US: Kroger to form consumer brand incubator
Pushing ahead with its alternative business strategy, The Kroger Co. has teamed with private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg to form an incubator for next-generation consumer product brands. Called PearlRock Partners, the platform will identify, invest in and help grow emerging consumer product companies and be one of the largest data-driven investment vehicles focused on consumer brands, the companies said. “We are excited to add PearlRock Partners to our portfolio of high-growth alternative profit businesses that generate additional value from our core grocery business. We are confident this partnership with Lindsay Goldberg will help discover and cultivate new brands that Kroger customers will love”, Stuart Aitken, senior vice president of alternative business at Kroger, said in a statement.
US: UFCW Local 1776KS members approve Acme Markets contract
Acme Markets employees represented by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State overwhelmingly approved a new 4-year contract that improves wages and protects benefits for thousands of Acme members who serve Philadelphia-area customers. The new contract covers 3,300 union members working in over 40 Acme Markets locations. Negotiations began in late 2017 and continued over the following year, wrapping up in early May of this year. Highlights from the approved contract include: Increased starting rate; Lump sum/hourly wage increases; Increased premiums for many positions; Expanded anti-discrimination language that covers gender identity and expression; Protection of benefits; Continued provisions for retirement.
US: Instacart and Whole Foods officially part ways, and the CEO says he’s ready
Delivery start-up Instacart and Whole Foods officially part ways. While the split has been anticipated since Amazon swooped in and acquired Whole Foods in 2017, it represents a new chapter for the grocery delivery startup. Instacart co-founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta says the company is ready for it. “Whole Foods was one of our first partners”, he told CNBC in an exclusive interview. “But over the last few years, pretty much every major grocer in North America has chosen Instacart as their partner.” Whole Foods was also once Instacart’s largest partner, but a person close to the company tells CNBC that today it accounts for less than 5% of total revenue.
US: Lidl to offer Boxed Express on-demand delivery
Lidl US has joined forces with online-only wholesale retailer Boxed to bring online ordering and Boxed Express on-demand delivery to select Lidl locations. In its first national partnership, Boxed will offer the deep discounter access to a homegrown suite of technology and services encompassing the whole shopping experience, from checkout to fulfillment, beginning with grocery delivery. The six-month pilot will launch at two locations: Staten Island, New York, and Powder Springs, Georgia. Starting next month, Boxed will offer Express delivery exclusively from Lidl stores in the pilot territories. Consumers can now browse the entire Lidl assortment and inventory of snacks, fresh produce, beverages and home essentials on Boxed.com. Upon checkout, shoppers can schedule a two-hour delivery window to receive their groceries at home.
US: Trader Joe's debuts YouTube channel
Trader Joe’s has launched a new YouTube channel that provides shoppers and fans with a sneak peek at what happens behind the scenes of the store, according to Store Brands. So far, the new channel has 19 videos across four categories including Recipes, How It’s Made, Products and Who We Are. Viewers can learn how the retailer makes peony candles or watch a quick recipe idea for chicken tikka masala burritos, for example. With nearly 5,400 subscribers as of today, the YouTube channel comes a year after the launch of the "Inside Trader Joe's" podcast, which provides listeners with narratives from crew members, C-suite executives and store captains.
Top 50 U.S. grocers: Aldi stays in top 10, but Lidl closes in; Meijer and Hy-Vee rise
The top six slots of Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list offer no surprises in terms of position - all of the companies that ranked first through sixth last year have reclaimed their places. But while these food retailers continue their battle for ultimate dominance over the U.S. grocery sector, those operators further down on the list are showing more movement as they strive to keep up with consumer trends. The first inkling of this in the ranking is the swapping of places of Amazon/Whole Foods Market (down two spots to No. 10) and Aldi U.S. (holding steady at No. 9) from last year, showing the solidifying influence of limited-assortment hard discounters, with their largely private-brand offering, in the United States. While Aldi’s aggressive push to open more U.S. stores has helped it maintain its top 10 ranking, arch-rival Lidl - a fellow European operator that has managed to recover its momentum after a rocky U.S. debut - now sits slightly below the Super 50, coming in at No. 56, while last year it failed to chart entirely. Notable rises were those of Meijer, up five slots to No. 7 from last year’s No. 12; Hy-Vee, up three spots to No. 12; Giant Eagle, up two spaces to No. 14; Demoulas Super Markets, operator of Market Basket stores, up seven spots to No. 18; Save Mart Supermarkets, up four rungs to No. 19; Ingles Markets, up six spots to No. 24; SpartanNash, up two rungs to No. 33; and Coborn’s, up six spaces to No. 44, along with Rouses, new to the Super 50 at No. 47, from 51st place last year.
Amazon launches new click and collect service
Amazon has launched a new service offering customers a network of stores where they can collect their online orders from designated pick up points. Looking to make the most of the increasing popularity of click and collect services, Amazon, through its new service called “Amazon Counter”, will allow its customers to choose a pick-up point when they get to the check-out stage on the Amazon website. Available in the UK and Italy, Amazon Counter offers quick and easy collection of online orders from a number of retail outlets and convenience stores. In the UK, Amazon has partnered with clothing chain Next. Launch partners in Italy include bookstore chain Giunti along with the network of Fermopoint and SisalPay stores. The retailer plans further roll out in the future, with more locations and partners across Europe. The service comes at no extra cost to Prime members and is available on millions of items sold on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.it, offering One-Day and Standard Shipping.
Poland: Biedronka will provide toilets for customers
According to Radio Zet, new discounted Biedronka will have public toilets. This is a response to complaints from the residents of Mława, who complained about the lack of toilets at one of the local portals. In response, representatives of Biedronka assured that the network “meets the expectations of customers” on public toilets. The toilets will appear in newly built outlets or those after general refurbishment. Biedronka is a Polish grocery chain that belongs to the internationally operating Portuguese group Jerónimo Martins. With 3,130 branches and over 70,500 employees in 2018, Biedronka is the largest supermarket chain and the second largest company in Poland.
Australia: Coles to target food-to-go market
Coles aims to ramp up its convenience strategy with improved food-to-go ranges and better targeted stores. Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Coles managing director Steven Cain has revealed that the retailer plans to introduce 75 new lines to its food-to-go range. It will also make changes to over 100 stores in the next six months, enabling them to stock more food-to-go and semi-prepared meals. Through the opening of new smaller formats and partnerships with the likes of UberEats, Coles clearly is putting more emphasis behind providing convenient solutions, with Cain, commenting: "We see the convenience market as being an opportunity to grow another billion in sales over the next five years."
Retailer Auchan's exit from Vietnam gets interest from potential buyers
French supermarket group Auchan Retail’s plans to sell its loss-making business in Vietnam is already drawing interest from potential buyers, a company spokesman told Reuters. Auchan Retail CEO Edgar Bonte told newspaper Les Echos that the group had decided to sell its 18 stores in Vietnam. Those Vietnam outlets currently generate revenue of 45mln euros ($50.4mln).
Aeon opens first hypermarket in Myanmar
Japanese retailer and mall operator Aeon has launched its first hypermarket in Myanmar. The 2800sqm store is triple the size of its 14 existing supermarkets in Southeast Asia and its first hypermarket in the region. Opened in the capital city of Yangon, it sells household items as well as food. It also features a microfinancing service for shoppers. The move is a response to the growing retail sector in Myanmar, which Aeon has been pursuing since its 2016 joint venture with local partner Creation Myanmar Group.