AmazonFresh expands to Houston, Minneapolis and Phoenix

Lidl: first store in central Pennsylvania

Canada: Longo’s set to open new meals-focused store format
Canadian grocer Longo Brothers Fruit Market next week plans to debut a store format focusing on meals and snacks. Called Pronto Eats, the 1,000-square-foot, convenience-based grocery store is set to open August 26 inside the Hudson’s Bay Centre shopping mall and office development in downtown Toronto. Longo’s said the outlet will carry a wide variety of ready-to-eat and semi-prepared meal and snack options, along with a specialized Longo’s Café service. Longo’s said Pronto Eats caters to busy workers and commuters by offering a range of choices for each of the 35 meal and snacking occasions per week. The store also will offer delivery and free pickup through the retailer’s Grocery Gateway online service.

US report: Gen X and boomers embrace home delivery
New research by payments company Blackhawk Network finds that despite all the attention paid to millennial and Gen Z consumers, Gen X and Baby Boomers have substantial purchasing power and are not only buying in-store and online but are open to experimenting with new platforms, as well. Across Gen X and boomer shoppers surveyed, nearly one in three reported shopping online “all the time,” while 60% of both groups have ordered groceries online with at-home delivery - a rate higher than Gen Z and millennials. The survey of more than 10,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 75 also found that 46% of Gen X'ers and 40% of boomers shop online at least once monthly. 82% of both groups say they shop in brick-and-mortar stores at least once a month, though most are not inclined to use new payment options like voice recognition and cashier-less checkout.

US: Automation comes to grocery pickup
As automated technology continues to spread across the grocery industry, startup Cleveron has unveiled a new robotic pickup kiosk that can retrieve customer orders within 20 seconds, according to a company press release emailed to Grocery Dive. Workers fill the robotic kiosk with grocery orders, then customers scan a mobile QR code or enter a passcode at the console to retrieve their groceries. The unit operates similar to an order vending system Walmart began testing in 2017 at a store in Oklahoma, though a different company manufactures that system. Cleveron also manufactures Walmart's Pickup Towers, which store non-grocery pickup orders for customers and debuted in stores three years ago. The Cleveron unit comes in two sizes - a 23-foot-long version and a 43-foot-long one. Both are roughly the width of a parking spot. The smaller unit holds 124 crates while the larger unit holds 276 crates. Each crate can be manufactured with one or two temperature zones to accommodate perishables, general merchandise and frozen goods.

US: AmazonFresh adds Houston, Minneapolis and Phoenix
Amazon has expanded its Fresh grocery delivery service to three new cities: Houston, Minneapolis and Phoenix. AmazonFresh is an add-on available only to Prime and Prime Student members for an additional $14.99 per month. Customers in these markets can now shop from tens of thousands of products and have them delivered in as little as one or two hours, depending on the area. Options include meat, seafood and fresh produce, in addition to center store items. Beer and wine are also available to select customers in Houston.

US: Instacart has added H-E-B as an online grocery option in select Dallas-Fort Worth ZIP codes
Instacart is taking a step into Dallas-Fort Worth that H-E-B hasn't yet. The online grocery shopping and delivery service has added H-E-B as a local option in some Dallas-Fort Worth ZIP codes. So while the popular and largest Texas-based grocer hasn't opened H-E-B stores in the most densely populated parts of Dallas-Fort Worth, Instacart is bringing it here through deliveries. The shopping service's employees can purchase from any store for its Instacart members and recently added H-E-B locally.

US: Lidl opens 1st central Pennsylvania store
Lidl opened its first store in central Pennsylvania - the discount grocer’s third store in the state - at the Shoppes at Wyndham near York College in Spring Garden Township on August 21. The 7:40 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off a spate of limited-time special offers, giveaways and prizes expected to continue through the weekend. “We are very excited for Lidl’s opening at the Shoppes at Wyndham”, said George Bullard, developer of the shopping center and president of real estate development company SpringLane LLC. “What an incredible amenity to bring to our community. We know they are going to do exceptionally well.” 

UAE: Kraftheinz and Carrefour break the Guinness World Records title for world's tallest packaged food display
KraftHeinz has collaborated with Carrefour, which is operated in the UAE by Majid Al Futtaim, to celebrate the global love for the beloved condiment to an entirely new level by breaking the Guinness World Record’s title for the tallest Packaged Food Display using hundreds of Heinz products. 52 volunteers spent more than 48 hours building the record-breaking tower, which included a total 883 bottles and reached an impressive height of 3.37 meters. To mark this momentous achievement, KraftHeinz has placed giant tributes to the record-breaking tower in three Carrefour hypermarkets: Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Ajman and Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi. These tributes will add even more fun to the Carrefour shopping experience in these three stores, and allow thousands of people across the UAE to enjoy the visual delight of this new world record.

Portugal: Retailer Sonae's first-half sales up 11%, profit halves on year-ago gain
Portugal’s largest retailer Sonae posted an 11% increase in first-half sales to almost 3bln euros ($3.3bln) while its operating profitability improved, although net profit halved due to a one-off gain a year earlier. The conglomerate, which runs 174 Continente hypermarkets and large supermarkets, Worten consumer electronics stores, Sportzone stores and other retail chains, said in a statement its underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 24% to 243mln euros. Underlying EBITDA margin increased by almost one percentage point to 8.1%. Still, net profit fell 53% to 38mln euros after a one-off gain from the sale of a stake in software company Outsystems in 2018. Excluding that effect, comparable net profit would have risen 24%, Sonae said.

UK: Morrisons shuts four supermarkets, putting 400 jobs at risk
Morrisons is closing four supermarkets, putting more than 400 jobs at risk. The Bradford-based grocer said the decision was made after a review of the performance of its 494 stores. The stores shutting are in Crawley, Ince near Wigan, Shirley in Solihull and Swindon town centre. A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We will now be going through a consultation process at the stores and discussing how to reduce redundancies and where possible redeploy colleagues.”

India: Amazon announces launch of Amazon Fresh store with 2-hour delivery
Amazon India announced the launch of Amazon Fresh store - which will allow customers get daily essentials delivered in two hours - in Bengaluru. The Amazon Fresh store will serve a complete grocery experience across fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, ice-creams, and dry grocery with 2-hour delivery slots powered by Prime Now from 6 AM to midnight on, the company said in a statement. “With Amazon Fresh, customers can experience the convenience and speed of ordering daily essentials on Now, customers can order the freshest fruits and vegetables as well as everyday grocery and get it within 2 hours. We are starting this service in Bengaluru and will soon roll this out to customers in other cities”, Amazon India Director - Category Management, Siddharth Nambiar, said.

UK retail sales collapse at fastest pace since 2008: CBI
British retail sales plunged in August at the fastest pace since December 2008, according to a survey that added to signs of a slowing economy ahead of Brexit in just over two months' time. The Confederation of British Industry's gauge of retailers - or the difference between those reporting rising and falling sales volumes - slumped to -49 in August from -16 in July, the second weakest reading since records began in 1983. That was worse than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that pointed to an improvement to -11.

Australia: 2019 full year results release from Coles
Coles Group reported: full year group sales revenue (excluding fuel sales and hotels) increased by 3.1% to $35.0bln; Delivered 47th consecutive quarter of Supermarkets comparable sales growth; Supermarkets EBIT growth of 2.2%; group EBIT down 8.1% due to lower Express fuel volumes and corporate costs associated with being a standalone ASX company; 30% online sales growth generating $1.1bln in sales revenue, and first operating profit in FY19; Strong cash realisation of 110% and robust balance sheet with net debt position improving to $0.5bln, providing significant flexibility for long term growth; The Coles Board has determined a total fully-franked dividend of 35.5 cents per share, comprising a final dividend and a special dividend which covers the period from 28 November 2018 (being the effective date of the demerger from Wesfarmers) to 30 June 2019.

UK: Iceland has recycled 1mln plastic bottles in a year since introducing ‘reverse vending machines’
Iceland says it has recycled more than 1mln plastic bottles since May 2018, when it installed reverse vending machines in five of its stores. The supermarket became the first in the industry to introduce the deposit scheme, which allows customers to dispose of empty plastic bottles - though only those bought at Iceland - by simply scanning a bar code. The machines were trialled for a 12-month period in stores in Fulham, Mold, Musselburgh, Wolverhampton, and Belfast (the latter two began slightly later).

UK: Disruption for Ocado customers as it suffers second fire this year
A fire at a major Ocado depot has caused disruption to its food deliveries just months after another of its sites was destroyed in a blaze. London Fire Brigade said four fire engines and around 25 firefighters spent three hours bringing the flames under control at the warehouse in Erith, southeast London on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Ocado's share price closed more than 3% down following the incident. The online supermarket said the fire, which took hold in a waste skip just outside its customer fulfilment centre, had now been extinguished. "Given the facility was evacuated, as required whenever a fire is reported, there was some disruption to picking and some customer orders have had to be cancelled", Ocado said in a statement.

Walmart and Tata group revive talks on strategic partnership in India
American multinational retail giant Walmart has revived talks with India's largest conglomerate Tata group for a strategic partnership in India. The Bentonville-based company is looking to enhance its engagement with Indian consumers in the wholesale cash-and-carry business. The development comes days after Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani announced that the company would be scouting for a global partner for its retail business in India. Meanwhile, Walmart's association with Tata is aimed at the US behemoth leveraging Tata's existing distribution network to expand its outreach to Kirana stores. Walmart also plans to enhance Flipkart's presence in the food and grocery segment. It owns a 77% stake in the ecommerce company.

New Zealand: Countdown rolls out fleet of electric delivery trucks
The country's largest online retailer, Countdown, has rolled out its first of a fleet of electric trucks tasked with delivering online orders. The supermarket operator, owned by ASX-listed Woolworths, says it spent close to $700,000 to purchase five electric delivery trucks, which it estimates will eliminate 350,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions each year. The new trucks are able to drive up to 220 kilometres on a single charge. Countdown also received a grant worth close to $400,000 from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to help cover costs associated with converting its existing diesel delivery trucks to electric.


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