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UNFI: 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Amazon in a “Prime’” position for even more growth

US: Former Supervalu CEO Michael Wright dead at 81
Michael Wright, who was the CEO of Minneapolis-based Supervalu during the 1980s and 1990s, when it became the largest grocery wholesaler in the United States, died January 27 at his home in Wayzata, Minnesota, according to published reports. The cause of death was given as complications of pneumonia. He was 81. During his tenure at the helm, which lasted until 2000, although he remained chairman until his retirement from that position 2 years later, Wright shepherded multiple acquisitions, including of St. Louis-based wholesaler Wetterau Inc. in 1992, that made Supervalu into the nation’s largest food distributor at that time and the 10th-largest retail grocer, with Stillwater, Minnesota-based Cub Foods as its lead banner.

US: Walmart cuts jobs in Manhattan amid e-commerce shakeup
Walmart's shakeup of its e-commerce operations will cost more New Yorkers their jobs. The retail behemoth filed a notice with the state Labor Department that it will lay off 29 people from its 56-person office in Flatiron District by April 24. The office, at 54 W. 21st St., is home to part of the company's e-commerce division, including an incubator that develops new brands in health, beauty, wellness and home furnishings, according to the notice. A Walmart spokeswoman said the company is "integrating many of these (incubator) brands as private brands within Walmart as we continue to deepen our category expertise and strengthen our ability to offer customers a larger range of products".

US: Meijer, Citi Retail Services introducing co-branded credit card
Meijer and Citi Retail Services have forged a long-term agreement for the global bank to provide private label and co-branded credit card services for the retailer. “At Meijer, we’re always looking for ways to provide value to our customers”, said Rick Keyes, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company. “We believe this new relationship with Citi Retail Services will extend benefits to our customers while also providing them yet another way to shop our stores”.

US: Longtime supermarket CEO retiring
A new chief executive is taking the reins of Houchens Industries. Jimmie Gipson, the longtime CEO and chairman of Houchens Industries (the parent company of Save-A-Lot, IGA and Food Giant stores), will retire on March 31, after nearly 55 years with the company. He will be succeeded in both roles by Dion Houchins, executive VP, who joined Houchens in 2009. Gipson, who started his career at Houchens in 1965 almost immediately after graduating from college, has served as CEO of the company since 1993. During his tenure, Houchens grew from a regional grocer to a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that is also one of the largest 100% employee-held companies in the world.

US: This year's Super Bowl promises to bring more shoppers online
About 90% of online food orders placed during the Super Bowl this year are expected to be first-time users of online food delivery services, according to findings from Polly, a tool from artificial intelligence-driven market research company Advanced Symbolics. Among Super Bowl fans, Polly found 52% of people are aware of Instacart, while 12% of fans show interest in Shipt and 6% for Walmart Grocery and Amazon Fresh. In terms of what people are planning to eat this Super Bowl, Polly found healthy choices like nuts, pretzels and vegetables will be served up alongside or instead of the usual chips, dip and wings. Nielsen also reported a shift toward multicultural menus.

US: 3 tips for tackling grocery store competition while improving customer experience
Most Americans still prefer buying their groceries in brick-and-mortar stores, despite the rise of online food shopping, according to recent reports. They enjoy picking their own produce, sampling freshly baked goods and grabbing ready-to-heat-and-eat meal kits to take home for dinner. What they don’t like: choke points such as long lines at the checkout. As such, there are 3 overall changes and improvements brick-and-mortar grocers should put in place to go head-to-head with a growing group of competitors in today’s escalating grocery wars: 1. Work toward a frictionless experience 2. Deliver greater personalization 3. Drive differentiation

Canada: Plastic grocery bags no longer offered at checkout in Sobeys Stores
Sobeys reported: "We have launched several initiatives that are working towards our commitment to reduce plastics. For instance: Starting January 31, 2020 we will no longer offer plastic grocery bags at checkout in our Sobeys Stores; Across all of our banners, we introduced plastic checkout bag made with 30% less plastic, reducing the amount of plastic used by the equivalent of 33mln checkout bags; Launched a reusable container pilot in all of our IGA stores in Quebec; Diverted over 1mln kgs of plastic bags from landfills by converting them into decking, furniture, and a Sobeys parking lot through partnerships like TREX Recycling Program and LakeCity Plastics; Started eliminating plastic mini-cucumber trays - which were replaced with 100% recycled paper trays that are recyclable and biodegradable; We continue to encourage customers to use reusable bags and post signage in our parking lots and entry ways as reminders".

US: UNFI announces 2019 report on social and environmental responsibility
United Natural Foods, Inc., the largest publicly-traded grocery distributor in the U.S., released its 2019 Corporate Social Responsibility Report. The report, now in its ninth annual edition, reflects a comprehensive summary of the Company's progress on its social and environmental commitments. "UNFI has a long tradition of doing the right thing - giving back and operating our business in a way that minimizes our environmental footprint. As we grow, we remain committed to being good stewards of our planet, our communities, and our people", said Steven L. Spinner, UNFI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We are particularly concerned about the effects of climate change and are actively working to evaluate and mitigate our climate impact. More than ever, I'm proud of the difference we've made on all fronts. Not only are we changing the face of grocery distribution, we continue to use our scale for better".

US: Price Rite brings latest format to more stores
Price Rite Marketplace has rolled out its new look and enhanced shopping experience to another five stores in Massachusetts under a 16-month-old rebranding program. The Wakefern Food Corp. banner said grand reopenings were held this weekend at Price Rite stores in Chicopee, Pittsfield, Springfield, West Springfield and Westfield, Massachusetts. Store redesigns include new décor and a more vibrant color palette, a farmer’s market-style produce department, LED lighting, improved signage and new self-service checkouts.

Why Amazon is primed for a record-breaking 2020
A sensational holiday shopping season has put Amazon in a “Prime’” position for even more growth just a few months before the company opens the doors to an ambitious new grocery chain. Seattle-based Inc. reported fourth-quarter profit of $3.3bln, or $6.47 a share, on record quarterly sales of $87.4bln, after reporting profit of $6.04 a share on sales of $72.38bln a year ago. The results were especially impressive considering that during the previous quarter, Amazon warned that $1.5bln of investments in faster shipping times would weigh on its holiday quarter earnings. Instead, those investments paid off in the way of “record-breaking holiday sales” and an earnings report that catapulted shares of the ecommerce behemoth’s stock toward a $1tln valuation as of late Thursday. “Early results are good. Our grocery delivery orders from the combination of Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market more than doubled in the fourth quarter year over year”, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said. 

Brazil: Carrefour delivers best quarterly like-for-like performance in 5 years
Carrefour Brazil has reported annual gross sales of BRL59.4bln (US$14.1bln), a 11% growth year-on year. Q4 sales reached BRL16.8bln (US$4bln), representing growth of 11.4%. The performance was driven by strong like-for-like growth of 7.6%. Q4 LFL sales for its core estate was 12.7% in Q4 (up from 8.8% in Q3), its highest quarterly like-for-like (LFL) growth in 5 years. 2019 revenue for Carrefour’s core estate (excluding Atacadão) reached BRL17.3bln (US$4.1bln). This represents annual growth of 8.7%, which was driven almost entirely by an increase in LFL of 9.1% (expansion declined by -0.3%). Q4 sales reached BRL5bln (US$1.2bln), 12.8% growth.

Australia: Independent supermarket co-op could spell trouble for Metcash
A group of Australia’s independent supermarkets and convenience stores have come together to form a new co-operative that could spell trouble for the nation’s leading grocery wholesaler, Metcash. Led by former Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Warwick White, through his independent grocery firm Stone Advisory, and with Ritchies Supa IGA boss Fred Harrison on the board, Co-Operative Supermarkets Australia is expected to use its industry experience and contacts to collectively bargain with suppliers. According to documents submitted to the ACCC’s public register in November, Co-Operative Supermarkets Australia (CSA) and its members wish to “collectively bargain with suppliers of all kinds in the Australian grocery industry supply chain”.

India: Reliance SMART Superstore extends its reach in Odisha with 3 new stores
Reliance SMART Superstore, a large format grocery supermarket from Reliance Retail further extended its footprint in Odisha as it launched 2 new stores in Cuttack and 1 new store in Rayagada in the state. The 2 new stores in Cuttack are centrally located at Abdul Wahid Property, Buxi Bazaar and Sai Complex, near Kitaab Mahal at College Square, while the Reliance Smart store in Rayagada is located at VK Central on Station Road, Rayagada. The Reliance SMART store provides a one-stop shopping experience by offering a wide range of products under one roof, ranging from Grocery, Fruits & Vegetables, Dairy to Kitchenware, Homeware, Apparel etc.

China: Online grocery orders surge amid outbreak
Online delivery platforms have mobilized to fulfill an explosion in fresh food and household item orders from local residents, who are advised to better stay at home amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. Alibaba's fresh food vendor Freshippo said it has prepared 250 tons of packaged vegetables and 80 tons of bulk vegetables for nearly 50 stores in Shanghai, which is six times above normal volume. It also plans to bring an additional 100 tons of vegetables everyday from farms in Shandong, Yunnan and Fujian provinces, said Huang Yifan, who is in charge of vegetable procurement for Freshippo in Shanghai.

UK: Iceland trials swathes of plastic-free packaging for fruit and veg
Iceland is set to trial plastic-free and low-plastic packaging across 38 of its fruit and vegetable lines, in a step towards its ambition for all own-brand lines to be free from single-use plastics by 2023. The first phase of the trial will begin at 33 of Iceland’s stores in Greater London and the South East, to collect information about the impact of the new packaging formats on factors like customer choices and food waste. During phase one, packaging on 27 produce lines will be changed, while phase two will begin on 4 March and see packaging altered across a further 11 lines. Products included in phase one of the trial include multipacks of potatoes, peppers, apples and carrots. Phase two will see Iceland trial new plastic-free packaging for banana bunches, after trials of cardboard bands in 2019 were found to increase in-store food waste.

Research shows discounters part of seismic shift in UK grocery shopping habits
New research provides clear evidence that discounters like Aldi and Lidl are part of a seismic shift in UK grocery shopping habits. The research, conducted in December by shopper insight experts Shoppercentric for its 50th Shopper Trends Report, shows that 67% of UK shoppers had shopped in discounters in the previous month, a growth of 56% since 2016. In comparison the mainstream supermarkets remained almost static at 84%. The research also showed that 17% percent of UK shoppers now shop little and often, avoiding a large main shop, a 55% increase since 2016.

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