Kroger: first quarter 2019 results

Walmart: self-driving delivery test from warehouse to warehouse

US: Gen X shifts to grocery shopping online
The number of Generation X shoppers buying groceries online has grown considerably from 29% in 2018 to 40% in 2019, according to FMI's new U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report. Millennials still report a higher frequency of online shopping, however. About 43% of all consumers report shopping online occasionally, and use of both online-only and brick-and-mortar retailers with online options are growing rapidly. About 13% of shoppers use same or next-day delivery, 17% report using home delivery and 17% use in-store pickup. About 21% of those surveyed are regular online shoppers who shop either monthly (11%) or "frequent" shoppers who buy online at least every two weeks (10%). Among frequent shoppers, 13% use an online-only retailer "almost every time" and most of them are male, millennial and have a higher income.

US: Walmart to test self-driving delivery from warehouse to warehouse
Walmart, which has experienced a boom in online sales, will begin using robot cars to transport goods in between warehouses, in the hopes that the company will be able to cut costs and increase efficiency. Walmart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman told CNBC the retailer is working with its partner Gatik, a self-driving vehicle startup, to test out a self-driving vehicle. It will travel along a two-mile route in Bentonville, Arkansas between two stores. “We are working with city and state officials to obtain the approval we need to operate and plan to start the pilot program this summer with the aim being to learn about the logistics of adding AVs into our ecosystem, operation and process changes, and more opportunities to incorporate this emerging technology”, Blakeman said.

US: Kroger reports first quarter 2019 results
The Kroger Co. reported its first quarter 2019 results and provided a Restock Kroger progress update on the company's three-year transformation plan. Total company sales were $37.3bln in the first quarter, compared to $37.7bln for the same period last year. This decrease is due to the sale of Kroger's convenience store business unit. Total sales, excluding fuel and the effect of selling the convenience store business unit, increased 2.0% from the same period last year. Gross margin was 22.2% of sales for the first quarter. The Operating, General & Administrative costs, excluding fuel and the 2019 and 2018 Adjustment Items, decreased 12 basis points as a rate of sales, due to execution of Restock Kroger initiatives and planned real estate transactions during the quarter. Operating profit was $901mln in the first quarter. Adjusted FIFO operating profit totaled $957mln in the first quarter.

Brazil: retailer GPA launches e-commerce for wholesale deliveries
Brazilian food retailer GPA is launching a new business-to-business e-commerce platform, an executive told Reuters, aiming to double its customer base in the segment by the end of 2019. The digital platform for wholesale deliveries to bars, restaurants and other small and mid-sized businesses, is part of GPA’s push into the wholesale market, where competition is stiff as Brazil recovers tepidly from a deep recession.

France: Auchan appoints new chief executive
Auchan France has appointed Jean-Denis Deweine as its new chief executive. He takes over from Ali Khosrovi, who has left the company. Announcing the appointment, Auchan Retail’s chairman Edgard Bonte said the step had been taken to enable the acceleration of ‘the implementation of the Renaissance plan’ and to help it prepare for ‘medium-term developments to its business activities in France’. Auchan Retail said the appointment was necessary as it was facing ‘far-reaching and profound changes to the retail sector and to its competitive environment, as well as by difficult economic circumstances’ in France. The appointment of Deweine, who has 33 years’ experience at Auchan Retail in food and non-food products and procurement, both in France and internationally, is also aimed at helping to improve the performance of the retailer in the country.

Majid Al Futtaim looks to grow presence in Egypt
Retailer Majid Al Futtaim’s COO, Herve Majidier, has said it is aiming to open three Carrefour stores in the country’s New Administrative Capital. It is also investigating opportunities, as part of negotiations with the ministry of supply and internal trade, to add stores in new cities in the country. Majidier’s statements came as part of the inauguration of its first shopping centre in Ismailia, a city in the north east of the country. The site in Ismailia is part of Majid Al Futtaim’s previously announced plans to open 100 Carrefour stores, as part of a joint initiative with the country’s National Service Products Organization and the ministry of investment and international cooperation. Of the 100 it is aiming to open, Majid Al Futtaim said 15 are planned for 2019, which will bring its number to about 60 by the end of the year. The new stores are proposed for Cairo, Delta, the Red Sea, Qena, and Alexandria and will be part of the company’s total investment of EGP700mln (US$41.7mln) in the country in 2019.

UK: Waitrose & Partners selects IRI to provide suppliers with detailed customer insights
Waitrose & Partners has recently expanded its partnership with IRI as its insight partner. IRI, a leading customer loyalty specialist, has been selected because of its proven ability to manage complex sales information. IRI will help Waitrose & Partners improve its decision making by introducing the new Waitrose Customer Behaviour Portal. This allows suppliers access to a comprehensive view of their performance in Waitrose, and, as a result, both Waitrose and its suppliers will be able to use previously unavailable customer insights.

Amazon starts to sell fresh produce online in Japan
Amazon Japan is partnering with local supermarket operator Life Corp to sell fresh foods online. The project will commence in parts of Tokyo later this year and provide a range of produce to Amazon’s Prime Now subscribers in Japan, offering order times as prompt as two hours for delivery. It is the first time the internet giant’s Japanese unit has partnered with a supermarket chain. Amazon Japan will handle all deliveries and process payments under the new venture, which targets those who face challenges leaving home to go shopping, such as the elderly or busy working professionals. The firm is hoping to use the service to meet a broader demographic for its Prime Now subscriptions. The arrangement is an opportunity for Life to extend its current online reach, which currently covers just over half of the Tokyo metropolitan zone. Profitability remains a limiting factor for supermarkets investing in online order infrastructure in Japan.

UK: Convenience to grow quicker than grocery market despite discounter expansion
The convenience sector is likely to increase its share of the total UK grocery market in the next five years, but at a slower growth rate than that achieved by online sales or the discounters, according to the latest forecasts from IGD. Sales through the convenience channel are predicted to grow by 16.6% in the next five years, from £41.4bln to £48.2bln, giving it a market share of 22.2% by 2024, according to the research organisation. Online is expected to be the fastest-growing channel, up by 43.8% during the same period, ahead of discounters at 40.2%. This equates to an extra £9.8bln in annual sales going through the tills of the discount operators by 2024. Supermarkets are expected to grow modestly, with a 3.1% increase in total value over the next five years, but will remain the biggest channel with annual sales growing from £90bln this year to £92.8bln in 2024. Sales through large format hypermarkets are expected to fall by 0.8% over the period.

UK: Morrisons' driver plans angers union as talks of possible Stockton strike
A "Sense of betrayal" at plans by a supermarket giant to outsource nearly 400 drivers and mechanics has triggered a consultative ballot on whether to take strike action to fight this move, a union has claimed. Unite has sent ballot papers to its members at three Morrison sites in Stockton, Wakefield in West Yorkshire and Gadbrook in Cheshire asking them whether they wish to proceed to a full scale industrial ballot. The core of the dispute is Morrisons’ plan to transfer the transport operation at the three distribution sites to Wincanton and the vehicle maintenance teams at the same sites to Pullmans, a Wincanton subsidiary, from August this year.

Australia: Tailored and more culturally diverse food offerings at Coles
Coles general manager of Grocery, Anna Croft told industry leaders at the Food and Grocery Conference in Sydney that the supermarket giant is transforming its food offer with a much more tailored range powered by innovation and convenience. The retailer is focusing on several key trends which are influencing everything from store formats, to food ranges and technology. “Customers are changing faster than we’ve ever seen”, Croft said, highlighting the importance of the retailer adapting to the changing society. “At the moment 20% of all Australians are over 65… in just five years is that will move to 25% of all Australians - a huge number. We have to think around our store format, our packaging, our shelf layout, and how we really think about products that suit the needs in terms of nutritional content. So a really big change in our consumer society.” Croft highlighted the importance of having a diverse culture at Coles and said the supermarket is working with international brands to discuss import opportunities.

Bulgaria: Billa opens its biggest store in Mall of Sofia
Billa Bulgaria, the local arm of supermarket chain Billa owned by Germany's REWE Group, said that it has opened a new store in the Mall of Sofia shopping centre. The new store spreads on 1,911 sq. m., making it the biggest store of the supermarket chain in Bulgaria, the company said in a press release. The new store is Billa Bulgaria's 127th in the country and its 51st in the capital. Earlier this year, the company said that it will invest over 34mln levs ($19.5mln/ 17.4mln euro) in expansion and renovation in 2019.

UK: Tesco says no timetable for 'finest' store launch
Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, said it is considering a trial of an upmarket convenience store under the ‘Tesco finest’ banner but has not disclosed when or where a pilot will be launched. Tesco hosted a capital markets day for analysts and investors at which it presented a slide flagging an opportunity for a ‘Tesco finest’ store concept with a 7% operating margin - significantly ahead of the group-wide target of 3.5% to 4%. The premium ‘finest’ range of grocery products is Tesco’s most expensive. “‘Tesco finest’ as a brand is one of the largest food brands in the country. We have a very high percentage of more upmarket customers”, Chief Executive Dave Lewis told reporters.

Saudi Arabia: Retailer said to plan IPO of supermarket business
Retailer BinDawood Group is planning an initial public offering of its supermarket business as early as next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The group has started preliminary work to list the holding company that manages its supermarkets and hypermarkets, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private. BinDawood may list the shares on the Saudi stock exchange and an IPO would allow Bahrain’s Investcorp Bank to exit its minority stake in the firm, one of the people said. The company hasn’t hired financial advisers and may decide not to proceed with a deal, the people said.

Portugal: Aqui é Fresco to expand operations in 2019
Portuguese grocery retail franchise Aqui é Fresco has announced plans to open around 10-20 new stores in 2019. The Aqui é Fresco network comprises a group of 806 independent outlets, supermarkets, and mini-markets, spread across Portugal. It is one of the largest independent retail network in Portugal, supported by Unimark, an association of wholesalers of FMCG products.

E-commerce platform Shopline enters Malaysia
Hong Kong-based e-commerce hub Shopline has established a Kuala Lumpur office as a first move into the Malaysian market. Malaysia is Shopline’s second Southeast Asian market following Vietnam, where it already has a Ho Chi Minh City base and where 98% of internet users reportedly made online purchases in the past year. Malaysia’s internet penetration stands at 78.3%, heading off Indonesia and the Philippines, and will hit an e-commerce market value of $3.91bln next year. The firm, which has more than 150,000 registered users with online stores trading on its platform, shipped merchandise to more than 200mln customers last year. It has successfully raised US$2mln in funding from CDIB Capital Group and Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund.

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