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Amazon: Record-breaking holiday season

Green Aisle Grocery is shutting down operations

US: Lidl becomes more flexible in expansion push
German hard-discount grocery retailer Lidl has become much more flexible in its store development as it steps up its pace of expansion in the U.S., according to industry observers. When it first entered the U.S. in 2017, Lidl was focused on buying properties and building freestanding stores from the ground up, but it has since shifted to a strategy that includes more leasing and more conversions of former supermarket locations, as well as a reduction in the size of its prototype footprint. “They can often do a remodel or a retrofit much more quickly than building a new store, because they don’t have to deal with new zoning issues or access issues, for example”, said Bob Gorland, vice president at Rahway, New Jersey-based Matthew P. Casey & Associates, which specializes in site selection feasibility research.

Canada: Loblaw introduces No Name to TikTok
Loblaw has taken its quirky No Name advertising campaign to TikTok - a relatively new video-sharing social media platform that’s popular with Gen Z. Over the holidays, the Brampton, Ontario-based grocery company launched its @no.namebrands account. With its humorous approach to marketing, the No Name fits perfectly with the goofiness of TikTok. (TikTok videos are 15-seconds long and often feature dancing and lip synching.)

Amazon announces record-breaking holiday season
Amazon has announced it saw record-breaking sales this holiday season, with customers purchasing billions of products globally. As well as record sales, more Amazon customers tried Prime this holiday season than in any previous year. More than 5mln new customers started Prime free trials or began paid memberships worldwide in one week alone. Across the holiday period, the number of products delivered using Prime Free One-Day and Prime Free Same-Day Delivery almost quadrupled compared to the same period last year.

US: Green Aisle Grocery shutting down
Green Aisle Grocery, a small chain in South Philadelphia, is shutting down operations effective January 31. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Green Aisle, which opened at 1618 E. Passyunk Ave. in late 2009 and expanded to 2241 Grays Ferry Ave. in mid-2014, just couldn't compete with larger grocery chains that have expanded their specialty offerings. The stores are owned by brothers Adam and Andrew Erace. They provided the following statement to the Inquirer: “When we started, agave nectar was considered a specialty ingredient and Walmart grass-fed beef didn’t exist. The increased availability of this kind of food is a very good thing, and we like to think we played a very small role in that, but it’s also made it harder to sustain our tiny shops in the face of well-funded corporate competition. This is especially apparent at our Grays Ferry Avenue location, where we now exist between a Giant and an Amazon depot”.

Thailand: Central Retail Corp plans to raise up to $2.7bln in Thailand's biggest IPO
Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Retail Corporation, plans to raise up to 81.1bln baht ($2.7bln) in an initial public offer (IPO), the company said in a filing, in what would be the country’s largest IPO. Central Retail, part of the billionaire Chirativat family’s Central Group, set an IPO price range at between 40 and 48 baht per share and will sell up to 22.1% of the company’s stock or 1.69bln shares with an overallotment option of 169mln shares. Subscription for investors will begin on February 6.

Aldi to open six new stores in Scotland in 2020
Aldi has announced plans to open a further six stores in Scotland this year as it continues its expansion across the UK. Two will be in Glasgow with others opening in Edinburgh, Livingston, Haddington and Stewarton. The discount supermarket's new £25mln storage and chill facility in Bathgate is also expected to be fully operational by the end of April. Aldi said that along with the new store openings, this would create 200 jobs. Stewarton is the only area out of the new locations that did not previously have an Aldi. The total number of staff employed by the retailer in Scotland is expected to reach 2,800 by the end of 2020.

UK: Co-op to "GRO" online
Co-op has revealed major online expansion plans as it dishes up more same-day delivery services in towns and cities across the UK and, what’s believed to be, the biggest rollout of vegan products. The retailer has announced that in 2020 it will offer same-day online city-centre deliveries from 650 stores and take a bite out of the growing meat-free food market with an exclusive new brand, called GRO. It will be launched in-store in January and will be available at up to 6,000 Co-op and independent stores. The vegan range meets the growing demand for vegetarian and plant-based alternatives, as exclusive research from the Co-op’s Ethical Consumerism report reveals that the market has topped £1bln for the first time ever and has more than doubled in the last 20 years, up from £452mln in 1999. In just 12 months, Co-op’s findings reveal that vegetarian product sales have risen by over 12% and non-dairy milk alternatives have seen a 14% uplift.

Australia: Italian migrant turned supermarket mogul sees no retirement in sight
When Tony Bernardi stepped off the boat in Australia in 1955, the 17-year-old Italian had nothing but a few pounds in his pocket and some very big dreams. Today, the 81-year-old oversees a supermarket empire spanning six stores and employs 500 people. But for Mr Bernardi, success was a decades-long, uphill climb. He eventually opened his first supermarket in Forbes in 1969. Tony Benardi has reduced his working week from 80 hours to 40 and can still be seen sorting through fruit and vegetables at the entrance of his main supermarket in Forbes each day.

Germany: Shopping without packaging in Hamburg's first zero-waste store
Hamburg’s first unpackaged shop called Stückgut has been operating an entirely different concept successfully since 2016. Food, hygiene products and cleansing agents are sold entirely without packaging - as opposed to organic cucumbers wrapped in plastic, biscuits in plastic bags with additional foil and shampoo in plastic bottles. Package-free food and goods caters to the needs of shoppers keen to avoid mounds of plastic waste amid climate change. The products are offered loose, in dispensers or reusable containers. Customers bring their own containers e.g. glass bottles, screwtop jars, cloth bags or lunch boxes so that the packaging-free shopping concept actually works. The empty containers are weighed before being filled with flour or oil etc. The weight of the containers is deducted at the check-out so that customers pay only for the food.

Thai conglomerates in race to buy Tesco Asia
Two Thai billionaires are reportedly preparing bids for the Asian operations of UK grocery giant Tesco. Citing “people with knowledge of the matter”, Bloomberg has reported that Charoen Pokphand Group, owned by Dhanin Chearavanont, and the Chirathivat family-controlled Central Group are among a group of potential investors in discussions with Tesco over a potential buyout. The UK company announced early last month that it was conducting a review of the future of its Asian business after receiving ‘inbound interest’. Tesco operates 74 stores in Malaysia and about 2000 in Thailand under Tesco Lotus brand. The combined stores generated £286mln (US$375.8mln) operating profit in the year to last February.

Israel wanted to pay supermarkets to use more packaging; they declined
An Israeli government plan to pay supermarkets to drastically increase their use of plastic packaging was shelved this week after no supermarket chain applied for the grant. In August, Israel's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced it would award one supermarket chain a NIS 9.5mln (approximately $2.6mln) grant, as part of a pilot program that would see food retailers sell pre-packaged fresh produce. Most fresh produce in Israel is sold in bulk, allowing consumers to make exact selections and choose their preferred amount of packaging. According to the plan - which the ministry touted as a way to reduce food waste by sealing produce in plastic to protect it from damage - tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplants, zucchinis, apples, pears, bananas, peaches, nectarines, avocados, and mandarins, were to be sold pre-packed in packages available in two sizes.

Holland: Coop sees 19% growth in turnover in 2019
Coop Netherlands has reported turnover of €1.54bln, up 19% year-on-year, in its financial year 2019, compared to €1.26bln for the previous year. The retailer added 24 new stores to its network, taking its total store count to 314 by the end of 2019. It saw an 11% year-on-year increase in consumer turnover, amounting to €147mln, during the financial year. This growth is almost three times faster than the market, which according to Nielsen is growing at a rate of 4%, the retailer said.

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