Metro: Most valuable grocery brand in Canada

Largest Whole Foods in the East Coast is now open in Virginia

US: Chris Sherrell departs Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Chris Sherrell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, has announced his departure from the company. “I am extremely proud of the company I was able to build as well as our mission of bringing fresh and healthy food at an amazing value to dozens of communities”, said Sherrell. “As happens with many entrepreneurs, as Fresh Thyme has matured, I am ready for my next challenge”. Sherrell has led Fresh Thyme since its beginning in 2012 and the company has since grown to 77 stores, primarily in the upper Midwest. Effective with Sherrell’s departure, Gerald Melville has been selected to lead Fresh Thyme in the role of President. A 39-year retail veteran, Melville joins Fresh Thyme from Meijer where he was a Regional Vice President of Stores, overseeing operations for nearly 50 Meijer supercenters in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Pay with your face system coming to Canada, but not everyone is on board
The next time you forget your wallet at home, you may be able to pay with your face. A Toronto-based grocery store chain says it plans on deploying what is being called Canada’s first facial recognition payment system in at least one of its stores by early next year. But one security expert is raising concerns over the use of biometric data in the name for convenience, and the potential it carries for security breaches of such highly-sensitive and personal information. Foodymart, a Chinese supermarket chain with 6 locations in the Toronto area and 2 in British Columbia, said in an interview that it plans on purchasing facial recognition payment machines from SnapPay, a Toronto-based platform that specializes in bringing international payment methods such as AliPay and WeChat Pay to Canadian retailers. Neither company would disclose the details of the purchase agreement, which is still being finalized, but SnapPay said it is hoping to deliver its first facial payment system to FoodyMart in the first quarter of next year.

US: Smart & Final launches revamped shopping portals
Warehouse-style grocery chain Smart & Final has launched redesigned shopping websites for consumer and business customers. Now live, the new and sites bring a fresh look plus a range of new features and tools, Commerce, California-based Smart & Final said. Household customers can see weekly specials on Smart & Final’s digital circular and coupons, as well as add items from a shopping list or their virtual cart for delivery. They also can now shop by recipe for simpler meal planning and build and save customized shopping lists. Customers, too, can create a profile to reflect dietary allergies or preferences, and through their personal account they can manage subscriptions, payment options and purchase history.

Canadian grocer turning 720,000 plastic bags into public benches and tables
A number of spots in Atlantic Canada will be getting new public seating and tables that are made from tens of thousands of plastic bags. Sobeys Inc. is behind the initiative, which will keep a total of 720,000 plastic bags out of landfills. The first large table and bench system was unveiled on the Halifax Waterfront and it’s made from 60,000 plastic bags. It’s a unique design that seat 20 people and has accessible seating as well. "The bench designs bring sustainability, innovation and functionality together in a very unique way”, says Vittoria Varalli, vice-president of sustainability at Sobeys.

US: Largest Whole Foods on the East Coast opens in Tysons
The largest Whole Foods in the East Coast is now open in Virginia. It opened Wednesday morning, and it's is no ordinary grocery store. The store is part of a larger plan to change its neighborhood and cut down on congestion. "I’ve been here 20 years, and basically all we’ve had is the mall", said resident T.J. Fitzpatrick. He arrived about 30 minutes before the Whole Foods opened. He said there were 150 people ahead of him in a line that wrapped around the block. 

US: Why supermarkets are building 'dark stores'
America's top supermarkets are facing a new challenge: Grocery aisles in stores aren't suited to meet the growing demand for online orders. So Walmart, Albertsons, Stop & Shop, Meijer, Hy-Vee and others are building automated mini-warehouses inside their stores and opening up "dark stores" - locations that look like supermarkets but are closed to customers - to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders. Although only around 5% of US shoppers buy their groceries online today, analysts expect that number to rise in the coming years. For grocers that partner with third-party services, often "there are as many people selecting for Instacart as there are customers", said Bill Bishop, co-founder of retail and grocery consulting firm Brick Meets Click.

US: Sprouts to slow growth in 2020, build smaller stores
Sprouts Farmers Market will slow its store growth next year as the company adjusts its marketing and operational strategies, CEO Jack Sinclair said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call. The specialty retailer plans to open 20 stores in 2020 compared to 28 this year, as well as resume or possibly even accelerate its pace of around 30 store openings per year in 2021, Sinclair said. Long-term, Sinclair expects Sprouts to build smaller stores - a reflection of rising building costs and the fact that Sprouts’ crop of smaller stores are more productive than its larger ones. The chief executive said the company will assess how to build a more scaled-down prototype over the next year or so. Sprouts beat analysts’ expectations for Q3, with net sales up 8% to $1.4bln and comps up 1.5%. Net income was down 32% to $26mln, driven in part by a new lease accounting standard. Sprouts raised its guidance for 2019 to a range of $1.10 to $1.13 per share.

Canada: Metro named most valuable grocery brand
Metro is the most valuable grocery brand in Canada, and 19th most valuable Canadian brand overall, according to new research from market research firm Kantar and the communications and advertising holding company WPP. The first ever Canadian BrandZ report ranks brands based on financial analysis and consumer research to measure the value of a brand, and determine how much that brand contributes to the overall value of the business. For Metro, the BrandZ analysis determined the brand is worth US$1.698bln to the business, good for 19th spot on the list.

Brazil: GPA supermarket chain reports 29.9% rise in Q3 net income
Brazilian supermarket chain Grupo Pão de Açúcar SA reported a 29.9% rise in its third-quarter net income year-on-year. In a securities filing, the Brazilian subsidiary of French group Casino Guichard Perrachon SA said its consolidated net profit hit 166mln reais ($41.61mln) according to new international accounting standards known as IFRS 16. Considering only continuing operations, net income attributed to controlling shareholders grew by 22.5% to 233mln.

Czech investor Kretinsky & partner raise stake in Metro to 29.99%
Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky and Slovak partner Patrik Tkac will raise their stake in German wholesaler Metro AG following a failed takeover bid earlier this year, their joint investment vehicle said. EP Global Commerce (EPGC) said it had exercised a call option to buy shares from German family-owned investment group Haniel and raise its stake to 29.99% from 17.52%, just below the threshold that would trigger a full takeover bid. The closing of the deal is expected on November 6, EPGC said, adding it underlined its “commitment of EPGC to Metro AG as a responsible strategic investor”. The move will make EPGC Metro’s largest shareholder.

China: Alibaba revives IPO plan, likely to list after 11.11 say sources
Alibaba is resuming plans to list on the Hong Kong exchange in a move expected to raise US$10–15bln. Earlier listing plans scheduled for August were put on hold during the recent political unrest in the territory. The firm may now seek a listing as early as this month, with official filings seeking approval for the listing set to occur following its 11-11 shopping event. Alibaba held the largest IPO in history in 2014 on the New York exchange, raising $25bln. It currently has a market capitalisation of about $460bln.

SPAR Italy fights rising levels of obesity
With its continued focus on fighting increasing levels of obesity in the country, DESPAR Italia recently presented at Obesity Week, a week-long event in Parma that includes conferences, debates and other activities to do with the topic of obesity. During one of the conference sessions, doctors, academics and business leaders exchanged ideas and information on the best ways to prevent obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle. A specific focus was placed on diabetes - a wide-spread condition among obesity sufferers. The methods used so far to counter diabetes were analysed and discussed, and new solutions and ideas were presented.

Amazon plans full-on expansion to Netherlands
Amazon wants to turn its Dutch website into a fully functional web shop in 2020. Until now, only e-books have been for sale on; for other products, Dutch customers are referred to In an internal communication from the web giant, which was handed down to Dutch website Emerce, Amazon is already calling for Dutch suppliers and salespeople to create a sales account for the Netherlands. It remains to be seen whether much will actually change in practice, since Amazon has been working on the Dutch market for some time now through its German branch. The company has already translated a whole series of product pages into Dutch: more than 3mln items are already available to Dutch consumers and can be delivered within 24 hours. In any case, there will be not be a Dutch distribution centre: deliveries will continue to be made from a number of warehouses just across the German border.

UK: Tesco to remove 1bln pieces of plastic from products by the end of 2020
Tesco has announced it will remove 1bln pieces of plastic from products for sale in UK stores by the end of 2020 as a part of its 4R’s plan to tackle the use of plastics in its business. Tesco’s 4 R’s strategy - Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - means it will remove non-recyclable and excess packaging from its business. Where it can’t be removed, for example where it prevents food waste, Tesco will work with its suppliers to reduce it to an absolute minimum. The retailer will explore new opportunities to reuse its packaging and ensure that anything left is all recycled as part of a closed loop. If packaging can’t be recycled, it will have no place at Tesco.

Australia: Supermarket giant Woolworths to open smallest ever store in Sydney
Supermarket giant Woolworths will open its smallest ever store on Monday, trialling a convenience-style cashless shop targeted at city workers. The 50 metre square shop will stock a fraction of the 20,000 lines of a regular supermarket and will focus on ready-to-go breakfasts, lunches, snacks and drinks. Still a worksite, crews will work around the clock this weekend to have the trial store, named Metro Go, in Sydney's Surry Hills open for business on Monday.

Qatar: Carrefour celebrates 19th anniversary
Carrefour’s 19th anniversary celebrations are underway with a series of unique offers and rewards for customers until November 5, 2019 in all Carrefour stores, according to a statement. The celebrations started with a Spin & Win game, where every hour a lucky customer won their trolley for free, for a total of 1,050 trolleys spread throughout the first week of the anniversary period, from October 23-29. Moreover, MyClub members entered an electronic draw every time they used their MyClub digital card on the Carrefour application during check-out.

China: Supermarket operators tap online consumers, data to boost bricks-and-mortar stores
Chinese supermarket operators are increasingly using digital channels and data to boost their business. “Our offline stores have been hit badly by online platforms, with shrinking foot traffic and plunging sales”, Peter Huang Ming-Tuan, chairman of RT-Mart China, a supermarket operator, told the 2019 Consumer Goods Forum, held in Hangzhou. If we stayed the same, it would lead to our demise, he added, while going online amounted to playing with fire. The company decided to “court disaster, instead of waiting and doing nothing”, Huang said.

Sweden's ICA: 3.4% sales increase
ICA Sweden saw consolidated net sales increase by 3.4% to SEK29,818mn (US$3,079mln) in Q3 2019. Operating profit, excluding items affecting comparability, for the period was SEK1,599mln (US$165mln) and cash flow from operating activities amounted to SEK 1,915mln (US$198mln). Commenting on the results, CEO Per Strömberg said: “Today we can report yet another good quarter with consistently stable earnings performance. The exception is Apotek Hjärtat, where sales and earnings during the quarter were unfortunately hurt by the disruptions, we experienced during the start-up of the automated warehouse in Norrköping”.

New Zealand: Foodstuffs strengthens data capability
New Zealand's largest grocery retailer has signed a deal with data analytics company dunnhumby. Foodstuffs is the first retailer in New Zealand to partner with dunnhumby, who launched thier business in the region by setting up in Australia in 2018. Foodstuffs business is split into two entities, Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island. The deal is with the North Island part of the business, who operate around 400 stores across foodbarn, supermarkets, convenience, liqour and wholesale formats. The partnership will see dunnhumby analyse Foodstuffs sales and customer data to help make better decisions about store locations, ranging, pricing, promotions and bringing better personalsation to its loyalty programme members. The data analytics firm dunnhumby has said that it is in talks with all Australian grocery retailers and is set to announce further partnerships in the region next month.

Finland's Kesko: +6.1% sales increase
Kesko has revealed its “all-time best quarter” results, reporting a 6.1% net sales increase to €2,803.9mln (US$3,107.7mln). Operating profit was €152mln (US$168.5mln), up €15mln from the same period last year. Kesko’s grocery sales increased by 3.3%, ahead of the market. The retailer said all its formats saw sales growth but growth was especially strong in K-Citymarket. Kesko said it will continue the “determined customer-oriented transformation of its business and execution of its strategy”. It expects net sales for continuing operations for the next 12 months to exceed the level of the previous 12 months. President and CEO Mikko Helander commented: “I am particularly pleased that in line with our strategy we have been able to strengthen our profitable growth and market shares both organically and through successful acquisitions”.

Foodpanda now delivers groceries, flowers & more in Singapore
Online food delivery firm Foodpanda announced it’s expanding its on-demand delivery services in Singapore to include groceries, flowers and household essentials. The company has tapped over 1,000 retailers across the city-state to offer convenience products, beauty essentials and baby care items on its platform for delivery, according to a statement. Some of its partners include Caltex Starmart, Hao Mart, TigerNow, Mothercare, and Toki. Foodpanda is offering free delivery on all shop orders throughout November and a S$10 discount for first-time orders.

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