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Kroger: Quarterly same-store sales growth beat analysts’ estimates

Walmart: Delivery Unlimited expands nationwide

US: Stop & Shop to help customers answer “What’s for dinner?” during National Family Meals Month
To celebrate National Family Meals Month, Stop & Shop is offering thousands of customers free access to The Dinner Daily, an award-winning meal planning service. Up to 30,000 Stop & Shop customers can join and use The Dinner Daily for free from now until the end of 2019, courtesy of Stop & Shop. The Dinner Daily provides users with a customized weekly dinner menu based on their family’s food preferences and what’s on sale at their local Stop & Shop store. “As our customers adjust to busy back-to-school routines, we’re hoping to make dinners easier with this stress-free way to plan their weekly family meals and save money while doing it”, said Whitney Clarke, Chief Marketing Officer, Stop & Shop. “Stop & Shop and The Dinner Daily are excited to offer this service to our customers to help take the challenge out of the nightly ‘what’s for dinner’ question”.

US: KeHE announces partnership agreement with MOM's Organic Market
KeHE Distributors (KeHE) announced that it has been awarded the primary distribution contract for MOM's Organic Market (MOMs) based in Rockville, Maryland. The multi-year agreement includes supplying all natural, organic and specialty products for MOM's growing network of 19 organic grocery stores located in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. Founded in 1987, over the past thirty-two years MOM's Organic Market has established itself as one of the premier natural and organic food retailers in the nation. Speaking about the partnership, Gene Carter, COO of KeHE stated: "MOM's is one of a handful of natural food merchants that 'set the standard' for excellence and authenticity in organic grocery retailing. Our companies share common values, a passion for healthy food and a commitment to sustainable practices. We are honored MOM's has chosen KeHE as their primary distribution partner."

US: Walmart is expanding its ‘unlimited’ grocery delivery service nationwide
Walmart said it will be expanding a new “unlimited” grocery delivery service, which costs users $98 annually, to 1,400 stores this fall. The biggest retailer in the world had earlier this year been testing what it calls Delivery Unlimited in four markets - Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City and Tampa. As part of the nationwide rollout, it said the service will be available in 200 metro areas where it already has regular grocery delivery, reaching more than 50% of the U.S. population, by the end of the year. Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited gives shoppers the option to pay either $98 per year or $12.95 per month to receive unlimited grocery delivery orders to their homes. Typically, on an order-by-order basis, delivery would cost an additional $9.99. In addition to fresh produce, meat and bakery items, some general merchandise is offered under the new unlimited service, the company said.

Canada: Momentum continues - Empire posts increased first quarter fiscal 2020 earnings
Empire Company Limited ("Empire" or the "Company") announced its financial results for the first quarter ended August 3, 2019. For the quarter, the Company recorded adjusted net earnings, net of non-controlling interest, of $133.9mln ($0.49 per share) compared to $100.2mln ($0.37 per share) last year, an increase of 34%. "The momentum created by our team's hard work and execution over the last two years continued in our first quarter. Our results, in the face of a late start to the seasonal summer weather, underline our confidence in our strengthening business. Strong margins, good sales growth and Project Sunrise benefits all underpin a solid quarter", said Michael Medline, President and CEO, Empire.

US Foods receives conditional approval to acquire SGA’s Food Group of Companies
US Foods Holding Corp. (US Foods) announced that it has received conditional approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to acquire SGA’s Food Group of Companies (SGA Food Group) for $1.8bln in cash. The five operating companies being acquired are Food Services of America, Inc. (FSA), Systems Services of America, Inc., Amerifresh, Inc., Ameristar Meats, Inc. and GAMPAC Express, Inc. US Foods expects to close the acquisition in the next few days. As a condition to receiving regulatory clearance from the FTC, US Foods will divest three FSA distribution facilities located in Kent (Seattle), Washington; Meridian (Boise), Idaho; and Fargo, North Dakota. US Foods plans to retain a portion of the business currently serviced from the Kent facility. Divestiture proceeds of approximately $90mln will be used to reduce US Foods’ debt. The combined annual Adjusted EBITDA of the facilities to be divested was approximately $21mln for fiscal 2018. Definitive agreements for each of the divestitures have been entered into with each of the respective buyers, and we expect to close these transactions within 30 days following the completion of the SGA Food Group acquisition.

US: Kroger quarterly same-store sales beat estimates
Kroger Co’s quarterly same-store sales growth beat analysts’ estimates, helped by the supermarket chain’s delivery services and online business. Sales at supermarkets open for more than a year, excluding the impact of fuel prices, rose 2.2% in the second quarter ended August 17. Analysts were expecting 1.91% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Net earnings attributable to Kroger fell to $297mln, or 37 cents per share, in the quarter, from $508mln, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier.

Amazon launches Prime in Brazil
Amazon has rolled out its Prime membership service in Brazil, as it looks to further develop its offer in the market. The new service will hopefully drive increased loyalty for the online retailer, opening up what it describes as an the “largest benefit offering ever made available in programme launches in 14 years of history”. Services available to those that sign up will include: exclusive offers, free two-day delivery, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading and Twitch Prime. Two-day delivery will be available in 90 municipalities across Brazil on more than 500,000 products for members. The service in Brazil will be priced at BRL$9.90 (US$2.4) a month, or BRL$89 (US$22) for an annual subscription. This compares with the annual US fee of US$119.

Lidl Romania boasts 130 local suppliers for fresh produce section
German retailer Lidl has over 130 Romanian suppliers for its fresh produce section and up to 70% of the produce it sells in summer is local, a company official said. “Over 130 of our fruit and vegetable suppliers are Romanian and their number is growing. Consumers like Romanian products”, said Claudius Kisfaludy, produce acquisition manager at Lidl Romania. In August, the peak month for fruit and vegetable consumption, the share of Romanian suppliers in Lidl's portfolio reached 70% compared with 30% off-season. Lidl has 247 stores and five logistical warehouses in Romania.

UK: Morrisons expands super-fast Amazon delivery deal
Morrisons has expanded its partnership with Amazon for ultra-fast same-day grocery deliveries to more cities across the UK, as it reported a drop in quarterly sales. The Bradford-based supermarket group said it had signed a multiyear deal with Amazon, which replaces its previous rolling contract, to cover “many more cities across the UK”. Same-day online grocery home delivery is available to Amazon Prime Now customers in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and parts of London and the home counties. Customers can order a full Morrisons shop online and have their goods delivered by Amazon.

New CEO for Central Food Retail in Thailand
Central Food Retail announced Mr. Stephane Coum as the new CEO and President of Central Food Retail. Prior to this, Coum was the director of operations for Carrefour Italia. With more than 20 years’ experience in international grocery retail, he is now responsible to drive the company’s New Central, New Retail strategy, with a focus on developing borderless retail and digital technology. In addition, Mr. Alistair Taylor has been appointed as the President of Central FamilyMart Company, taking care of the convenience stores within the company. Taylor has been with the Group since 2004 and has led the company for more than a decade.

UK: M&S to bring urban farming to London stores
Marks & Spencer is set to introduce urban farming across a selection of its food stores in London as part of a new partnership. Customers can find a range of fresh herbs growing in vertical farming units in-store. The first store to implement the new urban farming concept is M&S’s newly re-opened Clapham Junction store in south west London. As part of the new partnership with urban farming platform Infarm, the concept will be rolled out to a further six London M&S Food stores by the end of the year. The herbs on offer in the urban farming units include basil, mint, parsley and coriander.

Flipkart expands last-mile delivery to 27K stores across India
Flipkart, a Walmart-owned and India-based digital retailer, has expanded its last-mile delivery services to 27,000 kiranas, or privately-owned local convenience stores. The stores are located across 700 cities and 20 states throughout India. The move is in preparation for India's festival season and Flipkart's Big Billion Day sales event. Media reports indicate Flipkart plans to enhance its capability to deliver to doorsteps and storefronts across India through its significant investments in artificial intelligence-enhanced order allocation software (to overcome the fact that many residences in the country don't have formal addresses) and robotic order fulfillment in its regional warehouses.

UK: Waitrose pulls plug on TDP eCommerce partnership
The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) said that it has decided not to progress Waitrose's eCommerce partnership with Today Development Partners (TDP). The supermarket chain announced in May that the two companies would team up to help treble the size of the Waitrose online grocery business to a £1bln operation over the next three years. It represented a statement of intent from the retailer in the wake of notice being given on its long-term product supply deal with online grocer Ocado. But in JLP’s half-year report, the retail group said the plan is now to “pursue our online ambitions utilising existing expertise across the partnership”. It is still targeting the £1bln sales landmark.

65% of German retailers don’t sell online
Two out of three retailers in Germany still don’t sell their products online. Mostly, it’s grocers, clothing stores and specialists such as jewelers that don’t sell on the internet. A survey held by Handelsverband Deutschland, among 850 retailers in Germany, shows that retail sales in Germany will grow 2% this year, compared to the situation last year. Ecommerce remains to be the industry’s growth driver. Still, many medium-sized retailers are struggling with the challenges of digitization. “Those who are not represented online today, no longer exist for many consumers”, CEO Stefan Genth says. “Customers expect to find the retailer in the pedestrian zone and online.”

Russia, France, Germany, Spain, UK, US, Canada and Australia: AliExpress launches free-returns program
Alibaba Group’s global online marketplace AliExpress is to offer free return and refund for participating categories across eight countries. Buyers in main areas of eight pilot countries including Russia, France, Germany, Spain, the UK, the US, Canada and Australia will be first to participate in the new program. Products participating in the new program range from consumer electronics, jewellery, shoes to cosmetics products. Under the new policy, customers in the eight countries with an eligible address will see a “free return” sign on the webpage of the eligible products. Customers can request a free return and refund for those products within 15 days of receiving their order.

UK: Sainsbury's to halve plastic packaging by 2025, first major retailer to make a commitment of this scale
Sainsbury’s is announcing an ambitious new commitment to reduce plastic packaging by 50% by 2025. This new target includes all branded food packaging, Sainsbury’s brand food packaging and packaging across all of Sainsbury’s operations. Sainsbury’s currently uses almost 120,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per year and believes a transformational leap in thinking is required to move the industry beyond existing efforts at reducing packaging. Sainsbury’s reduced plastic packaging by 1% in 2018. To meet this goal, Sainsbury’s will launch a programme to accelerate change, which will include switching to alternative materials, using lighter-weight plastics and introducing refillable packaging at scale. Following rigorous analysis of its plastic footprint, the key areas of focus for the biggest impact are: plastic milk bottles, packaging for fruit and vegetables, fizzy drinks, water and fruit juices.

Ecommerce Europe and EMOTA join forces
Ecommerce Europe and EMOTA, the two biggest European ecommerce associations, will join forces. The merger will become fully effective as of 1 January next year, with the two associations continuing under the name ‘Ecommerce Europe’. The idea to merges came from EMOTA, its president Frederik Palm revealed. “I am very happy that we will finally speak with one single voice for the common interests of the digital commerce industry in Europe.”

UK: Co-op’s food arm grows to £120mln in “fiercely competitive market”
The Co-op has posted a strong first-half performance in its food division, with underlying operating profits rising 50% to £120mln. This marked its 22nd consecutive quarter of like-for-like growth in food. Total sales went up by three per cent, while like-for-like sales increased by 1.7%. The food retail business attributed the sales growth to its extended online food delivery trials in London using zero emission electric cargo bikes and by partnering with Deliveroo.

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