Aldi: Flixtrain and Flixbus

Franprix tests robot delivery

German retailer to invest EUR 480mln in Romania by 2025
German discount supermarket chain Penny Market has invested RON 346mln (EUR 77mln) in Romania last year and will double the average annual investments over the next seven years, according to Penny Market Romania general manager Daniel Gross, Ziarul Financiar reported. In 2018, the company opened 15 new stores and refurbished its existing units in line with a new store format. Furthermore, it acquired new land plots for future expansion and for developing logistics areas. "We have budgeted total investments of RON 2.3bln (EUR 480mln) in Romania for the 2019-2025 period. We want to reach 400 stores and four warehouses. We will also continue to invest in existing units”, Daniel Gross said.

France: Carrefour signs its first agricultural transition project
With its platform JeParticipe, built by the leader of crowdfunding in agriculture MiiMOSA, Carrefour has just signed its first project of co-investment in the agricultural transition with consumers. In February, Carrefour launched in partnership with MiiMOSA its collaborative participation platform: JeParticipe, which allows consumers and agri-food stakeholders to finance agricultural transition projects. The distributor has just announced its support for a project, Tomates Gourmandes, for which 50,000 euros were invested, out of a total collection of 100,000 euros. This funding comes in addition to a subsidy from the ADEME (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management).

Germany: Bringmeister and Bring! Labs announce collaboration
German online retailer Bringmeister and shopping-list app Bring!Labs AG have announced a collaboration, to enable customers to create shopping lists and place an order in just one step. Firstly, customers can plan their shopping online with the Bring! app, which can also offer product suggestions. After they have decided to buy the products, their shopping list is converted to the shop of the online trader. Bringmeister, a subsidiary of EDEKA, is one of the leading companies in the German e-commerce sector, and is continuously advancing its service, for example with same-day delivery.

France: Supermarket tests robot delivery
French supermarket group Franprix plans to use robots inspired by the drum-shaped droid R2-D2 from “Star Wars” to transport food to customers in Paris. Stepping up the race for automated deliveries with online retailers such as Amazon, Casino’s Franprix chain will test the delivery robots on the streets of Paris’s 13th arrondissement for a year. In the French capital, where Amazon has been running its Amazon Prime Now express delivery service since 2016, the speedy and convenient delivery of food has become a battleground among retailers. “This droid will facilitate the life of city dwellers. The last mile delivery is crucial. This is what builds the relationship with customers”, Franprix Managing Director Jean-Pierre Mochet said of the service, which will be free. Franprix and its partner, French start-up TwinswHeel which developed the as yet unnamed robot, are running the test after the city’s authorities approved the southeastern arrondissement for the experiment.

Japan's FamilyMart UNY: revenue falls but income rises 23.7%
FamilyMart UNY posted a 3.1% fall in gross operating revenue to JPY617.7bln (US$5.5bln), but core operating income increased 23.7% to JPY51.5bln (US$460.2mln), mainly attributed to the sale of UNY hypermarket business. More profitable operations and post-merger activities in Japan have been key focus areas rather than opening new stores. Newly converted FamilyMart stores recorded higher daily sales, as well as stronger customer footfall than pre-conversion. FamilyMart UNY ended the fiscal year with 16,430 stores in Japan, 802 fewer stores than last year. The retailer's overseas network grew steadily, with 189 new stores to reach 3,357 in Taiwan and 372 new stores in China to reach 2,569. Hypermarket operations in Japan are classified as a discontinued business, after Pan Pacific International Holdings Corporation (PPHI) (Don Quijote) completed full acquisition of UNY on 4th January. The retailer has also released a statement outlining the merger of FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co., Ltd. and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. This will change the retailer's trade name to FamilyMart Co., Ltd effective from September 1, 2019.

Germany: Aldi sends customers with the Flixbus through Europe
Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd will send their customers on a journey with Flixtrain and Flixbus, for 9.99 euros, throughout Europe. This is promised by the cooperation partners Aldi and Flixbus. Between the 29th of April and the 4th of May customers of the discount sister-companies, Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord can buy the cheap tickets in all branches. Together with their receipt, they receive an activation code, which they can redeem online at, in the app or at participating travel agencies. According to the Munich-based company, the Flixbus route network comprises more than 2,000 destinations in 29 European countries. In addition, there is the much smaller Flixtrain network – the Germany-wide journeys with these trains are also covered by the bargain offer.

Sydney startup Tiliter announces partnership, introducing AI technology to thousands of supermarkets across Australia
Award winning Australian AI technology start-up Tiliter have recently announced their partnership with GaP Solutions which will see their fresh produce recognition software rolled out into thousands of stores nationwide starting in 2019. GaP Solutions as market leaders in Point of Sale software and hardware solutions support supermarkets such as Harris Farm, IGA, FoodWorks, and SPAR. Customers and cashiers alike will find themselves interacting with extremely accurate and speedy tech, propelling the mundane of grocery shopping into the first step of an automated retail experience. Tiliter teaches checkouts to recognise products without barcodes. Using artificial intelligence their patented system can detect any fruit or vegetable placed in front of the device, helping to automate the checkout process, save customer time, reduce checkout lines and most importantly, to help win the war against plastic waste.

Germany's Edeka: FY2018 sales reach €53.6bln
Germany-based cooperative Edeka said group sales increased 3.2% to €53.6bln. The performance was driven by the organisation’s independent retailers, which saw sales improve by 4.9%. Edeka said that while the German market had supported its growth, it had been ‘able to expand [its] market share’. Although it highlighted the strength of its independent retailers, Edeka said its Netto banner had performed well too. Sales were aided by the opening of 263 new stores, across all formats, and a growth in total selling space to 11.3m sq. m from the new stores and the relocation and expansion of others. Edeka highlighted the integration of the 338 Tenglemann stores it acquired in 2017, which had enjoyed ‘double-digit growth rates’ in 2018. Improvements at its stores was aided by investment of about €1.6bln, a figure that is set to increase in 2019 to about €2.0bln.

US: Central Market, Shipt top Consumer Reports rankings
Shoppers named H-E-B’s Central Market in Texas as the best supermarket and Shipt as the best online grocery service in a survey by Consumer Reports. Regional chains led the ranking for brick-and-mortar grocery stores, Consumer Reports said. Out of a top rating of 100, Central Market came in first with a score of 91, followed by Wegmans Food Markets at 90; Heinen’s at 89; and Gelson’s Markets, Market Basket and Trader Joe’s tied for fourth at 87. There was a five-way tie for fifth, with Crest Foods, Fareway Stores, New Seasons Market, Costco Wholesale and Publix Super Markets all scoring an 86. This year marked the first time that Consumer Reports rated online grocery services, though customer satisfaction ratings - again based on 100 as the top score - weren’t as high as for physical stores. Shipt, a Target Corp. subsidiary, was No. 1 with a score of 79, followed by Amazon Prime Now at 75, Ahold Delhaize USA’s Peapod at 72, FreshDirect and Instacart at 70, and AmazonFresh at 66.

US: Aldi and Kohl's set to benefit from combo stores, report says
A partnership between Aldi and Kohl's could drive increased traffic to both stores, according to a recent survey. The first location in the tie-up, under which Aldi builds separate stores next to right-sized Kohl's locations, opened earlier this year in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The retailers have said they could open as many as ten of these combo stores. Sixty-eight percent of consumers polled by market research firm Field Agent said they would very likely shop both sides of Aldi and Kohl's combo store partnership in the same trip. About 90% of the 3,000 consumers surveyed said they would be at least moderately likely to shop at both the grocery store and the department store, while 38% said they would be "completely" likely to do so. Nearly half of respondents (49%) would be more likely to shop at a Kohl’s store if they knew Aldi was next door, while a slightly higher percentage (52%) said the union would make them more likely to shop at Aldi.

US: Giant Food pharmacy to prescribe fruit and vegetables
At a Giant Food pharmacy in Washington, D.C., fruit and vegetables will soon join pills as prescription options. Landover, Maryland-based Giant said that it will participate in a pilot of Produce Rx, a program of local nonprofit DC Greens designed to boost access to healthy food. Under Produce Rx, people who receive benefits via the AmeriHealth Caritas DC managed Medicaid health plan can get a prescription for fruit and vegetables from a medical professional for a diet-related chronic illness and fill the script in Giant’s supermarket pharmacy at 1535 Alabama Ave. SE in Washington. Giant said customers can fill the Produce Rx prescriptions during their weekly shopping trips at the store, and each week a Giant pharmacist will give them a $20 coupon for buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the store's produce department.

US: Tops kicks off major renovation projects
Tops Markets LLC is investing $40mln in a number of its stores, including several major floor-to-ceiling interior renovations and updated exterior facades, landscaping and parking lots. The stores will remain open during renovations. The remodeled locations will offer brand-new interior décor that aims to create a warm, inviting atmosphere highlighting the fresh departments, with larger produce, bakery and deli/prepared food sections, as well as a wide selection of natural, organic and gluten-free offerings integrated throughout the main aisles. Additionally, the stores will feature new flooring, energy-efficient equipment, cart corrals and shopping carts.

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