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Majid Al Futtaim: Slight increase in annual earnings

Jeronimo Martins: Record EBITDA

UK: Aldi tops most recommended supermarket ranking
Aldi is the supermarket in the UK most recommended by its customers, with none of the Big Four making into the top 10 ranking. YouGov’s 2020 Recommend Rankings were created by calculating the percentage of customers who say that they would recommend that brand to a friend or colleague. Aldi leads the rankings with 78% of its current customers endorsing the discount supermarket to people they know. Ocado takes second place with a recommend score of 74%, just beating Lidl on 73%. YouGov highlighted that it will be interesting to see if Ocado’s score is impacted after it switches its product supply arrangement from Waitrose to Marks & Spencer in September. Waitrose itself places fourth this year on 71%.

UAE: Majid Al Futtaim posts slight increase in annual earnings, sees improved 2020
Majid Al Futtaim’s profit grew 1% to AED 4.6bln ($1.25bln) in 2019, the company said in a statement. According to the MAF statement, revenue also increased 1% year-on-year to AED 35.2bln ($9.58bln). Additionally, the company said that operational cash flow amounted to 122% of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). The company’s total assets were valued at AED 63bln. In its outlook for 2020, MAF said it "plans further expansion in markets with high growth potential as well as its home market, the UAE". 

Portugal: Jeronimo Martins posts record EBITDA, strong growth
Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins reported a 7.9% rise in last year’s net profit, surpassing for the first time the 1bln euro EBITDA mark, boosted by businesses in Poland. Net profit totalled 433mln euros, Jeronimo Martins, the largest food retailer in Poland and second-largest in Portugal, said in a statement. Sales in local currency at its Biedronka supermarket chain in Poland jumped 8.8% in 2019, despite the new regulation that prohibits opening supermarkets on some Sundays.

Holland: Ahold Delhaize steps up Healthy & Sustainable ambition for people, planet and business
Ahold Delhaize announced new long-term targets for its Healthy and Sustainable growth driver. Entering the last year of fulfilling its 2020 sustainability targets, the company has established a new set of ambitions to inspire customers to make healthier and more informed choices, to increase product transparency, and to eliminate waste. “Food-related diseases and the impact of climate change are affecting billions of people, including those in our communities and our business. That is why we need to accelerate in the areas where we can create the most value”, President and CEO Frans Muller said. “As an international food retailer, we are in a great position to help tackle these global issues together, with our customers and with our partners in the industry and across the supply chain, to create a healthier and more resilient food system. I am convinced that this will make our business stronger and more robust for the future”.

Norway: SPAR increases market share
SPAR was the only supermarket chain in Norway to increase its market share during 2019, according to a quarterly report published this month by market researcher Nielsen. The Norwegian retail market is characterised by tough competition and a high store density. SPAR Norway attributes the growth of its market share from 6,9% to 7,3% over the past 5 years to excellent store operations and instore promotions. “We’re very pleased with the fact that we yet again are able to increase our market share. This would not have been possible without our accomplished independent retailers and all our employees”, said Ole Christian Fjeldheim, CEO at SPAR Norway.

Japan: Lawson opens “Amazon Go” style store in Kawasaki
Lawson is launching a checkout-free convenience store that will allow shoppers to make purchases via a smartphone app. The new store is located in a Fujitsu Ltd. office building in Kawasaki, Japan. It will open exclusively for Fujitsu employees on 26th February. Lawson will monitor the stores' operations until the end of May before opening a similar store to the general public this summer. To enter the store, shoppers need to download the Lawson Go app and then scan a QR code at the entrance. The customer’s location within the store will be tracked by 28 cameras. Products are identified using both the position of the customer’s extended hand and weight sensors on shelves. Customers can then just walk out like in Amazon Go. A receipt is sent to the app a few minutes after the customer leaves the store.

UK: Waitrose named best supermarket by Which?
Waitrose has been rated the best UK in-store supermarket in consumer group Which?'s annual satisfaction survey. The John Lewis-owned chain scored 5 stars in almost every category, but was ranked joint worst for value. It's the second time it's been voted the top grocery store, despite budget chains Aldi and Lidl being ranked best for value. "The quality of fresh products is the most important factor when choosing where to shop in store", said Which?

Pakistani online grocery startup MandiExpress raises $725k
MandiExpress, a Pakistani online fresh produce and grocery delivery startup, has raised US$725,000 in a pre-series A funding round led by institutional VC fund Lakson Investments Venture Capital. Private investor Disrupt, which has been backing the startup since its seed stage, also provided follow-on funding. MandiExpress takes a data-driven approach to fulfillment of B2B and B2C fresh produce orders. Its tech platform autonomously gathers price data for its buyers located at daily auctions, locally known as sabzi mandis. This allows the company to buy high-grade produce at lower prices and pass the savings to its customers.

Brazil: GPA says may sell $700 mln in assets in coming months
Brazilian supermarket chain GPA SA could sell more than 3bln reais ($683.99mln) in assets in the coming months, its chief financial officer said, after weaker-than-expected quarterly results hammered its shares. “We’re still analyzing and there will be significant opportunities to monetize assets in upcoming months”, CFO Christophe José Hidalgo told analysts and investors in a call to discuss fourth-quarter results. GPA, which controlled by French retailer Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, aims to make more than 3bln reais in divestments in the short and mid-term, Hidalgo said, citing real estate assets, gas stations and even operations in Argentina or Uruguay.

Carrefour Brasil Q4 net rises 6.3% on strong sales
Brazilian food retailer Carrefour Brasil SA reported a 6.3% increase in fourth-quarter net income year-on-year as strong sales continued to fuel growth. In a securities filing, the company said its quarterly net profit rose to 735 mln reais. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 16.4% to 1.465bln reais. Revenues were stronger, with double-digit growth across both wholesale and retail segments.

Sungiven Foods aims for differentiation with Canadian entry
Sungiven Foods, which operates around 100 grocery stores in China, has recently entered the Canadian market. The retailer, which operates stores in Xiamen, Dalian, Quanzhou, and Shenzhen in China, has entered the Canadian market with a differentiated concept to target the ethnic market. At around 15,000 sq ft, the store is significantly smaller than conventional stores in the segment. The retailer aims to be a “Healthy Daily Meals Provider”, emphasising natural and minimally-processed ingredients. Over the next 3 to 5 years, the retailer aims to open 15 stores, centred on the Metro Vancouver market.

Seven & I bids for US c-store network Speedway
Seven & I Holdings, the Japanese parent of convenience-store chain 7-Eleven, is in talks to purchase Marathon Petroleum’s Speedway convenience-store network in the US for around US$22bln. According to a Bloomberg report, the transaction could be announced as early as this week and would be the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese firm in the US so far this year. Speedway has about 4000 convenience stores across the US, and has an enterprise value estimated at between US$15bln and $18bln. Parent Marathon is currently under pressure to break up its business, which could see the firm spin off its retail operations.

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