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Report: Carrefour is in advanced talks to buy retail chain Makro in Brazil

Sonae MC: Highest growth in turnover for more than 10 years

Finland: Kesko reports strong FY2019 growth
Finland-based Kesko reported sales through its grocery trade subsidiary rose 2.7% in total in 2019, to €5.5bln. It said on a comparable basis, sales rose 3.2%, while its operating profit advanced by €33.4mln to €327.9mln for the year. Kesko highlighted how the results were driven by its continued adherence to the strategy it set out in 2015 ‘and its successful execution’. Kesko said its performance had seen it grow ahead of the market and continue to see it gain further share. It said net sales grew across all its formats, while its grocery ecommerce sales ‘continued to grow strongly’. Kesko noted how owners’ implementation of new store-specific ideas had led to ‘better selections and services for… customers’, a development that it aimed to support further in 2020.

Sweden: ICA sees slight profit decrease in fourth quarter
Swedish retailer ICA Gruppen has posted a profit of SEK915mln (€86.7mln) in the fourth quarter of its financial year, which is down 1.6% from the SEK930mln (€88.2mln) it reported for the same period last year. The retailer said that its profit performance was affected by capital losses on the sale of non-current assets, as well as impairment losses totalling SEK18mln. Consolidated net sales for the period were up 2.6%, to SEK30.85bln (€2.92bln), while operating profit was also up, to SEK 1.27bln (€120mln).

China: Foodpanda Hong Kong officially launches Pandamart grocery delivery service
Food delivery company Foodpanda Hong Kong has expanded outside of food delivery into groceries, officially launching Pandamart, an on-demand delivery service offering a wide variety of products. The new arm was soft-launched in November 2019 and is already collaborating with around 1,000 shops with 14,000 items sold. “Pandamart aims to redefine the shopping experience in Hong Kong by delivering our customers whatever they want and need in as fast as 15 minutes. With increasing customer occasions to order products online, we hope Pandamart will be the solution for anything at anytime they want,” said Jeremy Wong, head of Pandamart, Hong Kong.

South Africa: Pick n Pay adds fresh produce bags to range of re-usable shopping bags
Retail chain Pick n Pay has expanded its range of re-usable shopping bags. The retailer will trial a re-usable netted fresh produce bag as an alternative to the clear plastic bags shoppers usually place their fruit and vegetables in. Pick n Pay's Suzanne Ackerman-Berman says there has been a positive response to the trial in the Western Cape. The bags cost R7.50 and are available from its Constantia, Gardens, Melkbos, Vangate Mall and Wynberg stores.

Portugal: Sonae MC sees highest growth in decade
Portuguese retail group Sonae MC has reported a 9.2% increase in sales in full-year 2019, to €4.7bln in 2019, while like-for-like sales were up 3%. This is the retailer's biggest growth in turnover in more than 10 years, with Sonae MC seeing a positive performance across all its banners. Sales in the group's hypermarkets rose 1.9% to €1.65bln, while supermarket sales increased 7.9% to €2.24bln (+3.1% LFL). In the retailer's 'New Growth Businesses & Others' segment, turnover was up 32.9%, to €810mln, which was boosted by the purchase of the Spanish chain Arenal.

UK: New John Lewis boss warns staff of store closures and job losses
The new chairman of the John Lewis Partnership has warned of potential store closures and job losses as part of a plan to shore up its finances. Sharon White told the employee-owned group’s staff council that it faced making “difficult decisions about stores and about jobs” during what was its “most challenging period” since its inception in the 1920s. Despite the hard work of employees, trading results were disappointing and not generating enough profit to invest in the business, she told the meeting. Decisions at the group, which runs department stores and the Waitrose supermarket chain, would not be taken lightly, White said, and the business would set itself apart from conventional rivals by showing “humanity” to staff affected. The group has more than 80,000 employees and a turnover of £11.7bln. It operates 50 John Lewis stores and has 338 Waitrose branches.

Tesco asks Thai tycoons for next-round bids
Britain’s largest supermarket chain Tesco Plc is inviting Thai tycoons to the second round of bidding for its operations in Thailand and Malaysia that could fetch more than $7bln, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont’s Charoen Pokphand Group and Central Group, controlled by the Chirathivat family, were picked to proceed with deadline for the bids due in the next few weeks, said the people. Tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Group has also been chosen, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Australia: Coles flags forecast-beating earnings though falls short of year earlier
Australian supermarket chain Coles Group Ltd said a strong year-end performance likely pushed its first-half earnings beyond analyst estimates - albeit still below the year-earlier level - briefly sending its shares up nearly 2%. Coles said same-store sales for the 3 months ended January 5 grew 3.6% versus 0.1% in the previous quarter, taking the overall first-half figure including the New Year holiday to 2%. That compared with 3% in the first half a year earlier which ended on December 31.

India: DMart owner Avenue Supermarts launches mega QIP to trim promoter stake
Veteran stock market investor Radhakishan Damani-led Avenue Supermarts, which operates supermarket chain DMart, has approved the launch of a qualified institutional placement (QIP) by the promoters. The company said the issue has been approved to the tune of 20,000,000 shares, which would translate into a size of around Rs4,000 crore at current market price.

Russia: Magnit reins in expansion after profit slides
Russia’s second biggest food retailer Magnit said it would open fewer stores this year and cut back on spending in a bid to improve efficiency after its net income more than halved in the fourth quarter. Magnit, whose low-cost shops have been struggling to compete with market leader X5 in a weak economic environment, said it planned to open about 1,300 stores on a net basis in 2020, down from 2,377 in 2019. “(The) store opening programme of the current year reflects stricter return requirements and a greater focus on operating efficiency. Closures include stores in different regions which do not meet company’s profitability and return criteria”, it said in a statement.

Carrefour in talks to acquire Makro retail chain in Brazil: report
The Brazilian unit of France’s Carrefour SA is in advanced talks to buy retail chain Makro, controlled by Netherlands’ SHV Holdings, Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The paper said the deal is worth around 5 bln reais ($1.2bln) and could be announced next week, without saying how it got the information. Carrefour Brasil and Makro did not immediately reply when contacted by Reuters seeking comment.

Uber sees path to profit despite $1.1bn loss
Uber's business continues to grow, but so do its losses. The firm lost $1.1bln (£851mln) in the last three months of 2019, even as revenue jumped 37% to $4bn and the number of trips made on its platform rose by 28%. Spending to expand its Uber Eats food delivery business hurt the firm's bottom line. Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi said he was "gratified" with the progress the firm is making toward profitability. Adjusted for items such as taxes, the core "ride" part of the business turned a profit in the last three months of last year.

US: Hy-Vee ends 24-hour operations
After Sunday, Hy-Vee will no longer operate 24 hours a day, the retailer told Grocery Dive. It also said the new hours will vary by location and market, but the Star Tribune reported it will be 5 a.m. to midnight at 11 locations in the Twin Cities. Hours for its Fast & Fresh location will remain 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Hy-Vee has always had stores that aren't open 24 hours, but it is moving the rest of its stores to that model. The grocer’s spokeswoman Christina Gayman told Grocery Dive the retailer changed its hours to allocate more team members to busier shopping times in order to assist shoppers. Some non-public-facing employees will still work the graveyard shift. No employees will be laid off in the process. The retailer has posted signage alerting their customers to their new hours, effective February 10.

US: Costco Wholesale Corporation reports January sales results
Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco” or the “Company”) reported net sales of $11.57bln for the retail month of January, the four weeks ended February 2, 2020, an increase of 8.0% from $10.71bln last year. For the twenty-two weeks ended February 2, 2020, the Company reported net sales of $68.56bln, an increase of 7.6% from $63.70bln during the similar period last year.

US: Target introduces new branding for Shipt
Target has introduced a new logo and colour palette for its same-day delivery service, Shipt. Target acquired Shipt in 2017. The deal enabled the retailer to advance its plans to offer a same-day delivery service by around 2 years. The on-demand delivery service has been fully integrated into the Target platform, including its website and app, and extended to 250 US markets across 48 states. The service enables Target customers to order from over 65,000 items for same-day delivery. The new logo presents a more contemporary image, featuring the outline of a shopping bag, compared to the previous spaceship type design.

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