Under fire in India, Amazon offers small business owners $1bln olive branch
Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos said his company will invest $1bln to bring small businesses online in India, reaching out to some of his fiercest critics in a goodwill visit that saw him donning traditional Indian attire and fly a kite with children. Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart have been hit with a barrage of criticism from India’s brick-and-mortar retailers who accuse the U.S. giants of violating Indian law with deep discounts and discriminating against small sellers by promoting select big ones. The companies deny the allegations. Just this week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) launched an anti-trust probe to look into those allegations.
Tesco faces Thai regulatory threat to $10bln deal
The sale of Tesco's prized Asian assets - which are potentially valued at up to $10bln (£7.7bln) - may be at risk because of Thailand's competition regulations. The supermarket chain has nearly 2,000 outlets in Thailand and Malaysia that three Thai groups are hoping to buy. However, the successful bidder could face regulatory hurdles from Thailand's new anti-competition body. The country's fair trade commission said the winning bidder could own more than half of the sector in the country.
Vietnam: Masan Group to shutter hundreds of Vinmart stores
Vietnam consumer-goods company Masan Group says it plans to shut down hundreds of VinMart and VinMart+ stores it purchased from VinGroup last year. The company said they will open 10-30 new Vinmart supermarkets and close 100-300 Vinmart+ stores this year to focus on improving profitability of existing locations instead of following the program of massive expansion followed by the previous owner. Masan will shift its focus to supermarkets of less than 1500 sqm that bring the best revenue, cut inefficient supermarkets in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Can Tho and expand into tier 2 cities and within Vincom shopping centres.
Sweden: ICA sees sales up 2.9% in December
Swedish retailer ICA has posted a 2.9% increase in sales in December 2019, compared to the same period the previous year. Like-for-like sales at the business were up 2.7% for the month. In terms of its main banners, the group's Maxi ICA Stormarknad business posted a 3.9% increase in sales (+3.3% on a like-for-like basis), while ICA Kvantum was up 3.4% (+2.0% on a like-for-like basis). Elsewhere, its ICA Supermarket division posted a 1.2% increase in sales (+2.5% on a like-for-like basis) and ICA Nära, the group's convenience division, posted a 2.9% increase in sales (+2.8% like-for-like).
'Customers will just walk out': Coles exec flags 'checkout-free' shopping in Australia within 10 years
A leading executive at Coles says Australian supermarkets could have checkout-free shopping in 10 years as innovation in retail technology and an increasing focus on costs quickly make the traditional purchasing experience redundant. The $20bln ASX-listed retail giant's head of commercial and express, Greg Davis, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that customers would later this decade be able to shop and leave the supermarket without going through a checkout. "I have no doubt in the next 10 years, customers will be able to take the product off the shelf, put it in their basket, walk out and have it all paid for," Mr Davis said.
Auchan to cut 517 jobs in France
Retailer Auchan said it planned to cut 517 jobs in France as part of efforts to reduce costs to cope with fierce competition from the likes of Amazon as well as changing shopping habits. Unlisted Auchan Retail, the retail arm of the Auchan group, said the plan, which also includes a greater focus on e-commerce and local products, involves the voluntary departure of head office and support services staff in France. Auchan employs about 75,000 people in France. “Volume retailing, born in the 60s and 70s to make the broadest offer accessible to the greatest number of people is now being shaken up by new entrants,” Auchan said in a statement. The company said the advent of online as well as an emphasis on healthy and sustainable eating had had an impact on the food retail business in general.
South Africa: Woolworths appoints Roy Bagattini CEO
South African supermarket chain Woolworths Holdings named Levi Strauss’ Americas President Roy Bagattini to the top job, after Chief Executive Officer Ian Moir steps down in February. Woolworth shares jumped 9% following the announcement. Moir served at the helm of Woolworths for nearly a decade and the company did not give a reason for his departure. “Roy has extensive operational, management and turnaround experience in global consumer and retail markets, which will prove invaluable as we continue to navigate the structural changes taking place in the retail sector and the challenges particular to our group," Woolworths Chairman Hubert Brody said.
Kennedy Wilson completes $81mln sale of ten-property Spanish retail portfolio
Global real estate investment company Kennedy Wilson has completed the sale of ten wholly owned Spanish retail properties for $81mln to Barings, a global investment management firm. The sales generated approximately $33mln of net cash proceeds to Kennedy Wilson, which the company expects to recycle into other European investment opportunities and to fund existing development projects. The combined sales will result in approximately $10mln of gains to Kennedy Wilson. The portfolio is fully leased to Carrefour, a grocery chain that is Europe’s largest retailer and Spain’s second largest supermarket. The portfolio includes 418,000 square feet, with most of the rental income concentrated in prime locations in Madrid and Barcelona.
UK: Amazon says it is following order that bars Deliveroo loan
Amazon.com Inc said it was complying with a regulatory order that has effectively barred it from lending money to UK food delivery group Deliveroo since June, rebutting a Bloomberg report that Amazon had made such an offer. Amazon had led an investment round in Deliveroo in May last year, but Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month launched a second phase of an investigation into the deal. An Amazon spokeswoman told Reuters the company was complying with a June order from CMA. The order “requires the parties to operate separately and restricts the parties from entering into non-ordinary course agreements like a loan”, the spokeswoman said. The London-based delivery company declined to comment on the news.
US: Walmart is bringing robots to 650 more stores as the retailer ramps up automation in stores nationwide
Walmart is moving forward with automation in more stores nationwide. The superstore is adding shelf-scanning robots to 650 stores by the summer, the retailer confirmed to Business Insider. The robots are designed by the San Francisco-based Bossa Nova Robotics Inc. and made to scan items on shelves to assist with price accuracy and restocking. The robots are already present in 350 stores. The six-foot-tall devices contain 15 cameras each, which scan aisles and shelves and send alerts to employees in real time.
Instacart rolls out new grocery pickup experience for customers across North America
Instacart, a North American leader in online grocery, announced a new Instacart Pickup product and the appointment of Instacart veteran Sarah Mastrorocco to the newly-created role of General Manager, Instacart Pickup. The announcement comes following a year of significant pickup growth for Instacart, which tripled the number of states and doubled the number of grocery partners offering its grocery pickup product in 2019. Instacart powers pickup for more than 50 grocery partners, including Food Lion, Gelson's, Publix, Price Chopper, Schnucks, Shop 'n Save, The Fresh Market, Wegmans and more, across more than 30 states. The company expects to expand the Instacart Pickup offering to all 50 states by the end of 2020.
US: Weis Markets scores with Toshiba self-checkout systems
Weis Markets Inc. believes that it has considerably enhanced its customer experience by offering Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions’ self-checkout systems, which enable shoppers to complete transactions in a more timely and efficient manner. Toshiba’s blend of cash and cashless systems give shoppers a choice of checkout options, allowing the Mid-Atlantic food retailer to customize the checkout experience for its customers and encourage a frictionless experience at Weis Markets. “The inclusion of Toshiba self-checkout systems across our stores improves our overall customer experience,” affirmed Weis Markets CIO Greg Zeh. “Beyond affording our clientele a more personal checkout, Toshiba’s technology and operational expertise have helped improve throughput and overall store performance.”
US: SpartanNash ups access to fresh produce with Double Up Food Bucks
SpartanNash is once again offering the Double Up Food Bucks fresh produce incentive program at 46 stores in its home state of Michigan. Since 2014, the company has been the only major grocery retail chain in Michigan with various stores taking part in the initiative. Along with the 43 Family Fare, VG’s and ValuLand stores already participating in Double Up, SpartanNash has rolled out the program to three additional stores in 2020, offering improved access to fresh produce to shoppers in Cheboygan, Coldwater and Howell, Michigan.
US: Wegmans kicks off 2020 with a digital makeover
Wegmans Food Markets is starting the new year with a techie bang by revamping its website and app. The Rochester, New York-based grocer sent an email to shoppers saying that the company is "putting the finishing touches" on an updated and redesigned wegmans.com and Wegmans App. Some of the changes coming to the website and app include: Shoppers will be able to see digital coupons as they build a personalized shopping list; Shoppers will get more personalized search results on both platforms; Both wegmans.com and the retailer's app will offer options for kerbside pickup or delivery.
US: Stop & Shop installing Bloom Energy AlwaysON Microgrids in 40 stores
The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. will power 40 of its stores in Massachusetts and New York with Bloom Energy servers, with the goal of providing clean, reliable, 24/7 electricity in an AlwaysON Microgrid configuration that will keep energy on at the locations even during grid power outages caused by bad weather or other unforeseen events. The solution is expected to slash Stop & Shop’s carbon emissions by more than 15,000 metric tons annually, the equivalent of removing about 3,200 cars from the road. Bloom also virtually eliminates smog-forming pollution and particulate emissions, according to the San Jose, California-based company.