Giant Food: new Giant Pickup service

Amazon employees in Minnesota are planning a strike

Canada: Empire CEO says innovation is the future
When it comes to innovation, Empire isn’t chasing headlines, according to its president and CEO Michael Medline, it’s chasing efficiencies, sales growth and customer satisfaction. With Project Sunrise–a multi-year, $500mln cost-cutting plan launched in 2017–coming to a close, Empire is in a position to focus more of its resources on innovation. And the company will do so, but in ways that are both strategic and prudent, said Medline. “Throwing money around willy-nilly and doing innovation for innovation’s sake is not the strategy we want to pursue”, he said, during the company’s quarterly conference call with analysts and media last week. The goal, said Medline, is to become the “most innovative retailer in Canada.”

US: Albertsons Companies announces enhancements concerning visual impairments
Albertsons Companies announced an initiative to make its online grocery shopping websites and mobile applications more accessible and usable for shoppers with disabilities. Albertsons Cos. strives to substantially conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 Level AA as its accessibility standard. It has made significant enhancements to its online shopping websites and mobile applications to improve accessibility. The announcement is the result of collaboration between Albertsons Cos. and several visually impaired customers of the company's family of grocery stores, including Safeway, in a process known as Structured Negotiation.

US: Giant Food announces convenient new Giant Pickup service
Giant Food, leading greater Washington D.C. regional grocery chain, announced the launch of Giant Pickup, which will allow customers to place their grocery orders online and pick them up at a local store without ever leaving their cars. Giant Pickup will begin rolling out on July 1st and will be available at 100 stores in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Delaware by the end of the year. With Giant Pickup, customers now have another option to suit their busy schedules, from shopping in-store to pickup and home delivery. Shoppers can choose a pickup window based on their schedules, opting for same-day pickup in as little as 4 hours or next-day service. With the same great items, value and quality available at their local Giant store, this service is a new way Giant is helping make its customers' lives easier. Customers can order at and Giant associates will hand-select, pack and load orders into customers' cars.

7-eleven parent wants US stores to sell more fresh and fast food "common in Japan"
7-Eleven gets some kudos from their Japanese parent company and not too subtle encouragement to increase their efforts to sell more fresh and fast food. Seven & I Holdings Co. Ltd. said in a recording reviewing the results that its Irving-based 7-Eleven US operations reported the highest operating profit in its history and showed a 3.4% comparable sales increase in the first quarter. And while fresh food and the company's 7-Select branded products drove the improved results, the Japanese parent sees more potential. "The development and improvement of fast food is important and something that we will do ahead", said Seven & I in its first quarterly report. "We also believe that the change in public perceptions about 7-Eleven in the US is important. To change the public perception when it comes to buying food products at 7-Eleven, it is as usual in Japan, that we strengthen store cleanliness and improve customer service." The parent company also said it plans to continue to store renovations in the US.

Amazon workers are planning a Prime Day protest
Amazon employees in Minnesota are planning a strike on Prime Day this year, as the company is promoting its faster delivery options but not giving its workers enough credit, they say. Workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, have plotted to stop working for six hours on July 15, when the 48-hour Prime Day extravaganza kicks off. Bloomberg first reported on this after speaking with one of the people organizing the strike. Some engineers are planning to fly into Minnesota to join the strike, the report said. Activists there are going to be pushing Amazon to take action against things like climate change and giving more temporary workers the option to become full time, it said.

Brazil gets its first 'healthy' supermarket
Super Saudavel, the first supermarket in Brazil to offer 'healthy' products selected by a team of nutritionists, has opened its doors to customers. The store is located in the Alto de Pinheiros district of São Paulo. Most of the food items in the outlet are organic and cultivated by small, certified producers. The assortment includes essential items that are gluten-free, lactose-free, light and vegan, as well as high-quality fruit and vegetables. 

Poland: Dino Polska opens 81 new stores in H1 2019
Polish retailer Dino Polska has announced that it has opened 81 new stores in the first six months of its financial year. In 2018, the retail group opened 74 new stores during the same period. At the end of June 2019, Dino Polska's retail network comprised 1,056 outlets. The retailer operated 849 stores in the same period last year. The selling space in the Dino stores has increased to 408,000 thousand square-metres, from 325,000 thousand square-metres a year ago.

EBRD and DEG finance Azerbaijan’s leading supermarket chain Araz
Consumers and food producers in Azerbaijan will benefit as the country’s largest supermarket chain, Araz, is expanding its distribution and warehouse capacity. The EBRD and Germany’s Development Finance Institution DEG are financing the plans with loans worth €5mln each. Araz runs a network of 122 stores, including those under its own brand name and the ones with SPAR banner. With the new funds, the company is planning to expand its distribution centre and more than triple its warehousing capacity, from 12,600 square meters to 42,600 square meters. The newly enlarged facilities will also enable storage of fresh and frozen goods and by bringing management of the supply chain under its own control will help the company to improve supply chain management and working capital control, as well as increase the overall efficiency and profitability of the business.

UK: Sainsbury’s-Asda merger blocked for 10 years
The competition watchdog has blocked Sainsbury’s and Asda from joining forces for 10 years, rubbing salt into the wounds of their failed merger bid. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Sainsbury’s has been barred from acquiring a stake in Asda or any of its subsidiaries for the next decade. It is also prohibited from buying an interest in any business that has a holding interest in Asda. The same rules will apply to Asda and its parent company Walmart, preventing them from acquiring a stake in Sainsbury’s or any company holding an interest in its big-four rival. The stipulations will apply until July 9, 2029, unless the parties receive the “prior written consent of the CMA”.

UK: Ocado's earnings dented by robotic warehouse fire
Britain’s Ocado, the online supermarket and technology company, reported a 46% fall in first-half core earnings, reflecting the impact of a fire at a flagship robotic warehouse as well as accounting changes and the cost of share schemes. Despite the earnings fall Ocado, whose shares have increased 48% so far this year, said it was confident about its outlook. “We have never had as many opportunities to grow as we do today”, said Chief Executive Tim Steiner. Ocado made adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £18.7mln in the 26 weeks to June 2 versus a restated £34.8mln in the same period last year. After a fire in February devastated Ocado’s robotic warehouse in Andover, southern England, the group warned of a reduction in sales growth until it increased capacity elsewhere.

Lidl plans 500 jobs at 12 new stores in Scotland
Lidl has announced plans to open 12 new stores across Scotland, creating about 500 jobs over the next three years. The discount supermarket chain said construction had already started on stores in Dumbarton, Dundee, East Kilbride, Cowdenbeath and Larkhall. It has yet to release details about the other seven planned sites. The company also plans to "enhance" a number of existing stores, either through extensions or relocations to bigger sites. The expansion move will add to the retailer's current estate of 98 stores in Scotland.

Spain: Mercadona leads, Bon Preu precedes Dia in the turnover
Mercadona remains the leading company in the distribution sector in Catalonia. This is evidenced by the latest report on the sector, which has been publicly presented by the Generalitat. The Valencian group chaired by Juan Roig is a leader in sales area and estimated billing. Thus, Mercadona occupies the first position in sales estimation, while in the second, Bon Preu passes in front of Grupo Dia. The study analyzes the top 50 companies in the distribution sector, which includes food, perfumery and drugstore. Mercadona’s market share in Catalonia exceeds 15% of the total. Bon Preu is close to 10%, and then there is a conglomerate of groups, with a percentage of between 5% and 10%: Dia, Carrefour, Eroski, bonÀrea and Consum. In terms of market share, Mercadona is also the leader (15.58%) followed by Dia (11.96%), Bon Preu (9.32%), Eroski (9.15%) and Condis (8.26%).

Tesco to open 750 stores as part of Thailand expansion
Tesco has revealed plans to expand in Thailand and open 750 convenience stores throughout the country over the next three years. The Big 4 leader’s largest market outside the UK is Thailand as the country generated £4.1bln of revenue in the year to February 23. Tesco currently employs over 46,000 full-time staff across 1965 stores operating under the Tesco Lotus fascia in Thailand. Tesco’s Asian division, which includes its Thai business, delivered a profit of £286mln in 2018/19.

UK: Consumer spending at weakest since mid-90s amid Brexit chaos - BRC
Fears that Britain’s economy has come to a standstill have been heightened by a report from retailers showing annual consumer spending at its weakest since their records began in the mid-1990s. The British Retail Consortium said clarity over Brexit was urgently required after falling sales in June came as a marked contrast to the bumper World Cup and weather-related activity of a year earlier. In its monthly health check of the sector conducted with the consultancy firm KPMG, the BRC said total sales fell by 1.3% last month while the annual rate of growth slowed to 0.6%. Both were the weakest since the survey was launched in 1996 and add to the evidence that consumers - up until now the mainstay of growth - have started to spend less freely despite an increase in disposable income caused by earnings growing faster than inflation.

Sainsbury’s launches new recycling scheme in Glasgow, helping customers save up to £25 on their shopping
Sainsbury’s has launched a Reverse Vending Recycling trial at its Braehead Superstore in Glasgow, allowing customers to return plastic bottles and drinks cans in exchange for money off their shopping. Braehead becomes the first Sainsbury’s store in Scotland, and only the third in the UK, to offer this service to customers. Customers can deposit plastic bottles of any size up to 3 litres and aluminium drinks cans in a machine at the store entrance, in exchange for a coupon that’s worth 5p per item towards their shopping. Up to 500 items can be deposited per visit, which means customers could save up to £25. Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand said: “We’re delighted to offer a new way to help our customers recycle while saving on their shop.”

Spain: El Corte Ingles wants to become Europe's next Amazon
Europe's largest department store chain was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis. Now, with Chinese giant Alibaba at its side, it wants to take on online retail powerhouse Amazon and grow its customer base. For shoppers from Latin America, the green logo of El Corte Ingles is the equivalent to England's Harrods: It's an institution. Though the department stores are only in Spain and Portugal, online sales are an important part of the business. The store's goods, including many of its own labels, are now being sent all over the world, to shoppers' homes or other department stores working in partnership. The company not only includes its famous delicatessen, beauty salons, restaurants and its own fashion brands, whose products are now also on the shelf at Germany's Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof stores, but also travel agencies, bookstores and financial service providers.

Switzerland: Coop replaces plastic tableware with palm-leaf alternative
Coop Switzerland has introduced palm-leaf tableware and paper straws in 900 outlets in the country in a bid to reduce the use of plastics. The new launch will offer customers the option to choose eco-friendly tableware and straws. The palm-leaf bowls and dishes are made of leaf sheaths from fallen leaves, and the production process meets all sustainability guidelines. The 'Oecoplan' range is waterproof, heat-resistant up to 220°C, neutral in taste, and can be composted after use. The retailer has also launched eco-friendly paper straws as an alternative to the plastic version. The paper straws are sustainably produced with renewable raw materials and are made of rigid paper for strength and durability.

Germany: Online grocer Getnow upgrades payments options
German online grocer and Metro partner, Getnow, has embedded additional flexibility to its payments platform thanks to a link-up with Wirecard. The collaboration means Getnow customers have a larger array of digital payment options, which are all processed by Wirecard. It said in a statement that once customers order groceries at its site, Getnow employees then purchase the goods from Metro, the largest wholesaler in Germany, before carrying out same-day deliveries.

Germany: DHL builds 500 Packstations at Lidl stores
Deutsche Post DHL Group and Lidl have partnered up to make shopping more convenient. As a result of the partnership, about 500 DHL Packstations will be built at Lidl stores in Germany later this year. DHL and Lidl not only say the “future-oriented cooperation” enables their customers to shop even more conveniently, they also say it shows that online and offline shopping don’t have to be a contradiction.

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