Amazon in deal with German watchdog to overhaul marketplace terms
Amazon has reached a deal with Germany’s anti-trust authority to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants, taking action to appease regulators as pressure on the e-commerce giant grows in Europe and the United States. The Federal Cartel Office said it was dropping a seven-month investigation after Amazon agreed to amend its Business Services Agreement that applies to merchants using its platform. Neighboring Austria ended a similar probe into Amazon, yet a full-blown European Union antitrust probe still looms. Lawmakers in the United States meanwhile grilled an Amazon boss over how the company treats merchants. The changes will apply not only to Germany, Amazon’s No. 2 market after the United States, but also to its marketplaces in Britain, France, Italy and Spain, as well as its other worldwide sites in America and Asia, the German regulator said.
China: Hong Kong protests may drive retail sales slump, says HKRMA
The ongoing Hong Kong protests are eroding the sales of the territory’s retailers according to the HKRMA. “Depending on the performance of different retail categories, most member companies said the turnover in the first week of June recorded an average [decline] of double digits”, said the Hong Kong Retail Management Association in a statement. “Activities are spreading across districts, and members expect business to be greatly affected”, said the HKRMA, noting that July and August mark the traditional summer-holiday sales season, but recent large-scale demonstrations, including one in a Sha Tin shopping mall last Sunday, may deter mainlanders from visiting the city. “Large-scale parade activities have caused individual stores to suspend business. Not only are the retail companies under pressure, so is the income of store employees.”
Holland: Jumbo successful in last hurdle before Belgian expansion
Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo has achieved a 16.5% turnover growth this semester, increasing its market share to 21.6%. Expansion towards Belgium is next on the agenda. In the first six months of the year, the Jumbo Group recorded a consumer turnover of 4.63bln euros, an increase of 16.5% compared to the same period last year. 4.46bln euros comes from the eponymous chain, 83mln from restaurant chain La Place (+ 5 %) and the Emté stores that have not yet been transformed, generated a turnover of 85mln euros.
Egypt: Investec Asset Management buys supermarket retailer Spinneys
Investec Asset Management, via its pan-African private equity fund, has bought a controlling stake in supermarket chain Spinneys Egypt. “The business is one of the leading grocery retail players in Egypt, having expanded to a current footprint of 13 outlets, comprising two hypermarkets and 11 supermarkets, and including two new openings in the last eight months”, Investec Asset Management said without disclosing the deal’s value. This is the asset manager’s first private-equity investment in Egypt and the eighth investment by its second pan-African private equity fund. Spinneys Egypt CEO Mohanad Adly said Investec Asset Management’s “international experience and financial support” would help the chain accelerate its growth, including by adding new stores.
Thai bank invests in Go-Jek to take on Grab
Siam Commercial Bank has made a “significant investment” in Indonesian ride-hailing app Go-Jek. Go-Jek, which has an estimated valuation of around US$10bln, will be offering financial services in partnership with the bank as well as expand its food delivery services in Thailand following the funding. It is expected to add SCB’s products in payments, digital lending and insurance to the available offerings on its app within the coming months. “Our products will be connected, SCB will oversee finance while Go-Jek and Get will look at digital and logistics”, said SCB president Arak Sutivong. Go-Jek has operated in Thailand under the brand name Get since earlier this year, where it is in competition with Singaporean ride-hailing app Grab.
Poundland drives sales & profits for European owner
Pepkor Europe has reported a double-digit surge in half-year sales and profits, boosted by the performance of its flagship discount chain Poundland. According to its interim report for the half-year period ending March 31, Pepkor reported a 13.3% year-on-year uptick in overall revenues to €1.72bln (£1.53bln). Meanwhile, Pepkor’s EBITDA surged by 29.1% to €151mln (£134mln). The retail firm, which operates Poundland in the UK and Dealz and Pepco in mainland Europe, now trades from 2473 stores across the continent - an 11.9% year-on-year increase. On its own, Poundland reported revenue growth of 1.6% year-on-year to €920mln (£829mln) during the half year period, while its store estate grew a marginal 0.5% to 875.
France: Barclays sees Carrefour-Casino merger as possible, pushing up Casino shares
Shares in French retailer Casino rose around 2% after Barclays said in a note that a tie-up with larger rival Carrefour could be a possibility “given the difficulties encountered by Casino’s majority shareholder.” “Such a combination looks potentially interesting as the new entity would become a leader in France and Brazil and would be able to benefit from significant synergies”, wrote Barclays. Barclays said it was difficult to ascribe a particular percentage likelihood to this merger happening, but it estimated potential savings at 0.9% of sales of the combined group, or total gross synergies of around 1bln euros ($1.12bln).
US: Walmart CEO says stores are the distribution centers it needs against Amazon
Walmart Inc Chief Executive Doug McMillon said that the discount chain's thousands of stores give it the distribution firepower it needs to compete again its e-commerce rivals, notably Amazon.com. While Walmart has 20 fulfillment centers assignment specifically to support its e-commerce business, compared to 100 for Amazon, the retailer's 4,500 stores give it an edge in speeding up delivery, food and otherwise, McMillon said at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado. That is particularly crucial for Walmart's $170bln food business, which makes it the largest U.S. grocer by far. Not only are stores closer to customers, but using store inventory offers Walmart another chance to sell items and have less go to waste. "One of the realities of fresh and perishable food is if you don't sell it, you throw it away or give it away", McMillon said. "When you have a store environment and you have fresh or perishable food so close to people, those stores then become dual store and pick centers." Pick centers refers to facilities where merchandise is used to fill online orders for delivery or pickup. The CEO said 60% of Walmart stores "function in that way and that's an advantage for us." Amazon operates few stores other than its Whole Foods chain.
US: Raley’s adds attributes to Shelf Guide
Raley’s Shelf Guide has expanded to include 23 total icons and two additional categories. Described by the West Sacramento, California-based grocer as a “one-of-a-kind label transparency tool”, the guide harnesses customer data and the knowledge of science and nutrition experts to help customers more easily navigate nutrition facts, processing claims and ingredient labels for thousands of products on shelves and online. “Consumers have the right to know exactly what they are eating, putting on their bodies or using in their homes”, noted Yvette Waters, Raley’s nutrition strategist and brand influencer. “We are looking into a more holistic wellness approach when navigating the aisles. Raley’s has enhanced standards of what customers should expect from their local grocer. We want to give customers easy access to better options for a healthier lifestyle and provide greater transparency in labeling of products on our shelves and online.”
US: Wegmans, Teamsters Local 118 reach tentative agreement
Following months of negotiations, Wegmans Food Markets and Teamsters Local 118 have hammered out a new five-year agreement covering nearly 1,000 warehousing and distribution workers. Subject to ratification by the local’s members, the agreement provides for the largest wage package of any agreement previously reached with Wegmans, and addresses such issues as seniority rights, vacations and the use of part-time workers, according to the union. “Lead negotiator Chris Toole and the entire Union Committee of Stewards did an outstanding job of standing united and firm on their proposals”, noted Paul Markwitz, president of Local 118, which is based in Rochester, New York, as is Wegmans. “The historic progress made under this agreement is a testament to the success Wegmans enjoys, due to the hard work of our members.”
US: Tampa Bay area's first GreenWise Market is heading to Water Street Tampa
A GreenWise Market grocery store will open at the base of two new apartment towers in Water Street Tampa, developers said. Publix, which owns the GreenWise Market brand, has signed a lease for 26,000 square feet of space on the ground-floor of 815 Water Street, a twin-tower residential project now under construction. The Water Street store will be the Tampa Bay area's first GreenWise Market, a new concept that is not the same thing as the stores carrying the older Publix Greenwise name.
Ahold Delhaize USA opening Infinity Fresh Kitchen, innovation center
Infinity Fresh Kitchen, a subsidiary of Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, is opening a fresh processing facility and culinary innovation center in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The facility will process fresh items for the company’s area Hannaford and Stop & Shop stores, including cut fruit and vegetables; leaf, grain and pasta salads; sandwiches; and wraps and other grab-and-go items. “As the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, the largest grocery retail group on the East Coast, Retail Business Services is charged with finding innovative solutions that enable the local grocery brands we support to focus on serving their customers”, said Roger Wheeler, president of Retail Business Services. “Infinity Fresh Kitchen is the latest example of this innovation, which will help our retail partners bring the latest fresh, convenient items to their customers.”
Costco private-label brand available at Amazon
Dozens of Kirkland Signature products are being sold on Amazon’s website, according to a new report from Quartz. Amazon has a storefront for Kirkland Signature, which is Costco’s private brand known for quality and value. Amazon shoppers can browse Kirkland Signature slippers, underwear, plastic wrap, coffee, quinoa and even hair-growth pills. Many of these products are available with Amazon’s Prime two-day delivery option. The Kirkland Signature products are being sold on Amazon at a premium compared to the prices on Costco’s website. A 2-liter bottle of Kirkland-brand olive oil costs US$22.99 on Amazon, but on Costco it’s priced at $16.99, according to Quartz. Similarly, Kirkland adult dog food retails for $43.99 on Costco’s site, but costs $56.29 on Amazon. Ironically, in both cases, Amazon prominently displays near the purchase button that it sells its own brands of products for much less; Solimo dog food and AmazonFresh olive oil. Costco and Amazon weren’t immediately available to comment on whether this is an official partnership between the two retailers.