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Penny Market has increased minimum net wage for its employees in Romania

Aldi: A new supermarket planned to open in the UK each week

Ahold Delhaize and Hanshow Technology announce partnership to enhance digital customer experience
Ahold Delhaize announced a strategic partnership with Hanshow Technology to introduce digital in-store applications for its European brands. As a first step in this collaboration, the brands will deploy Hanshow’s electronic shelf labels across their store networks. In addition, Ahold Delhaize and Hanshow will set up a Joint Innovation Lab to develop new in-store functions and capabilities. Ahold Delhaize and Hanshow started collaborating in early 2018 with electronic shelf labels (ESL) in stores at Delhaize Belgium and Albert Heijn in the Netherlands. ESL allows customers to easily obtain product information and pay conveniently with mobile phones or near-field communication (NFC) cards and also allows for quicker and more dynamic pricing methods, such as automated price reductions for items close to the expiration date. This partnership has been extended and intensified so that the two companies will now collectively develop new digital solutions for all Ahold Delhaize’s European brands.

GIC buys into Vietnam’s Vingroup retail unit
A GIC-led investment group has purchased a minority shareholding in a Vingroup JSC retail business for US$500mln. The Vietnamese business, VCM Services and Trading Development JSC, is a recent venture set up to oversee the group’s VinMart-branded supermarket and convenience store chains. A statement by the Singapore sovereign wealth fund released last week stated that the subsidiary and its parent firm had “established themselves as reputable retail companies with attractive brands in Vietnam’s fast-growing consumer market”.

German retailer Penny Market ups entry-level salary in Romania
Supermarket chain Penny Market, part of German group Rewe, has increased the minimum net wage for its employees in Romania to RON2,000 (EUR 425) per month, which includes the meal vouchers. The decision became effective on August 1. “The increase of the minimum net income to RON 2,000 is part of our retention strategy and required considerable efforts”, said Daniel Gross, General Manager Penny Market.

UK: Aldi plans to open a new supermarket each week
Aldi plans to open a new store in the UK every week on average for the next two years, its boss has told the BBC. Giles Hurley said the discount retailer would invest £1bln to achieve its aim. "The reality is that almost 50% of the population of the UK doesn't currently shop with us and they tell us the main reason for that is that they don't have a store near us", he said. Aldi's pledge came as it reported a sales rise for last year, but saw profits fall sharply.

Ireland: Musgrave Group names new Chief Executive
Musgrave Group has announced the appointment of Noel Keeley as its new chief executive, effective 1 January 2020. Keeley, who currently hold the position of managing director of Musgrave Wholesale Partners, the group's wholesale division, will take over from Chris Martin, who announced his departure from the business earlier this year. In a statement, Musgrave said that Keeley has 'transformed' the group's Musgrave MarketPlace format, as well as leading the growth of SuperValu and Centra in Northern Ireland, which also forms part of the Musgrave Wholesale Partners operation.

UK: Supermarkets caught up in refrigeration wastage row
Supermarket chains face growing pressure to reduce the amount of energy they expend through refrigeration and specify equipment that limits damage to the environment. It was revealed recently that supermarket refrigeration uses a massive 1% of Britain’s electricity, with a large part of this blamed on refrigeration units that don’t have doors and are constantly open. While most supermarkets are now paying close attention to their carbon footprints, more than 30,000 UK citizens have signed a petition urging the government to ban open fridges and freezers in all retail outlets. Campaigners argue that supermarkets could cut energy usage by 25% just by having doors on refrigeration equipment. The move has led to refrigeration supplier Capital Cooling offering supermarkets the option of free glass doors when they purchase its Galaxy integral multidecks, which come in five sizes. Capital Cooling CEO, Steve Steadman, said: "Extensive research and development has allowed us to offer full glass doors, which are available in both hinged and sliding, as a free option on all of our Galaxy Multideck models".

UK's Waitrose H1: Slight decline in LFLs but category reviews strengthen margins
In a tough UK grocery market, Waitrose & Partners has reported resilient first half sales but will accelerate its focus on innovation to further differentiate its brand in the months ahead. LFL sales for the 26 weeks to July 27th were down 0.4%, with growth of 1.1% in Q1 followed by a decline of -1.6% in Q2, against a challenging period from 2018 when sales were boosted by the World Cup and exceptional summer weather. Total revenues were down 0.7%. Profits (at £110.1mln, pre-exceptionals) were however higher than last year, with improved gross margins offsetting higher wages and marketing costs. During the period Waitrose & Partners completed 47 category reviews, covering roughly two thirds of its range. While SKUs in reviewed categories were cut by 11%, Waitrose reports that the customer experience has improved and the process has delivered uplifts to sales and gross margins, while also reducing waste.

Groupe Casino makes further progress on Latin America simplification
Groupe Casino has signed agreements with Latin American businesses Grupo Pao de Acucar (GPA) and Éxito in view of the forthcoming launch by GPA of an all-cash tender offer on Éxito. The move comes as part of Casino's simplification plan for its Latin American operations, which eventually will see it own 41.4% of GPA, which itself would control Colombian retailer Éxito and its Uruguay and Argentina subsidiaries. In a statement, Casino said that it has completed 'the corporate approvals necessary to the launch by GPA of an all-cash tender offer on Éxito and the acquisition by Casino of the shares held by Éxito in Segisor (which itself holds directly and indirectly 99.9% of the voting rights and 37.3% of the economic rights in GPA)'.

Canada: Dollarama raises full-year comparable-store sales forecast
Canadian discount retailer Dollarama Inc's raised its full-year comparable-store sales forecast, after reporting better-than-expected quarterly sales, benefiting from investments in its online business and higher demand for its products. The Montreal-based company, whose products are priced between C$1 and C$4, has been trying to fend off competition from the likes of Walmart Inc's Canada unit and Dollar Tree and boost sales by keeping price hikes at a minimum. "Customers are responding positively to our compelling product offering and various merchandising tactics, as demonstrated by our strong top line performance for a second consecutive quarter," chief executive officer Neil Rossy said.

US: Save Mart banners reach tentative agreement with NorCal workers
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 8-Golden State has reached tentative agreements with the Save Mart, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value banners in Northern and Central California. This isn't the first time UCFW 8-Golden State has been in the news recently, having reached agreements with Safeway and Vons earlier this summer. The union continues negotiations with Raley's, Bel Air and Nob Hob. In Southern California, UCFW Local 770 reached a tentative agreement with Kroger and Albertsons banners.

Report: Online US grocery market grows 15%
Online grocery sales have grown more than 15% on a year-over-year basis and now account for 6.3% of total grocery-related spending by households in the U.S., according to a new report. Retail insights firm Brick Meets Click just released an analysis on the state of the U.S. online grocery market. According to the analysis, several factors are driving the growth of the U.S. online grocery market in 2019: Household penetration, based on past-month shopping activity, has risen more than five percentage points over the last year to nearly 25% of all U.S. households. This gain is largely the result of an aggressive expansion of home delivery and pickup services available at brick-and-mortar stores, which collectively are now accessible to 90% of all the households in the US - up from 81% in 2018. Average order values, encompassing ship-to-home, home delivery, and pickup orders, have climbed over 6% to $70 in 2019. When only analyzing home delivery and pickup orders across various retail trade channels, the average order value grew 13% to just over $100. Online purchase frequency for groceries remains relatively unchanged versus last year, averaging two orders during the past month for active online grocery customers. Ship-to-home orders account for 50% of all online grocery orders while pickup captures 28% and home delivery 22% of the orders respectively.

US: Stop & Shop unveils 21 remodeled stores on Long Island with completion of $133mln capital investment
Stop & Shop, a neighborhood grocer for more than 100 years, has introduced a fresh new look at 21 Suffolk County stores on Long Island. The new look comes with a $133mln capital investment to improve the in-store experience for local customers, with a focus on delivering more fresh, healthy, and convenient options, plus lower prices on items throughout the store. Stop & Shop employs over 8,000 associates on Long Island and has added approximately 350 part-time associates, while also promoting nearly 100 associates to full-time positions as part of this initiative and its efforts to enhance the customer experience.

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