Asda: Wage growth hits 11-year high

Alibaba eyes Indian e-commerce market and plans to launch a fully-owned business through UCWeb

Switzerland: Aldi to introduce Nutri-Score
Aldi will become the first retailer in the market to introduce the Nutri-Score label system, helping customers to understand which are healthier choices and make buying decisions easier. The retailer has been reducing the sugar, fat and calorie content of its private label products in order to make them healthier for customers and testing the scoring system allows them to demonstrate this in a clear and accessible way to shoppers. The system will be rolled out in 2020, starting with its private label convenience items, such as sandwiches, salads and ready meals. After the initial trial, Aldi may look to roll it out to other categories, depending on the response from customers.

Kenya: Quickmart, Tumaini supermarkets in planned merger
Quickmart and Tumaini supermarkets board of directors have announced their planned merger. In a statement signed by the two managing directors, Duncan Kinuthia (Quickmart) and Moses Nditika (Tumaini), the merger follows the approval by the Competition Authority of Kenya on August 26. Sokoni Retail Kenya has put in an investment in Quickmart. By merging the companies, the board of directors said it will lead to rapid growth by creating 30 retail stores by the end of 2019.

France: Auchan highlights improving results in H1
Auchan Retail generated revenue of €22.7bln in the first half of its financial year, a fall of 2.4% at current exchange rates and by 0.4% at constant exchange rates. On a like-for-like basis, Auchan Retail said revenue fell by 0.8%. The retailer reported the performance of its operations in 12 countries, i.e. excluding Italy and Vietnam, and had restated them due to its concession agreement with Suning in China. Auchan said despite revenue growing, at constant exchange rates, in nine of its countries of operation, these were offset by falls in France and Russia. In its home market the retailer said ‘in a strong competitive environment’ comparable sales fell by 1.3%, while in total they were down by 1.7%. In Russia Auchan said revenue ‘fell sharply at constant exchange rates’. Its performance in Asia, where revenues fell by 5.6% at constant exchange rates, was linked to ‘the subject of a concession agreement Between Sun Art Retail… and a third party… no longer [being] consolidated’. However, there was a more positive performance in its other operations. The retailer said revenue grew by 1.1% in South Europe, driven by its operations in Portugal.

UK: Asda’s income tracker gets another welcome boost as wage growth hits an 11-year high
Asda reported: Family spending power was up by £12.05 a week year-on-year in July, a 5.9% annual increase; Wage growth accelerated to 3.9% in the three months to June, the highest in 11 years; The employment rate sits at a joint-record high of 76.1% for the same period, despite unemployment edging up slightly at 3.9%; Faster pay growth was met with an inflation increase though, measuring 2.1% in July, up from 2.0% in the previous month. The Asda Income Tracker is a measure of ‘discretionary income’, reflecting the amount of money remaining after the average UK household has had taxes subtracted from their income and bought essential items such as: groceries, electricity, gas, transport costs and mortgage payments or rent.

Europe: EMD to launch International Data Sharing
European retailer alliance EMD has announced plans to launch a data sharing platform that will give branded manufacturers visibility of sales data from a selected number of its members. EMD said the platform, which it is creating in conjunction with AC Nielsen, will provide sales data from companies like ESD Italia, Euromadi Spain, Globus International, Kaufland and Lenta. The alliance said the platform would enable manufacturers to ‘find exhaustive information about sales performances in the participating sales markets’. EMD said the platform would enable its members and branded manufacturers ‘the possibility to cooperate in the future more closely and [on] customer-oriented [initiatives]’.

India: Bigbasket to have 3,000 e-vehicles by 2020
Leading online grocery company Bigbasket plans to increase the number of electric vehicles for last-mile delivery to 3,000 from the current 200, by 2020. The company aims to have 1,000 electric vans and 2,000 electric bikes within the next one year, it said in a statement. Over the years, Bigbasket has worked with multiple e-van OEMs like Gayam Motors and Euler Motors and certified them for their operations. The company is also introducing e-bikes from brands including Hero, Okinawa, Li-on, and Greaves Cotton in its operations. Through the inclusion push for EVs in its fleet, Bigbasket has been able to lower its delivery costs associated with the delivery of products, the company claimed without giving out the specific numbers.

Alibaba plans to launch e-commerce biz in India through UCWeb: report
China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has set its eyes on the Indian e-commerce market, and plans to launch a fully-owned business in the country through its subsidiary UCWeb. Quoting a senior company official, a PTI report said that the new business plan is not going to be conflicting with Paytm, in which it owns a 30.15% stake. Paytm operates e-commerce business under Paytm Mall. Alibaba also owns a 3% stake in another Indian e-commerce player, Snapdeal. Both these bets in India, however, have been disappointing for Alibaba so far.

Colombia: Regulators order delivery app Rappi to comply with commerce laws
Colombian regulators ordered popular delivery app Rappi to comply with electronic commerce laws, saying the company is offering services that go beyond basic contact between clients and suppliers. The Superintendency of Industry and Commerce also said it was opening an investigation of the app - which specializes in on-demand deliveries for restaurants and supermarkets - after receiving hundreds of customer complaints. Rappi allows clients to have everything from tobacco products to concert tickets delivered to their homes or offices, paying via the app or in cash.

Canada: Mercatus offers AisleOne for ecommerce personalization
Mercatus, a Toronto-based provider of digital commerce solutions for grocery, now includes AisleOne personalization intelligence engine on its retail platform. AisleOne looks at shopper data and behavior, using machine learning and artificial intelligence, to help personalize a customer's online experience. “Shoppers expect and appreciate personalization, but grocers don’t always have the data, systems and permissions to drive an effective level of unique interaction”, said Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus. “With AisleOne available as an enhancement to the Mercatus platform, grocers get a scalable solution, powered by a platform with both the transactional inputs and the holistic engagement experience necessary to create a truly personalized experience.”

US: Fulfillment & assortment key to growth of online grocery food sales
While store-based sales will continue to account for the majority of worldwide edible grocery sales over the next five years, online sales are poised to grow much faster as leading retailers continue to prioritize e-commerce by expanding their online assortment and fulfillment options, according to analysts at e-commerce insights company Edge by Ascential. Edge by Ascential’s “Food & Beverage Sector Report” projects that the $2.8tln global edible grocery sector will experience an online compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% through 2024, increasing total online sales to $162bln by the end of the forecast period.

US: Hy-Vee remodeling Kansas City metro stores
Hy-Vee has revealed that it will remodel 14 of its Kansas City-area stores in Kansas and Missouri to include unique foodservice offerings, new departments, updated signage, improved health-and-wellness services and - at some locations - refreshed convenience stores. Construction is already in progress at several stores, with most renovations expected to wrap up by early next year. “Hy-Vee has a proud history in the Kansas City metro area, opening our first store in Overland Park in 1988”, said Jeremy Gosch, EVP, co-COO and chief retail officer for West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee. “Thirty-one years later, we have 24 stores serving Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan, and are excited to make this nearly $90mln investment in an area that has been a great home to Hy-Vee.”

US: Costco sees 7.9% growth in net sales in FY 2019
Costco has reported net sales of $149.35bln (€135.34bln) in the 52 weeks ended 1 September, up 7.9% from $138.43bln (€125.45bln) in the same period last year. The retailer's overall comparable sales grew 6.1% during the fiscal year, while e-commerce sales were up 23.1%. In the US and Canada, comparable sales grew 7.8% and 1.6% respectively, with other international markets registering a 2.0% growth.

US: Kroger launches plant-based collection
Kroger announced a new private label collection, Simple Truth Plant Based. The line will include fresh meatless burger patties and grinds along with plant-based cookie dough, pasta sauces, sausages, deli slices and more, Gil Phipps, Kroger's vice president of Our Brands, said at the Good Food Conference in San Francisco. New product introductions will roll out to 1,800 of Kroger's roughly 2,800 stores this fall. The company notes Simple Truth Plant Based will feature an easy-to-identify icon that will show up on packages and on A team of nutritionists, food scientists and chefs collaborated to create the recipes. Simple Truth currently brings in more than $2.3bln annually and includes 1,550 organic and natural products.

US: WinCo Foods to anchor Centralia Station
WinCo Foods will expand its presence in Washington state as the anchor tenant of the Centralia Station development, the Port of Centralia announced. Construction of the new store is set to begin in 2020 with an anticipated opening of 2021. The Boise, Idaho-based grocer is not the first to eye the location. Fred Meyer of Portland, Oregon, had originally signed on as the project’s anchor tenant. In December 2018, Fred Meyer announced it would not move forward with its 175,000-square-foot flagship store planned for the location, citing a combination of uncertainty of infrastructure completion, market conditions and cost increases related to timing.

US: 47,000 grocery workers threaten strike
Talks of a private-sector strike have recently arisen, headed primarily by grocery employees at two retail chains. If carried out, the strike will be the largest since a General Motors strike in 2007. CNN Business reports that there are nearly 47,000 workers planning to participate in the strike if their demands are not met. Of the retailers involved are Ralphs and Albertsons, amounting to more than 500 stores participating in the debate. After months of negotiations, it seems that compromise may still be far off. Union officials in California who represent these workers have been in talks with the companies since March, negotiating new three-year contracts that protect employee’s retirement and health benefits as well as raise their pay. While union leaders are continuing the debate, workers have begun to take matters into their own hands by protesting outside their workplace. Contract proposals from the companies will be finalized next week. Should the workers reject said contract, they will have a chance to vote on authorizing a strike.

Walmart sets up pollinator gardens in the US
Walmart has announced that it has set up 21 pollinator gardens in its retail properties in Oregon, Washington, and North Carolina. The pilot project was launched in April 2019 with the planting of the first garden in a Walmart retail location in Garner in North Carolina. A member of Walmart’s environmental, health and safety compliance team, Wendy Widener, said: "We are delighted to initiate this pilot at some of our stores as these flower gardens enhance our landscaping and serve as an important habitat for the birds and insects that play a vital role in plant, vegetable, and fruit reproduction."

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