US: Walmart looks to optimise Jet Black learnings as service closes
Walmart is closing its conversational commerce and ordering by text service, Jet Black. It will apply the learnings from this venture into its core ecommerce business. Jet Black was launched 18 months ago as the first company within Walmart’s Store No 8 incubator. The $50 per month membership-based service enabled members to text in their shopping requests, use Apple’s voice to text service, or send images of products by text. These were handled by a mix of automation and human interaction. The service offered same-day delivery, with members able to order from Walmart and Jet.com along with any other retailer. Items were aggregated into one delivery and included complementary gift wrap and personalised cards.
Amazon’s new grocery store looks a lot like, well, a supermarket
The $800bln grocery industry is keeping a sharp eye on a strip mall in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. There, sandwiched between a nail salon and a bank branch, Amazon.com Inc. is working on the first in a new chain of grocery stores set to open this year. The company has kept construction inside the store firmly under wraps, and, until now, no one has peeked in on Amazon’s latest plan to upend how food is sold. Based on never-before-seen photos of the facility at 6245 Topanga Canyon Blvd., as well as planning documents filed with the city, the store looks remarkably conventional - with a few Amazon-style flourishes.
US: Kowalski's heads to the mall
Kowalski's Markets, which operates 11 stores in the Twin Cities area, plans to open locations inside 2 local malls, the Star Tribune reported. The grocer, which operates popular European-style market, recently signed a lease for a 30,000 square-foot space inside Rosedale Center, located in Roseville, Minnesota. Construction will begin next year and the store will open in early 2022. Kowalski's also expects to sign a lease on a space in the nearby Southdale Center, located in Edina, Minnesota. Construction is expected to be complete by 2022. Kowalski's Rosedale location will be slightly larger than its existing 28,000-square-foot stores and will have a separate wine and spirits shop. Both the Rosedale and Southdale stores were previously leased by Herberger’s department stores, which shut down operations in 2018.
US: Aldi to open 2 new Long Island, New York stores
German deep-discounter Aldi has revealed plans to open 2 new stores on New York’s Long Island in the first half of this year, 1 in Valley Stream - its first location in Nassau County - and 1 in North Babylon. The grocer is investing more than $5bln to remodel 1,300 existing stores and open hundreds of new stores across the country in a bid to become the third-largest U.S. grocery retailer by store count by the end of 2022. Although Aldi has had stores on Long Island since 2011, the new stores - its first in the area since 2016 - are perhaps in response to rival chain Lidl’s plan to open 8 locations on the island by this summer. Once Aldi’s Valley Stream and North Babylon stores open, it will have the same number of stores on Long Island, as well as 7 New York City stores in 4 boroughs.
US: Wegmans brings online grocery delivery to Manhattan via Instacart
From its four-month-old Brooklyn store, Wegmans Food Markets is extending its reach deeper into the Big Apple through its partnership with Instacart. Wegmans said that the Instacart delivery radius from the location, at 21 Flushing Ave. in the Admirals Row site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard development, has been expanded to include all Manhattan ZIP codes. The store, the first New York City location for Wegmans, began Instacart grocery delivery to adjacent communities on October 30 after opening its doors to great fanfare on October 27.
Amazon wins injunction in US 'Jedi' contract fight
A judge has hit pause on a major US government contract in a win for Amazon, which had challenged the award. The tech giant, which had been favoured to win the cloud computing deal, sued last year after the US Defense Department gave the opportunity to arch-rival Microsoft instead. Amazon has accused officials of bowing to pressure from Donald Trump. The US president has often attacked Amazon and boss Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper. Amazon had asked the court to block the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, known as Jedi, which is worth up to $10bln over 10 years.
Brazil supermarkets sales to grow 3.9% in 2020 - Abras
Brazilian supermarket sales are expected to grow 3.9% in 2020 compared with 2019, with the economic recovery boosting consumption levels in the country, local supermarkets association Abras said. In 2019, Abras added, supermarket sales increased by 3.62% compared with 2018, surpassing an initial forecast of a 3% rise.
Ricardo Álvarez named new CEO of DIA Spain
DIA has announced the appointment of Ricardo Álvarez as the new chief executive of its Spanish division. He will be responsible for leading the retailer's turnaround and growth in the country. Álvarez's appointment is in line with the company's strategy to focus on local businesses with experienced teams in countries where it operates, DIA said in its statement. The chief executive of DIA Group, Karl-Heinz Holland, welcomed him to the company, saying: "He [Álvarez] is dynamic and agile, coupled with a proven track record of achieving ambitious goals with excellent results and a clear passion for the client. With his support and experience, I am sure that we will accelerate the process of change that the business needs".
South Africa: SPAR highlights challenging conditions
SPAR South Africa said group sales rose 5.4% to ZAR39.79bln (US$2.67bln) as part of a trading update covering the 18 weeks to 31 January 2020. The group noted it had been a ‘challenging start to the year’, with a relatively weak position across all the markets in which it operates. SPAR said its operations Southern Africa saw sales growth of 4.9%, with its core SPAR business enjoying sales growth of 6.1%. This performance was driven by a 4.6% increase in like-for-like sales, although with internal price inflation at 4.2%, led by an ‘upward movement of prices in a wide range of grocery and perishable items’, it suggests that volume growth was limited.
Australia: Aldi offers up $700mln logistics portfolio
German retailer Aldi is set to enter a $700mln sale and leaseback of a number of its logistic centres in order to capitalise on the boom in industrial property deals as demand continues to outweigh availability of quality stock. The initial 4 Aldi warehouses, located along the east coast, will be sold and likely leased back in order to place proceeds back into its front line supermarket operations. Aldi has enlisted real estate firm JLL to sell the logistics centres which are expected to reach a combined valuation of $700mln and generate $30mln in annual income. Aldi has now built a network of 554 stores across the country after entering the Australian market in 2001, taking on local giants Coles and Woolworths with its low cost, private label model.
China: Another 11.11 record boosts Alibaba’s quarterly results
Alibaba Group has reported top-line revenue growth of 38% in the December quarter. “Our digital economy reached new heights with another record 11.11 Global Shopping Festival for our merchants and partners”, said chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang. “Continued investment in user engagement, especially through social-commerce content, contributed to our strong gains in annual active consumers. As a result of its rapid growth, our cloud-computing services for the first time generated revenue of over RMB10bln (US$1.4bln) in a single quarter”, he said. Total Alibaba Group revenue reached US$23.192bln for the quarter and non-GAAP net income was $6.678bln, an increase of 56% year-over-year. Adjusted EBITDA growth was 37%.
Holland: Ahold Delhaize and Philips announce first Kickstart AI joint appointments
Ahold Delhaize and Philips announced their first Kickstart AI joint appointments to help the Netherlands strengthen AI research and education capabilities and train the next generation of AI researchers in the Netherlands. These appointments represent the first steps in the companies’ commitment to the Kickstart AI platform, announced on 10 October 2019. Ahold Delhaize will welcome Sebastian Schelter, Ph.D., currently a Faculty Fellow with the Center for Data Science at New York University, as an appointment to the faculty of University of Amsterdam, while Philips’ Nicola Pezzotti, Senior Scientist in Artificial Intelligence, has been appointed as part-time assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
UK: Greggs pens concession partnership with Asda
Customers in selected Asda stores will soon be able to pick up food from a Greggs counter in-store as part of a new concession partnership. As part of the new deal, Greggs will trial shop-in-shops in five Asda stores in Boldon, Corby, Huyton, Eastlands and Wigan. The first concessions are due to launch next month. The concessions will stock Greggs’ full range, and the partnership is the latest deal in Asda’s bid to broaden its food-to-go offering.
Sonae MC joins the Portuguese Plastics Pact
Sonae MC has joined the Portuguese Plastics Pact, an initiative aimed at fostering the circular plastic economy in Portugal. This step is in line with Sonae MC’s Sustainability Policy, which prioritises the sustainable use of plastic, the retailer said. The Portuguese Plastics Pact’s 23 members have committed to a series of 2025 targets, including: Defining a list of single-use plastic items deemed problematic or unnecessary and measures for their elimination, through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models by the end of 2020; Ensuring that 100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; Increasing collections so that at least 70% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled; Incorporating, on average, 30% of recycled plastic in new plastic packaging.
Couche-Tard ups takeover bid for Australian convenience chain
Caltex Australia Ltd., Australia’s largest retail fuel and convenience chain, says it has received a revised takeover offer from Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. The Australian company says the proposal would pay AU$35.25 cash per share less any dividends declared or paid by Caltex. The revised proposal allows Caltex to pay a special dividend to shareholders. The Australian retailer says the Quebec-based convenience store chain has indicated its revised price was its “best and final price in the absence of a competing proposal”. Couche-Tard raised its offer for Caltex from AU$34.50 per share after the Australian firm said the $7.7bln offer in December undervalued the company. It was also rebuffed in October when it made an offer of AU$32 per share.