Chalo FreshCo heads Western Canada

Giant Eagle has partnered with Grabango to create a no-wait checkout service at its stores

US: Safeway & Vons come to tentative agreement with NorCal workers
Albertsons’ Safeway and Vons banners in Northern and Central California have reached a tentative agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 8-Golden State that the union described as “excellent.” “At the bargaining table, we were able to build on the key achievements of decades of union solidarity,” noted Jacques Loveall, president of Roseville, California-based UFCW 8-Golden State. “This contract is one of our best ever, a big ‘win’ for union members.”

Canada: South Asian concept Chalo FreshCo heads West
Four years after Sobeys Inc. launched Chalo FreshCo in Ontario, the South Asian-focused discount banner expanded into Western Canada. Two locations opened in Surrey British Columbia, in the neighbourhoods of Strawberry Hill and Newton, which have big South Asian populations. Chalo Freshco offers a variety of North American products, food and fresh produce, as well as a large South Asian product assortment, including dhal, rice and flour. Chalo FreshCo locations also feature an in-store pharmacy. “We’ve built our in-store [offering] to meet the needs of the local community”, said Chris Phillipson, owner and operator of the Newton Chalo FreshCo, in a press release. “Our expansive fresh produce assortment features discount pricing that does not compromise on quality. We’ve also partnered with two local businesses for our halal, meat and seafood offering: TaQwa Halal Foods and Fraserview Meats and Seafood.”

US: Giant Eagle and Grabango to offer no-wait checkout service
American supermarket chain Giant Eagle has partnered with technology provider Grabango to create a no-wait checkout service at its stores. The partnership adds to Giant Eagle’s goal to enhance the shopping experience for customers by investing in innovative technologies. Customers can shop for the required items using Grabango’s checkout-free technology, which will keep track of the items selected by each shopper and allows them to checkout easily. According the company, the solution uses computer vision and machine learning to track shopped items. In order to protect customer privacy, all data is anonymised.

Maxima names new CEOs for Estonia and Bulgaria
Lithuanian retailer Maxima Grupė has appointed Edvinas Volkas as the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Maxima Estonia, effective from 16 July. Most recently, Volkas served as the head of Maxima Bulgaria and will replace Marko Põder. Volkas joined Maxima Grupė in 2001 and has held several leadership positions in different companies of the group. Peter Pavlov, the chief administrative officer of Maxima Bulgaria, has been named the company's new chief executive officer. Pavlov began his career in Maxima Bulgaria in 2005.

Ireland: Dunnes Stores reportedly proposing a takeover of JC Savage Supermarket
It has been reported that Irish retailer Dunnes Stores is proposing a takeover of JC Savage Supermarket Ltd in Swords. According to the Irish Times, details of the deal have not been disclosed, but the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has been notified and has commenced a preliminary investigation. JC Savage Supermarket Ltd is listed as owning Swords Shopping Centre, where it operates its independent grocery store in Swords Village.

Jersey: Food unwrapped in Co-op eco drive
Jersey’s longest-running supermarket chain is launching a major new drive to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging on its products. Numerous local fruit and vegetable products in the Channel Islands Co-operative Society’s two Grand Marché stores in Jersey will be sold unwrapped. Mark Cox (50), the chief operating officer of the Channel Island’s Co-operative Society, said this latest initiative - which will also come into force in its Grand Marché shops in Guernsey - was happening in line with the wishes of its membership. ‘We are running a trial in our Grand Marché stores, selling local produce unwrapped wherever possible’, he said. ‘Our members have been telling us they want to see action in this area. We’ve got 26 different fruit and vegetable produce lines that we’re removing packaging from, predominantly local lines, in an effort to give consumers that choice of buying more unwrapped product with no plastic on.’ He said unpackaged local products would include more produce ‘like baking potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes and leeks’.

Spain: Eroski signs refinancing agreement with creditors until 2024
Spanish retailer Eroski has announced that it has signed a refinancing agreement with creditors, in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed at the beginning of March. The agreement, which will be effective from 31 July, has been signed by creditor entities that represent 95.57% of the group's financial debt. The rest of the creditors are expected to sign the deal in the coming days, the company said. President of Eroski, Agustín Markaide, welcomed the signing of the agreement and said that it would help the retailer address financial challenges defined in its business plan. It will also help in normalising the "level of indebtedness in relation to the generation of recurring funds", he said.

France, Spain, Italy and Argentina: Carrefour goes for fast home delivery with Glovo deal
Carrefour has teamed up with Spanish start-up Glovo to provide a fast home delivery service as the French supermarket group looks to deal with growing competition from the likes of Amazon as well as domestic rivals. Carrefour’s Glovo partnership will cover four countries - France, Spain, Italy and Argentina - and will start operating by early October at the latest. The service will aim to deliver 2,500 products to customers’ homes within 30 minutes. “With this new partnership, Glovo and Carrefour will offer a 30-minute home delivery service that complements their existing e-commerce offers and allows them to address the needs of new customers,” said Carrefour director Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.

Russia: X5 to test reverse vending machines in association with Coca-Cola
Russian food retailer X5 Group has teamed up with Coca-Cola to test 'reverse vending machines' in its Pyaterochka stores in Moscow. Through this initiative, the retailer aims to collect and recycle used plastic bottles and aluminium beverage cans. The vending machines will dispense a 15% discount coupon, applicable on a range of Coca-Cola drinks, for each item deposited by customers.

Spain: DIA to extend the term of the conditions to July 19 with its creditors
The supermarket chain DIA reported that it has agreed with most of its creditors to extend the deadline to meet the conditions that will allow activating the agreement reached with them until July 19, when initially the deadline expired on the 15th. In a statement sent to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), the company has assured that it is “working” together with the financial entities to achieve it and that it hopes to reach a solution “no later” this Friday. In the agreement closed with the creditors on June 25, three conditions were established, including that DIA received at least 490mln euros “via capital increase or participative loan”, an injection that it promised to provide - or where appropriate advance - its maximum shareholder, the Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman, in the framework of his takeover of the company.

Competition Authority glad Lidl is entering Estonian market
Once German discount supermarket chain Lidl finally enters the Estonian market, competition between supermarket chains will further increase, meaning more choices and better prices for consumers, said Katrin Tasa, deputy director of the Supervisory Department of the Competition Authority, on Vikerraadio's "Vikerhommik." Currently, 70% of Estonia's retail market is controlled by four retail chains. "The retail market is highly competitive, and with the arrival of Lidl, it will become even more competitive", Tasa said. "The Competition Authority is happy about every newcomer. Considering Lidl's concept, they should also be bringing lower prices with them."

France: Carrefour launches optics with Atol
Carrefour launches into the glasses. The retail chain has signed a partnership with Atol to embark on this buoyant sector. According to the LSA website, the chain of stores has opened its first Carrefour Optique and Audition boutique in its hypermarket in Vénissieux (Rhône-Alpes). A second is planned in Villiers-en-Bière (Seine-et-Marne) in September.

Sweden's Axfood: Q2 sales +6.7%
Sweden-based Axfood has revealed its Q2 2019 results, reporting an increase in net sales of 6.7% to SEK13.0bln (US$1.4bln). For the three months to 30 June, operating profit also rose by 10.2% to SEK601mln (US$64.1mln), while net profit totalled SEK429mln (US$45.8mln). Axfood attributes the growth to “Willys’ continued strong performance as well as by Axfood Snabbgross’s profitable growth”. Willys generated an 8.9% increase in sales, while Snabbgross grew by 6.8%, Dagab by 6.7% and Hemköp by 0.4%. CEO Klas Balkow said the growth was “proof that our various food concepts are consolidating already strong positions in their respective segments. The store network is growing and being upgraded, and we are happy to see that every new store is welcomed by a constantly growing and loyal customer base.” The results translate to an overall 5.5% increase in first-half sales to SEK25.0bln (US$2.7bln). Operating profit and net profit also increased by 10.9% to SEK1.1bln (US$117.3mln) and by 4.9% to SEK783mln (US$83.5mln), respectively.

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