Major Australian supermarket network accepting payments in bitcoin

SPAR International: Entry into Kosovo retail market

Morrisons named UK’s most environmentally responsible retailer
Morrisons has been voted as the top British company to work for to save the environment. The Big 4 grocer has been acclaimed as an environmentally responsible company as it continues to work on plastic reduction, and has beaten David Attenborough’s Sky’s Ocean Rescue Campaign at the Responsible Business Awards. Morrisons won the award after judges voted the supermarket as the top of a group of 23 companies for its initiative in reducing 9000 tonnes of plastic a year by either eliminating them or recycling.

Czech Republic: Lidl is building a warehouse outside Prague that will create 500 jobs
Supermarket chain Lidl is building a logistics center near Kladno, in the town of Buštěhrad, some 20 kilometers northwest of Prague. The warehouse, on the site of a former steel plant, should open in 2021. It will be one of Europe’s largest, employing up to 500 people. The Germany-based brand also plans to open 15 new stores in the Czech Republic this year. The total investment in the warehouse and stores will exceed CZK3bln (0,11bln Euro) according to Lidl ČR director Pavel Stratil. “Our fifth logistics center will have the capacity to supply up to 90 outlets”, he said.

SPAR enters Kosovo retail market
SPAR International has announced the brand’s entry into its 27th European retail market, Kosovo. The company will open three new stores by the end of 2019 and 35 within five years. SPAR Kosovo has been set up by a group of experienced partners in FMCG wholesale, retail, food safety and international franchising. Together with SPAR International, the group will “deliver a new global standard of FMCG retail experience to Kosovo consumers, promising premium products and value for money.” The transfer of knowledge from SPAR partners will help improve SPAR Kosovo’s offering and customer service. The expansion will see the introduction of SPAR Own Brand products, international brands as well as fresh local Kosovo produce. This will provide local suppliers with more opportunities to expand their market share.

Japan: Seven-Eleven opens 1st stores in Okinawa
Seven-Eleven Japan Co. opened its first Okinawa Prefecture outlets Thursday, now operating convenience stores in all of the country’s 47 prefectures. The Seven & i Holdings Co. unit plans to set up a total of about 250 shops on the main island of the prefecture. Okinawa had been the only prefecture still without a Seven-Eleven Japan store since the convenience store giant opened its first outlets in Tottori Prefecture in October 2015. On Thursday, a total of 14 Seven-Eleven Japan stores were launched in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, and other municipalities in the prefecture.

Casino president sees no need for ‘major’ sales in France
After a period of disposals in France and changes in Latin America, Casino’s president, Jean-Charles Naouri, has been quoted as saying there are unlikely to be any ‘major disposals in the retailer’s home market. The statement comes after speculation suggested Casino could be looking to sell Monoprix or Cdiscount. Naouri did confirm the sale of further stores in the country, but that these would be limited in nature.

Major Australian supermarket chain now accepts bitcoin
IGA, a major Australian supermarket network started accepting payments in bitcoin. GA is a network of independent retailers comprising over 1400 stores spread all over Australia. Now, these stores are accepting payments in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. According to Nugget’s News reports, TravelbyBit co-founder Caleb Yeoh collaborated with IGA Supermarkets Australia to equip each of its supermarket checkouts with a TravelbyBit’s point-of-sale (PoS) device that supports payments in Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Binance Coin (BNB). Yeoh told Nugget’s News: “Regardless of whether I’m buying eggs, milk, fruit, or vegetables, I now have a way to pay for my groceries with cryptocurrency. The same goes for any other cryptocurrency owners shopping at Bowen Hills IGA.”

Holland: Retailers denounce "unfair advantage" of AliExpress
Two Dutch retail organisations have issued a joint report that says non-European webstores such as AliExpress are not in compliance with local regulations. Detailhandel Nederland and therefore think such shops have a competitive advantage that is deemed unfair. The interest organisations for store proprietors have presented a report entitled 'An even playing field for Dutch proprietors'. According to the organisations, there is unfair competition, mostly from Chinese webshops. The organisations are particularly worried about the safety and quality of the goods sold on non-European webshops. Quality labels are often missing, toys tend to contain outlawed substances and electric appliances do not always adhere to the European safety regulations. "There are countless examples of foreign traders who do not respect the European regulations on safety and product quality or the protection of Dutch consumers", Margriet Keijzer of Detailhandel Nederland says.

UK: Waitrose & Partners extends ‘While You’re Away’ trial
Waitrose & Partners is extending the trial of its ‘While You’re Away’ service following a successful launch, expanding from 300 postcodes to 818, which are delivered by Coulsdon fulfilment centre. Following positive feedback and regular use of the service from the initial 50 customers who have taken part in the trial, the supermarket will increase the number of customers participating in phase two of the trial by 200%. The purpose of extending the trial to a wider customer base is to gather more information and data before potentially rolling it out more broadly in the future.

Holland: Jumbo invests in delivery
Netherlands-based Jumbo is investing in smarter and more sustainable delivery methods to meet the growing demand for online grocery shopping. It has signed new cooperation agreements with Ondernemersvereniging Jumbo (OVJ), effective for the next three years. For several months, Jumbo has been delivering from centralised hubs and expanding its e-fulfilment centres. The retailer operates hubs in Amsterdam, Den Bosch and Zeeland and plans to open one in Utrecht by the end of 2019. Further expansion is expected to follow, but details have yet to be announced. For Jumbo, centralised distribution is more efficient and sustainable than home delivery. It “offers better opportunities to scale up effectively where needed and to serve customers in densely populated urban areas”.

Workers at Chilean Walmart retailers strike over wages
As many as 17,000 workers at Walmart´s largest union in Chile walked off the job early Wednesday morning, demanding better salaries after negotiations over a new labor contract broke down earlier this week, the union’s president said. The strike was expected to shut down more than one-quarter of the approximately 400 stores that Walmart Inc operates in Chile, some of them under the popular grocery store franchise Lider. “We haven´t reached an agreement. We did make some advances, but they weren´t enough to seal a deal of the magnitude the company has in mind”, Juan Moreno, president of Lider´s Inter-Company Union (SIL), said in a statement.

Canada: Couche-Tard misses Q4 expectations as profits dip 25%
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. missed expectations as its net income attributable to shareholders decreased 25% to US$293.1mln in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year on a dip in revenues. The Laval, Quebec-based convenience store chain, which reports in U.S. dollars, says it earned 52 cents per share for the period ended April 28, down from 69 cents per share or $391mln a year earlier. The company received a net tax benefit of $69.7mln in the fourth-quarter of fiscal 2018 from U.S. tax cuts.

US: Natural Grocers recognized for percentage of women on board of directors
Natural and organic retailer Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. has been named a Winning ‘W’ Company by 2020 Women on Boards (2020WOB) for having a board of directors comprising at least 20% women before the year 2020. Currently, women account for 29%of the company’s board members and 53% of its upper-level management positions, including executive, VP and director roles. “Natural Grocers has always challenged the status quo”, noted Kemper Isely, co-president of the Lakewood, Colorado-based retailer. "We operate on the founding principles established by Margaret and Philip Isely, and in the history of the company, we have never compromised our standards. We are proud of the progress we’ve made so far, and we are encouraged to see more companies join us in promoting gender diversity at the board and management levels.”

US: Udelv partners with H-E-B on Texas autonomous grocery delivery pilot
Autonomous delivery company Udelv has signed yet another partner to launch a new pilot of its self-driving goods delivery service: Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B. The pilot will provide service to customers in Olmos Park, just outside of downtown San Antonio where the grocery retailer is based. California-based Udelv will provide H-E-B with one of its Newton second-generation autonomous delivery vehicles, which are already in service in trials in the Bay Area, Arizona and Houston, providing deliveries on behalf of some of Udelv’s other clients, which include Walmart, among others.

Amazon expands efforts to tackle counterfeits
Online retail giant Amazon is expanding its product serialization service to Canada, India and some European countries to tackle counterfeit products in the supply chain. Amazon Transparency involves the application of unique codes to products to allow the retailer, its customers, brands and other members of the supply chain to authentic every unit of a product. “Counterfeiting is an industry-wide concern - both online and offline. We find the most effective solutions to prevent counterfeit are based on partnerships that combine Amazon’s technology innovation with the sophisticated knowledge and capabilities of brands”, said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president, Amazon Customer Trust and Partner Support.

23% of US smartphone users will use a food delivery app by 2023
Around 44mln U.S. smartphone users will use third-party food delivery apps by 2020, an increase of 6mln compared to 2019, according to eMarketer research that was emailed to Restaurant Dive. By 2021, nearly 50mln U.S. consumers will use a food delivery app and by 2023 it will grow to 60mln people, making up 23% of smartphone users. As of February 2019, DoorDash (27.6%), Grubhub (26.7%) and Uber Eats (25.2%) claimed the most food delivery market share.

US: Kroger and Ocado name Georgia location of high-tech customer fulfillment center
The Kroger Co., America's largest grocery retailer, and Ocado, one of the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailers, announced plans for a new high-tech customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Forest Park, Georgia, a $55mln investment that will create more than 400 new jobs. "Kroger is incredibly excited to construct one of our industry-leading Customer Fulfillment Centers in Forest Park - a city south of Atlanta - through our relationship with Ocado", said Robert Clark, Kroger's senior vice president of supply chain, manufacturing and sourcing. "Through our strategic partnership, we are leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions to redefine the customer experience across America."

US: Costco Wholesale Corporation reports June sales results
Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco” or the “Company”) reported net sales of $14.57bln for the retail month of June, the five weeks ended July 7, 2019, an increase of 7.5% from $13.55bln last year. For the forty-four weeks ended July 7, 2019, the Company reported net sales of $126.13bln, an increase of 8.0% from $116.81bln during the similar period last year.

US: Publix and Wegmans top Fortune's best workplaces for Millennials
Wegmans and Publix once again made it into the top 50 on a Fortune Best list, representing the upper echelon of the retail industry. This time around, the two ranked 16th (Wegmans) and 34th (Publix) on Fortune and Great Place to Work®’s 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials. “I’ve always been able to try and learn new things in my time working here”, a Wegmans employee said. “I’ve had opportunities in many different departments and get to work in areas that interest me. I feel like my voice is heard and my ideas are always put into consideration.” A Publix employee added: “Publix is very accommodating to their associates. Whether it’s a school schedule, family vacations, hardship, etc. Publix and its management team will always do whatever they can to help if it is needed. Publix truly does care for their associates.”

Walmart told U.S. government, India e-commerce rules regressive and warns of trade impact
Walmart told the U.S. government privately in January that India’s new investment rules for e-commerce were regressive and had the potential to hurt trade ties, a company document seen by Reuters showed. The lobbying effort yielded no result at the time - India implemented the new rules from February 1 - but the document underlines the level of concern at Walmart about the rules. Differences over e-commerce regulations have become one of the biggest issues in frayed trade ties between New Delhi and Washington. In a statement to Reuters, Walmart said it regularly offers input to the U.S. and Indian governments on policy issues and this was a “past issue and Walmart and Flipkart are looking ahead”.

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