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More than 400 employees have launched an equal pay claim against Co-op

Countdown: Plastic-free trial in produce department

Amethis set to buy 30% stake in Kenyan retailer Naivas
France’s Amethis is close to concluding the purchase of a stake in Kenyan general retailer Naivas, the investment fund told Reuters, entering a sector where the collapse of one of the major players in recent years has left a gap. Neither side disclosed details of the deal, citing ongoing regulatory scrutiny, but a Nairobi-based source with knowledge of the transaction and local media reports said Amethis will acquire a 30% stake in the Kenyan firm. “Amethis first reached out to Naivas over a year ago, and will be the first external investor in Naivas”, the retailer said in a statement seen by Reuters. Naivas, which was founded 3 decades ago and has 60 stores across Kenya, became one of the top 3 retailers after the collapse of Nakumatt, a local supermarket chain that had dominated the sector.

SPAR Belgium reopens three supermarkets
SPAR Belgium Partner, Colruyt Group, has reopened three SPAR Supermarkets in different regions of the country. To cater to shoppers’ demand for freshness and quality, the renovated stores each feature expanded fresh sections and additional services such as wine recommendations and food waste reduction initiatives. In the reopened SPAR Supermarket in Koksijde-Bad, strong emphasis is placed on the fresh produce departments to create a local market feeling. With expanded and modernised fresh food departments, the reopened SPAR Supermarket in the Flemish city of Diest now delivers an even better shopping experience. Following a thorough makeover, SPAR Kalken now features a new restaurant with 60 seats, as well as expanded and improved fresh departments.

New Zealand: Countdown introduces plastic-free trial in produce department
Countdown's produce department is going plastic-free, starting with a 10-week trial. As of February 14, three Countdown stores in Manukau, Ponsonby and Orewa will begin the plastic-free experiment. Some product lines, such as plastic-wrapped corn, will be eliminated completely. 68% of others will be left loose or packaged with paper. "So bags of potatoes, the grapes, the apples, cherry tomatoes, none of that will be in plastic anymore, we're going unwrapped", Countdown's Kiri Hannifin told Newshub.

China: Unilever and JD Logistics to provide sustainable solutions in the supply chain
Unilever and JD Logistics have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pursue sustainable solutions in the supply chain. The MoU, which creates a framework to identify opportunities for innovative and sustainable growth, builds on Unilever’s existing relationship with Chinese e-commerce retailer, as both organisations have sealed a deal, back in 2018, which sees Unilever making use of JD’s network to move its products between warehouses in China. Sustainable solutions being explored include plastic collection and recycling, 5G delivery solutions for global customers, and the development of less carbon intense transportation. According to both firms, the agreement is based on The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan - along with its pledge on plastic reduction - and’s sustainability strategy Green Stream Initiative ‘Planet, People, Profit’.

UK: Co-op faces equal pay claims from shop workers
More than 400 employees have launched an equal pay claim against the Co-op supermarket chain in the latest retail pay battle. The Co-op shop workers, mostly women, say they are being underpaid compared with warehouse workers, who are mostly men. The claim comes after similar actions against Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. The Co-op said in a statement: "We have received a small number of equal pay claims. Unlike some of the bigger food retailers, we do not have large scale multiple claims. It wouldn't be appropriate to comment on individual claims, but we will be defending these claims and are confident that our reward practices are fair."

BNP Paribas, other French firms to open innovation hub for Brazil startups
France’s BNP Paribas is joining forces with 3 other major French companies to set up an innovation center in Brazil to foster startups accelerating digital transformation and help the bigger firms become more efficient. Based in Brazil’s richest city, Sao Paulo, the 1,000 square-meter hub, called La Fabrique, will be shared with Carrefour Brasil SA, pre-paid meal vouchers and card provider Edenred and financial transaction systems developer Ingenico Group. “We are looking for startups that may help BNP gain efficiency”, BNP Paribas Chief Executive and country head Sandrine Ferdane told Reuters in an interview. “As lower interest rates globally reduce margins, efficiency is key”.

US: Walmart-owned Hayneedle announces it is laying off 200 from Omaha headquarters
Online retailer Hayneedle informed some 200 workers at its Omaha headquarters that they will soon be out of a job there. Hayneedle’s parent company, Walmart, told the Omaha World-Herald that about 100 local workers will remain employed and will be based at the Sarpy County call center. Those who are being laid off will get at least a 60-day notice and will be eligible to apply for other jobs within the Walmart organization. A written statement from Walmart said the layoffs follow a decision to integrate the Hayneedle business and select functions within The website will continue to operate, offering specialty home items, while will include access to Hayneedle’s private brands: Belham Living and Coral Coast, the statement said.

Canada: Sobeys expands Rachelle Béry to Ontario and B.C.
Sobeys is introducing its natural and organic focused Rachelle Béry banner to Ontario and B.C. Already well-known in Quebec, on January 30 Rachelle Béry boutiques will be opened inside a Sobeys in St. Catharines, Ontario (343 Glendale) and inside a Safeway in Vancouver (2733 West Broadway). Sobeys would not disclose future expansion plans outside Quebec. “We’ll be watching customer response to the first couple of locations closely”, said Thompson. “We’re excited about the potential that this department has, this brand has, outside of the Province of Quebec”.

7-Eleven surpasses 70,000 stores globally
7-Eleven has reached another major milestone, surpassing 70,000 stores globally. Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven Inc.’s President and CEO, said: "Over 93 years we've grown from a small local ice house in Oak Cliff, Texas, to a global and iconic brand that is 70,000 stores strong […] that strength is due to a relentless focus on meeting the needs of our customers. We'll continue to place our customers at the forefront of all we do”. Through mainly area franchise agreements, 7-Eleven operates in 17 markets. It has expanded through a combination of organic growth, licensees and acquisitions. 7-Eleven will enter India this year via Future Group. The convenience chain is also set to return to Indonesia, after exiting the market in 2017.

US: Fry's Food Stores founder dies at 92
Charles Fry, co-founder of Fry's Food Stores, passed away on January 20, at the age of 92. Fry started the business in 1955 in Richmond, California, with his brother Donald, who passed away in 2006. Fry brought the chain to Arizona in 1960. In 1972, Fry’s Food Stores merged with Dillons, and Fry became a member of the board of directors. Two and a half years later, he returned as president of all of Fry’s. He retired in 1983, the same year that Dillions merged with Kroger. "The Kroger Co. and Fry’s Food Stores [are] saddened to hear of the recent passing of Charles “Chuck” Fry on January 20, 2020", said Mike Donnelly, Kroger's EVP and COO. "Chuck was a visionary in the grocery industry and an inspiration to those around him".

US: Meijer taps into the gig economy
Meijer Inc. is deploying the Hyer platform/app across its 246-store footprint and its Serv-U-Success distribution operation to link gig workers with identified tasks on demand. Using the app, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer aims to support its workforce needs in real time, ensuring that it can meet consumer demand. The Hyer platform was designed to provide organizations and individuals with a unified, simple way to locate, engage and manage independent work. “Hyer is the first integrated, scalable ecosystem for labor on demand in the gig economy”, noted Dave Dempsey, CEO of Rye, New York-based Hyer. “While there are several labor on-demand apps in today’s marketplace, Hyer’s robust app enables Meijer to manage multiple tasks in a single mobile application”.

US: Walmart raises starting hourly wage to $12 in 500 stores, as part of a test
Walmart is testing a slightly higher minimum wage in a few hundred of its stores, as it rolls out a new, more flexible model for how it manages workflow within the store. In roughly 500 stores, Walmart has raised starting hourly pay for team associates, a newly created role, to $12 from $11. The company said some of these new hires will work as cashiers, people who help stock shelves and deli workers. Walmart, the biggest private employer in the nation, said it has no plans to raise wages more broadly. The goal is to transition from a department model focused on narrow tasks to a more inclusive “team approach,” the company said.

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