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Metcash urged by analysts to divest its massive food distribution arm

Lidl: First ‘net zero’ emissions store in the Netherlands

India: Flipkart piloting fresh fruits & vegetables delivery in Hyderabad
Walmart-owned e-commerce company Flipkart has started a pilot project in Hyderabad to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables in partnership with vendors on its marketplace, 3 people directly aware of the matter told ET. This has come at a time when the homegrown e-tailer waits for internal processes to be complete before it applies for a food retail permit via a newly registered entity which will enable Flipkart to eventually own food inventory as per government’s FDI policy, these people said. “Even though Flipkart (in the past) has steered away from venturing into the fresh fruits and vegetables space directly given the complexity of the business’ supply chain and regulatory compliances, with the entrance and aggressive push by its largest competitors, and Reliance Industries, it is no longer a segment that can be ignored”, a top executive at the company said requesting anonymity.

Trade Minister of Trinidad and Tobago tells supermarkets: Lower prices mean more customers
Keeping profit margins down will attract greater sales from consumers. That was the advice from Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon in response to an advisory by the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) advising of impending increases in food prices. Speaking at a media conference at the Ministry’s Port-of-Spain office, the Minister said she was unaware of any general increase in grocery items.

Belgium: E-commerce platform for small businesses Storesquare closes
Storesquare, an e-commerce platform for small businesses, will not survive next February. Belgian owner Roularta says ambitions were not met, nor was the break-even point. Founded in 2014, Storesquare's aim was to unite local small retailers and SMEs on one platform that would have to compete with major online players like and Zalando. However, the platform was unable to reach a sufficient audience, Belgian newspaper De Tijd writes. Moreover (or, as a result?), profits for the participating retailers were lower than in the physical stores.

Holland: Jumbo to extend meal delivery service to Utrecht and Amsterdam
Dutch retailer Jumbo has announced plans to extend its meal delivery service to Utrecht and Amsterdam in February of this year. The project will be executed in association with the meal order site Customers will have the option to order freshly prepared meals and other food items to their homes or offices. They will also have the choice of picking up their orders from the Jumbo City store in Stationsplein in Eindhoven.

Casino cuts 2019 French profit goal as strikes weigh on fourth quarter
French retailer Casino, which is closing unprofitable stores at home and selling other assets to cut debt, slashed its forecast for 2019 French operating profit growth due to the impact of transport strikes in the fourth quarter. In France, where Casino makes 53% of its revenue, sales were flat during the fourth quarter, in an environment marked by social unrest and a decline in consumer confidence in December. Finance chief David Lubek said the French transport strikes cost Casino about 80mln euros in lost revenue in December. Trading profit from France, excluding real estate activities, was expected to grow 5% in 2019 instead of 10% the retailer previously forecast.

UK: SPAR delivers positive Christmas sales
SPAR UK has reported an increase of 2.6% in like-for-like sales for the 4 weeks to 29 December 2019. As well as a 2.6% increase over the period, SPAR UK announced a 7% increase in like-for-like sales during the final week. The retailer said this was due to its focus on fresh and availability. Louise Hoste, managing director of SPAR UK, commented: “Our performance over the festive period shows that we are responding well to shopper demands, with excellent marketing initiatives, and communication of the role our stores play in local communities. This has driven sales and the results prove that convenience is still key for shoppers at Christmas. We are delighted to see this good performance continuing into January and by having stores at the heart of the community, our independent retailers are providing customers with a high quality individual service”.

Holland: Lidl opens net zero emissions store
German retailer Lidl has opened its first ‘net zero’ emissions shop in the Netherlands, which is supplied with a solar system from BayWa RE. The first official ‘Lidl Zero’ store, in Woerden, opened for business recently. Lidl Netherlands’ Arnold Baas said: “A key objective of ‘Lidl Zero’ is that this pilot store benefits from a solar system, producing 100% of the store’s energy demand. BayWa RE power solutions managing director Christof Thannbichler said: “To guarantee enough solar power to cover the store’s energy needs throughout the year, we carried out an extensive feasibility study including shade analysis, as the premises of the store boarders on a wooded area. Taking in all the data and criteria for this specific location, our expert team then designed a 290kW system on the store roof, and a separate car port structure to house an additional 257kW system. Furthermore, a DC fast charging point for electric cars has been set up on site as well”.

Australia: Metcash urged to sell food arm as majors ramp up investment
Struggling listed retailer Metcash has been urged by analysts to divest its massive food distribution arm as a way to address the "structural impediments" facing the business. In a note to clients, Credit Suisse analyst Grant Saligari proposed the "left-field" solution as a potential win-win for both retailers and shareholders, suggesting it would not only de-risk the business for investors but improve margins for its retail partners. The $2.3bln retailer has been forced to write down its food division by more than $500mln in the past 12 months due to the loss of major supply contracts, the most recent of which being an $800mln contract with convenience chain 7-Eleven.

Amazon promises 1mln new jobs in India amid tensions with government Inc said it planned to create 1mln jobs in India by 2025, a day after the country’s trade minister said the e-commerce giant’s recently unveiled $1bln investment in the country was no big favor. Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart are facing mounting criticism from India’s brick-and-mortar retailers, which accuse the U.S. giants of violating Indian law by racking up billions of dollars in losses to fund deep discounts and discriminating against small sellers. The companies deny the allegations. Amazon said it would create new jobs in India through investments in infrastructure, technology and logistics.

UK: Booths reports Christmas sales growth
Northern-based supermarket Booths has reported an increase in Christmas sales, according to reports from Retail Week. Booths announced an increase in sales of 3.5% in the three weeks to 5th January. Like-for-like sales saw a 2.7% increase. The positive result was driven by the retailer's private label range. Booths’ own-brand pigs in blankets and stuffing balls proved particularly popular, with sales up 25% and 85% respectively. Sales of Booths’ annual Christmas Book also increased by 6.8%. Christmas pre-ordering was so popular the retailer has now extended this service year round.

Google acquires Irish retail tech startup Pointy
Google has acquired Pointy, a startup that helps physical retailers with showcasing their products online. Pointy has been a partner of Google for years, for the search engine’s “See what’s in store” section that is shown on business profiles on Google search. With Pointy, retailers can either plug a small box into their barcode scanner or install an app on their POS system, after which the products they sell are directly shown in the “See what’s in store” section that surfaces when a user is looking for a specific retailer.

Brazil: GPA gross sales jump 24% in fourth-quarter after incorporating Colombian ops
Brazilian supermarket chain GPA SA reported a 24% rise in fourth-quarter gross sales after completing a reorganization that allowed it to book revenue from Colombia’s Almacenes Exito SA. The group reported gross sales of 18.9bln reais ($4.56bln) after including Exito’s results. GPA successfully concluded a tender offer to acquire 96.57% of Exito shares on November 27 as part of broader efforts by parent company Casino Guichard Perrachon SA to simplify its shareholding structure in Latin America. “In the fourth quarter, only one month of [Exito’s] operation was factored in, with a contribution of 2.4bln reais in gross sales, confirming a positive trend seen in recent quarters”, GPA said in a securities filing.

US: Kroger Delta division, UFCW forge new labor agreement
The Kroger Co.’s Delta division and United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1529, based in Cordova, Tennessee, have come to new labor agreement, according to a published report. The agreement covers more than 9,000 workers in west Tennessee, Mississippi, and northwest Arkansas, the Memphis Business Journal reported, adding that higher starting wages and periodic raises were included in it. Effective immediately, new full- and part-time employees now earn about $10 an hour, up from $7.65 and $7.35, respectively, with a yearly wage hike and health care benefits.

US: Asian grocer iFresh re-energizes expansion with new store
Asian-American supermarket chain and online grocer iFresh is opening its first location in North Miami, Florida, on February 7, the company's 10th store along the East Coast. The 30,000-square-foot store has been under construction for almost four years. "This is by far the largest investment in one supermarket that we have made, with over US $8mln invested in total", said Long Deng, CEO and chairman of iFresh. "We are committed to creating a multipurpose destination to elevate the shopping experience for our customers where shopping, dining and leisure will be provided, with an array of quality choices”.

US: SpartanNash adds location technology to Fast Lane
SpartanNash has added GPS location technology to its existing click-and-collect program, Fast Lane, according to a press release. The new feature enhances transparency for shoppers and gives stores an accurate arrival time for customers coming to pick up their grocery orders. Customers will receive an alert when their order is ready and can then opt to share their location with he company. Stores will track the shoppers' progress and aim to have their order ready by the time they arrive. The GPS tracking feature is available at Family Fare, Forest Hills Foods, VG’s and Dan’s Supermarkets. The Fast Lane service is available at 68 stores across six states.

US: NGA, ROFDA merger falls through
The merger of the National Grocers Association (NGA) and Retailer Owned Foods Distributors & Associates (ROFDA) - originally announced in November and set to go into effect January 1 - did not take place as planned. “In light of a number of unexpected circumstances, NGA and ROFDA have decided to pause the planned acquisition of ROFDA by NGA", said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara and ROFDA Chairman David Bullard in a joint statement to Progressive Grocer. "While our two organizations continue to share a strong and collaborative relationship, it’s clear now is not the time to proceed as originally planned.”

US: Northgate González Market celebrates its 40th anniversary becoming California's premier Latino-themed grocery store
From humble beginnings of converting a small liquor store into a grocery market in 1980, a Mexican immigrant family turned their dream into an American success story. 40 years later, Northgate González Market marks a major anniversary milestone this month with 41 stores and becoming the leading Latino-themed grocery chain in Southern California. The company offers its customers a full-service supermarket with a large meat department, bakery, tortilleria, fresh produce, and prepared foods in addition to a sizeable section of domestic and imported Latin American grocery goods to provide a Mexican homeland experience. Northgate González Market is best known for many of its 40-year old signature items like marinated carne asada, chorizo, and their famous carnitas.

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