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Poundland’s owner is postponing a potential sale or flotation

Amazon: First UK checkout-free supermarket in Notting Hill

Spain: Mercadona to invest €1.8bln in 2020 as part of transformation plan
Spanish supermarket giant Mercadona has announced that it is to invest €1.8bln this year to execute its transformation plan. The funds will be used in opening approximately 69 new supermarkets in Spain and 10 in Portugal. The company will renovate around 160 supermarkets in line with its new efficient store model, and continue to develop its global fresh project, it said. The investment will also be used to set up ready-to-eat food counters in approximately 460 stores over the course of the year.

UK: Tesco does not expect more than short-term shortages over coronavirus
Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco does not expect to see anything more than short-term shortages of certain products as customers stockpile over coronavirus, its chairmain said. John Allan, also the president of the business lobby group the CBI, told BBC Radio there was plenty of product in the supply chain and shoppers did not need to panic buy. “We and our competitors are refilling our supply chains as rapidly as ever we can, I think we’re unlikely to see anything more than very short term temporary shortages of certain products”, he said.

Ecommerce in the Netherlands: €25.8bln in 2019
Ecommerce in the Netherlands was worth 25.8bln euros last year. This is an increase of 7% compared to the situation one year before. The Dutch online retail industry grew mostly because of an increase in online grocery purchases. The 7% growth of last year is lower than in recent years, when the Dutch ecommerce grew with double-digit numbers. But it can be seen as a sign that ecommerce is maturing. For example, the online retail industry in the Netherlands now accounts for 10.3% of the country’s total retail industry. Last year, a total of 258mln online purchases were made, which is an increase of 4% compared to the situation in 2018, the latest Thuiswinkel Markt Monitor shows. The number of online buyers stayed practically the same, with 96% of Dutch aged 15 years and older that made at least one online purchase last year.

Amazon picks Notting Hill for first UK cashierless store
Amazon is bringing its first British checkout-free supermarket to Notting Hill, according to the Times. It reports that the US e-commerce giant is close to exchanging contracts for a 20,000 sq ft site at 66-74 Notting Hill Gate with property developer Enstar Capital. The store will tap Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, with groceries being supplied by Morrisons. Earlier this week, Amazon announced a new business line selling its Just Walk Out technology. And now OTG, which operates over 350 restaurants and retail locations in North American airports, has said it will be one of the first retailers to adopt the tech. The first store, a CIBO Express Gourmet Market, will open next week (16th March) in Newark Liberty’s Terminal C. This will be followed by additional ones in both Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports.

UK: Coronavirus prompts Poundland owner to postpone flotation
Poundland’s owner, Steinhoff International, is postponing a potential sale or flotation of its European arm amid uncertainty relating to coronavirus and the unrelated illness of boss Andy Bond. Pepco Europe, which has about 2,800 stores including Poundland in the UK and the Pepco and Dealz chains in Europe, was expected to finalise a takeover deal or IPO later this year after Steinhoff confirmed it was evaluating options for the group in November. But the company has decided to delay the process partly because Bond, who previously ran Asda and is a shareholder in Pepco Europe, is taking a two-month leave of absence for treatment for a medical condition, which is not linked to coronavirus.

Spain: New British supermarket set to open in Mijas by the end of March
A rapidly growing Spanish-based chain of supermarkets selling Tesco products has announced that its new Mijas store will open "by the end of March". The Food Co is currently fitting out a 600-square-metre unit on the road between Fuengirola and Mijas, in Las Lagunas. It is between rival supermarket Aldi and the car dealers Carsol. The company has an exclusive licence to sell goods from Tesco, the leading British supermarket group. It will offer 7,500 product lines of Tesco-branded goods as well as household brand names. Managers at The Food Co commented that they are always looking to offer "the best of British". The Food Co is part of Overseas Imports, which is also linked to Overseas Supermarkets, the firm already running the well-established Iceland stores on the Costa. Like at Iceland, all staff at The Food Co's store selling Tesco brands will speak English and all labels will be in English.

China: Alibaba Cloud supports retailers with e-commerce solutions to fight against coronavirus impact
Alibaba Cloud, the data intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, is to deliver a series of e-commerce solutions to businesses that are adversely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. These tailored solutions will enable retailers to launch a B2C e-commerce platform as quickly as within five days. The Alibaba Cloud e-commerce solutions provide a set of plug-and-play Alibaba Cloud products and solutions in the computing, databases, multimedia and video livestreaming, collaboration, and security and data analytics to help retailers rapidly launch an e-commerce business.

UK: Tesco confirms Jack's MD is leaving the business
Tesco has confirmed that Lawrence Harvey, the managing director of its discount fascia is leaving Jack's to join Barclays. He will be replaced by Sarah Lawler who has been promoted from the position of business support director. Harvey has led the Jack's project since the outset, having previously held regional store and retail director roles at Tesco and before that senior positions at Aldi. His departure is likely to raise fresh questions about the long term future of Jack's.

US: How Dollar General keeps growing
Dollar General has extended its streak of same-store sales growth to 30 consecutive years, with fourth-quarter same-store sales increasing 3.2% and fiscal year same-store sales increasing 3.9%. “Our value-and-convenience proposition continues to resonate with both new and existing customers, and our unique real estate footprint remains a competitive advantage”, said Todd Vasos, Dollar General's CEO. "As we enter 2020 from a position of strength, we will continue to keep our core customer at the center of all we do, while remaining steadfast in our efforts to deliver long-term shareholder value”. During fiscal year 2019, Dollar General opened 975 new stores, remodeled 1,024 stores and relocated 100 stores. The company's fiscal year 2019 net sales increased 8.3% to $27.8bln, and Q4 net sales increased 7.6% to $7.2bln.

Canada: Empire reports Q3 sales and profit up
Empire Co. Ltd. says it earned $120.5mln in its latest quarter, up from $65.8mln in the same period a year earlier. The parent company of Sobeys and Safeway grocery stores says the profit amounted to 45 cents per diluted share for the 13-week period ended February 1 compared with 24 cents per share a year earlier. Sales in what was the company’s third quarter totalled nearly $6.4bln, up from $6.2bln in the same quarter a year ago. Same-store sales gained 1%, while same-store sales growth, excluding fuel, rose 0.8%.

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