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Italian FMCG sales increased by 1.4% in value in 2019 compared to 2018

Asda: 2019 Gender Pay Report

Japan's Seven & i Holdings: total sales flat at 0.1%
Seven & i recorded a 0.1% increase in total group sales to JPY9,019.3bln (US$82.4bln), with operating profit rising 4.9% to JPY319bln (US2.9mln) year-on-year (yoy). Revenue from domestic convenience store operations increased 1.2% to JPY733.7bln (US6.7bln) yoy. 7-Eleven Japan's key growth measure, existing store sales, recovered slightly (compared to H1), but fell 0.1% yoy. The number of customers fell 2.5%, but average spending per customer increased by 2.5%. The retailer’s main supermarket banner, Ito-Yokado, posted decline in merchandise, lifestyle and foods sales. This had a significant impact on consolidated superstore revenue, which fell 2.8% to JPY1,366.2bn (US$12.4bn) yoy.

Coviran expands presence in Portugal
Spanish cooperative Coviran opened four new supermarkets in Portugal between September and December 2019, giving it a year-end total of 283 outlets in the country. The new stores are located in Santarém, Porto, Setúbal, and Lisbon. Presently, the Spanish company is present in 18 districts of Portugal and two autonomous island regions of Azores and Madeira. It has a 0.88% market share of the Portuguese retail sector.

UK: Midcounties Co-op reports Christmas sales growth
Co-op Midcounties, the UK’s largest independent co-operative, grew sales in its food stores by 3.3% in December on a like-for-like basis. It put the growth down to an enhanced seasonal range that included a record number of locally sourced products. It said Christmas Eve was its busiest day ever. The society, which operates 180 convenience stores and 45 larger supermarkets in central and southern England, claims to have outperformed the wider grocery market, which grew by just 0.2% in the 12 weeks to the end of 2019, according to figures from analyst Kantar. Chief retail officer Rupert Newman said: “Our excellent seasonal performance is a credit to the hard work of our colleagues and suppliers”.

China: CR Vanguard’s latest digital format
CR Vanguard is expanding its new digital format, Vanguard MART, in China. Shoppers at Vanguard MART have multiple ways to make payment, e.g. through a traditional counter or self-checkout. The latter allows mobile payment, facial recognition, QR code purchase and self-service ordering. The store features electronic shelf labels allowing staff members to adjust the prices by scanning the code, as well as monitor prices centrally to improve efficiency. To integrate offline and online, the retailer has also developed a Vanguard MART app, which has between 3,000 and 5,000 SKUs on sale. The platform allows users to order online and get their products delivered to home within 1 hour if they live within 3km. Furthermore, the store cooperates with Meituan, and JDDJ on-demand platforms to offer shoppers convenience.

Major Irish retailers all see sales rise over Christmas: Kantar
Ireland's biggest retailers all saw sales grow in the 12 weeks to 29 December, according to the latest market share figures from Kantar, with Dunnes Stores retaining its position as the country's top grocer. Dunnes Stores now holds 23.6% of the market, the data shows, following a 4.1% increase in sales in the 12-week period. Second-placed Tesco saw a marginal increase in sales (+0.1%) to sit on 22.0% market share, while SuperValu holds 21.8% market share after a 1.4% increase in sales. Discounter Aldi was the strongest performing retailer over Christmas, seeing sales rise 6.3% to put it on 11.3% market share, while Lidl hit 10.9%, it's highest-ever festive market share.

UK: Asda publishes its 2019 Gender Pay Report
Supermarket Asda has published its 2019 Gender Pay figures, in line with the requirement for large companies to report annually. In a report submitted to the Government’s Gender Pay website, Asda has stated that, for the 2019 Gender Pay Gap reporting period: The median pay difference (the Office for National Statistics’ preferred measure) between all relevant men and women employed by Asda is 6.5%. This is a reduction of 1.1% compared to 2018 and 10.8% lower than the national average of 17.3% for full and part-time workers. Since 2017, the median pay gap at Asda has dropped by 2.4%. The mean pay difference between all relevant men and women employed by Asda is 11.1%. This is a reduction of 1.3% compared to 2017 and 5.1% lower than the national average of 16.2%. 84% of Asda’s colleagues work in hourly paid roles in stores, which have set hourly rates of pay. The median gender pay gap within that population, based on those rates alone, is 0%. 36% of those occupying senior roles at Asda are women, whereas 74% of those in junior roles are women.

FMCG sales up 1.4% in Italy in 2019, study finds
Italian FMCG sales increased by 1.4% in value in 2019 compared to 2018, according to the latest Nielsen Total Store survey estimates. Nielsen analysed the performance of food, including beverages and pet care, home and personal care, and non-food departments. The food and beverage and pet segments closed the year with 1.8% growth, while sales in the home care, personal care, and non-food departments were down by 0.3%. The study also revealed that in southern Italy, the retail space occupied by hypermarkets and independent retailers declined by 32,000 square metres in 2019, while discount stores reported a 38,000 square metres increase in selling space. The discount channel reported a positive performance in departments dedicated to fresh produce. Presently, fresh products represent 88% of the growth in the channel, including delicatessen, cheese, fruit and vegetables, and meat.

South Africa: Massmart could cut 1,440 jobs
South Africa’s Massmart Holdings could cut up to 1,440 jobs under a plan to close some stores, the retailer said as it struggles to grow sales in a tough economy. Massmart, majority owned by U.S. retail giant Walmart, swung to its first half-year trading loss in two decades last August, as low growth, high unemployment and a rising cost of living hurt South Africans’ spending power. The retailer said in a statement it had started consultations with unions and other stakeholders around the closure of up to 34 stores, following a review that identified a number of outlets that were underperforming.

Japan: Retail giant Aeon appoints first new president in 23 years
Japanese retail giant Aeon Co. has promoted Executive Vice President Akio Yoshida to president effective March 1, the first change in the post in 23 years. Yoshida, 59, will succeed Motoya Okada, 68, a member of the founding family of the retailer, who will become chairman and retain his position as CEO. Aeon aims to strengthen its online sales and other digital operations under the new top management in the face of stiff competition with rivals’ convenience stores and other specialty stores such as Fast Retailing Co.

Spain: Supermarket chain Mercadona invests in online commitment
Supermarket chain Mercadona continues to invest in refurbishing many of its busiest stores and also expanding its online delivery service. Currently the bulk of delivered orders are sent out from individual stores but in May 2018 it built the first of its dedicated warehouse operations (called hives) starting in Valencia and then expanding to Barcelona and now it is completing a new hive to serve Madrid. This is a long term investment which currently generates more than €2mln of sales each month and next targets are Alicante and Sevilla.

US: Albertsons prepares for an IPO, again
Albertsons Cos. is preparing to go public again, said people familiar with the matter, as the grocery giant's backers look to tap into a strong stock market to cash out of an investment that dates back nearly 15 years. The company, which also owns the Safeway and Jewel-Osco chains, expects to decide in coming weeks whether to proceed with an initial public offering that could value it around $19bln, one of the people said. Albertsons has been updating IPO documents that have been filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the people said. An IPO of Albertsons, which had about $61bln in sales for the year ended February 2019, would be one of the biggest tests of the IPO market this year. It would pave the road of an exit for private-equity investor Cerberus Capital Management LP, which cobbled together the company through a series of deals dating back to 2006. Cerberus is resurrecting IPO discussions in hopes of capitalizing on the grocer's improved performance, strong markets and positive economic indicators, one of the people said.

US: Nielsen buys Precima to expand retail, CPG analytics
Nielsen Global Connect acquired Precima, a retail strategy analytics startup, from Alliance Data Systems for an undisclosed amount. The deal expands the media and ratings company's division that focuses on retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG), according to an announcement shared with Marketing Dive. Precima has a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that relies on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tech to help retailers improve planning and operations for marketing, promotions, pricing, inventory and collaborations with suppliers. As a result of the deal, Nielsen Global Connect clients will have access to Precima's services such as consumer loyalty and retailer analytics software.​ Precima's employees will join Nielsen Global Connect once the deal closes. The company will be referred to as "Precima, a Nielsen company", in its branding. Nielsen Global Connect is being spun off from Nielsen as a separate public company in a transaction that's expected to be completed this year, per an earlier announcement.

US: Safeway, Save Mart, Food Maxx offer bitcoin purchasing via Coinme
Blockchain financial technology company Coinme has entered the greater Sacramento area with more than 100 Bitcoin purchase points at Coinstar kiosks in Safeway (an Albertsons banner), Save Mart and Food Maxx supermarkets. The kiosks make up the largest network for purchasing Bitocoin for consumers in the area, according to Coinme. “Sacramento promises to be one of Coinme’s strongest markets for Bitcoin in the United States", said Neil Bergquist, co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based Coinme. “It’s very gratifying to meet the growing customer demand through our relationship with Coinstar, and we couldn't ask for a better partner to help people access and utilize the power of digital currency”.

US: Albertsons to close 5 Randalls stores in Texas
Albertsons Cos. is shutting five Randalls grocery stores in the Houston area, according to the Houston Chronicle. The retailer will shutter its Randalls stores at 4540 Kingwood Drive and 600 Kingwood Drive in Kingwood; 2250 Buckthorne Place in Spring; 4775 West Panther Creek in The Woodlands; and 2323 Clear Lake City Boulevard in Houston. Liquidation sales will start January 15, and the stores are expected to close February 15. The closures will impact 365 employees.

Amazon to seek order to block Microsoft from working on DoD's JEDI contract Inc will ask a judge to temporarily block Microsoft Corp from working on a $10bln cloud contract from the Pentagon, a court filing showed. Amazon, which was seen as a favorite for the contract, plans to file a motion for a temporary restraining order on January 24 and a federal court will issue its decision on February 11, according to the filing. The e-commerce giant has blamed U.S. President Donald Trump of exerting “improper pressure” and bias that led the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to award the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract to Microsoft. The Department of Defense has stood by its decision, with its Secretary Mark Esper rejecting any suggestion of bias and saying the decision was conducted freely and fairly, without any outside influence.

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