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Fenix Group explores sale of a majority stake in operator of supermarket chain

Federal Public Service Economy to start an inquiry into Albert Heijn

Lidl Bulgaria to open 100th store
Discount chain Lidl Bulgaria, part of Germany's Lidl Stiftung & Co, said that it will open a new store in Sofia on January 12. This will be the company's 100th store in the country, Lidl Bulgaria said in a press release. The new store, which will spread on 1,892 sq m, of which 1,100 sq m is shopping area, will open about 20 jobs, Lidl Bulgaria told SeeNews. Lidl Bulgaria launched the construction of its 100th store in October of last year. The company is planning to open at least 5 new stores in 2020, most of which located in the larger cities on the Black Sea coast.
Source: seenews.com 

China: Hong Kong City’super owner explores majority stake sale
The Fenix Group is exploring the sale of a majority stake in the operator of high-end supermarket chain City’super, in a deal that could fetch $300mln to $400mln, people with knowledge of the matter said. The Hong Kong-based company is working with a financial adviser to gauge interest in its stake in City Super Group from potential buyers, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. City Super Group, founded in 1996, has 21 stores in Hong Kong, 7 in Shanghai and 7 in Taiwan across its 3 brands, according to its website. Its City’super groceries are in prominent Hong Kong locations like IFC Mall, just below two gleaming skyscrapers that house the offices of global banks like UBS Group AG.
Source: bloomberg.com 

Albert Heijn in trouble for Belgian promotion
The "buy one, get two free" promotion Albert Heijn has issued in Belgium, has caused the FPS Economy to start an inquiry into the Dutch retailer. Selling at a loss is illegal in Belgium. In the week containing New Year's Day 2020, the chain reprised its promotion saying that anyone buying a specific item on a specific day, could buy one and get three of the products specified. The Federal Public Service Economy has now said it will look into whether or not that huge discount means that those items were sold at a loss - which is illegal in Belgium. "As it is a similar action as last time, we will indeed launch another inquiry", spokesperson Chantal De Pauw told Belgian website BusinessAM.
Source: retaildetail.eu 

UK's Waitrose: positive Christmas LFLs
Waitrose & Partners' gross sales declined -1.3% in the 7 weeks to 4th January, reflecting store closures. However, the retailer achieved a 0.4% increase in like-for-like sales. Online grocery was a high point for the retailer over Christmas, boosting sales by 16.7%. Online orders in the week up to Christmas Day were up 23.4%, as well as increased basket sizes. Chairman of the Partnership Sir Charlie Mayfield commented: "we saw a good sales performance in Waitrose & Partners, despite a weak grocery market..." Mayfield also highlighted that operationally it was a strong performance over the period, in terms of availability, service, delivery and online. Gross sales in the department store division fell 2.3% compared to the same period last year, as well as -2.0% on a like-for-like basis. This contributed to a combined sales decline of -1.8% for the Partnership overall.
Source: retailanalysis.igd.com 

Holland: Takeaway shareholders approve Just Eat acquisition
Dutch food ordering company Takeaway.com said its shareholders had approved plans for the company’s proposed 5.9bln pound ($7.7bln) acquisition of British peer Just Eat PLC. In a statement, Takeaway said its plan for an all-share merger had been approved at an extraordinary meeting of shareholders in Amsterdam. Takeaway is vying with rival Prosus to buy Just Eat. Takeaway said on December 19 that it has assurances from 46% of Just Eat shareholders that they will tender their shares to its all-share offer, currently worth 879 pence. Prosus bid 800 pence in cash per Just Eat share. The tender period for both offers ends on January 10.
Source: reuters.com 

UK: M&S Food outperforms in Q3
In its latest trading update, for 13 weeks to 28 December, M&S has reported total group sales down 0.7%. But behind this the performance of its core UK business was stronger with like-for-like sale positive in the period; up 0.2%. Furthermore, the Food division proved the growth driver, with a market-beating +1.5% offsetting a 3.7% decline in its Clothing & Home sales. In the period when the Kantar grocery market measure recorded growth of just +0.2%, M&S Food achieved like-for-like sales of +1.4%. And the business has flagged that the two key trading weeks around Christmas saw the Food division trading particularly strongly; supported by improving volumes, with customers responding positively to a more competitive value proposition (targeted through the Re-Marks-able value campaign) and more relevant product innovation.
Source: retailanalysis.igd.com 

Walmart opened 134 stores in Mexico in 2019, biggest expansion in six years
Walmart last year launched its biggest expansion in Mexico since 2013, opening 134 new stores in its top foreign market and boosting its presence by nearly 5%, the retailer said. Walmart now runs 3,407 stores in Mexico, where it has more locations than in any other country outside the United States, its Mexican unit, Walmart de Mexico, said in a monthly report. Nearly all the new units belong to the Bodega Aurrera family of stores, including the small, no-frills Bodega Express that is cheaper and quicker to build than Walmart’s bigger formats.
Source: reuters.com 

US: Meijer's new store to open sans single-use bags
When Meijer's second smaller-format urban store opens January 29 in Royal Oak, Michigan, one grocery staple will be missing. Woodward Corner Market will not offer single-use plastic or paper bags at checkout, offering two alternative reusable - and 100% recyclable - plastic bags for purchase. These bags are third-party verified to be used up to 125 times before needing to be replaced. Customers are of course encouraged to bring their own reusable bags as well. "Meijer is committed to lessening our impact on the environment, and we saw an opportunity to reinforce that commitment by not offering traditional single-use plastic bags from day one at Woodward Corner Market", Store Manager Natalie Rubino said. "We understand this is not a common practice, but we believe this is the right move for this community and our customers".
Source: progressivegrocer.com 

US: Giant Food Stores to invest $114mln in PA in next 18 months
Giant Food Stores has announced big plans in Pennsylvania over the next 18 months, to the tune of a $114mln capital investment. These plans include a new ecommerce fulfillment center, two new stores and 35 remodels. “We’re doubling down on growth and innovation for our customers, building on the incredible momentum of 2019, and continuing to invest in our great commonwealth”, said Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant Food Stores. “The accelerated growth of Giant Direct has set the stage for additional investment opportunities that extend our ecommerce geographic reach. At the same time, our Giant Heirloom Market format has enabled us to reach an entirely new demographic in Philadelphia”.
Source: progressivegrocer.com 

US: Costco Wholesale Corporation reports December sales results
Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco” or the “Company”) reported net sales of $17.04bln for the retail month of December, the five weeks ended January 5, 2020, an increase of 10.5% from $15.42bln last year. For the 18 weeks ended January 5, 2020, the Company reported net sales of $56.99bln, an increase of 7.5% from $52.99bln during the similar period last year.
Source: globenewswire.com 

US: Court denies The Fresh Market ex-general counsel’s bid to dismiss shareholder suit
A Delaware Chancery Court judge has found credible the allegations in a shareholder suit that Scott Duggan, former general counsel and SVP of The Fresh Market Inc., was grossly negligent in drafting and certifying a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing in connection with the grocer’s sale to New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management, according to a published report on Law.com. According to the suit, the filing omitted that Ray Berry, the former chairman and CEO of The Fresh Market, lied to the company’s board about having come to a secret agreement with Apollo in advance of the 2016 merger, that Berry had expressed a “clear preference” for Apollo and didn't want to consider other firms' offers, that he indicated he might sell his shares in the The Fresh Market if it didn’t go through with the sale to Apollo, and the “depth and breadth” of shareholder pressure to sell.
Source: progressivegrocer.com 

US: Lowes Foods adds FlyBuy tech for faster grocery pickup
Lowes Foods has partnered with location technology company Radius Networks to roll out FlyBuy Pickup across all of its stores. FlyBuy uses machine-learning technology to accurately calculate a customer’s arrival time and on-premise location for curbside and in-store pickup programs. This solution will help Lowes Foods be more efficient with its click and collect grocery pickup service, Lowes Foods to Go. “The Radius Networks FlyBuy platform gives our hosts a new level of visibility into a guest’s journey to our store, which is significantly decreasing wait times at pickup”, said Chad Petersen, senior director of ecommerce at Lowes Foods. “In addition to the time-saving benefits for our guests, the geolocation data provided by FlyBuy helps our personal shoppers spend their time more efficiently inside the store. This has a dramatic impact on our service levels and efficiency while aiding in our continued focus toward developing a more proactive operation overall”.
Source: progressivegrocer.com 


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