Survey: US retailers brace for financial, supply-chain disruptions from coronavirus
Nearly half of retailers expect the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to pull down their revenue, according to a survey by Digital Commerce 360. Of more than 300 retailers polled, 47% said they expect “some downside revenue implications” from the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago-based B2B e-commerce market researcher said in its “Taking the Pulse: Retailers and the Coronavirus” study. Another 9% anticipate “significant downside revenue implications”.
US: UNFI sells the real estate of 15 Cub Foods locations
Unable so far to sell the 79 Cub Foods stores it owns, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has found an alternative to glean cash from the supermarket chain. UNFI Chief Executive Steve Spinner announced that it will sell the real estate of 15 Cub stores for $170mln. The sale represents 1.1mln square feet of retail space. It is expected to close by August. As part of an agreement with the unidentified buyer, UNFI will then pay rent on the store spaces. “There won’t be any noticeable changes in the stores”, said UNFI spokesman Mike Wilken. “It’s just the real estate changing ownership”. Until the sale closes, UNFI is not releasing the locations of the 15 stores.
US: Dollar General to accelerate grocery initiatives
Dollar General this year plans to double the scale of its DG Fresh self-distribution program for fresh and frozen products. During the company’s earnings call, company CEO Todd Vasos said the program will distribute to 12,000 stores by the end of 2020, up from 6,000 currently, and have as many as 10 dedicated distribution facilities, up from a current five. Vasos also said Dollar General plans to add fresh produce to around 400 stores this year, nearly doubling its previously stated goal of 250 stores. By the end of 2020, more than 1,000 Dollar General stores will carry an assortment of fruits and vegetables.
Walmart to name Sameer Aggarwal CEO of India unit
Walmart India is elevating Sameer Aggarwal as head of its India operations in April, replacing Krish Iyer, the veteran who has been at the helm in the country for more than six years, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Iyer, currently president and CEO of Walmart India, will move to an advisory role within the company as his contract with the US giant is set to expire only next year, two people said. A Walmart India spokesperson declined to comment on the changes.
Coronavirus: Morrisons to pay small UK suppliers immediately
Supermarket chain Morrisons is to pay its small suppliers immediately to help keep them afloat amid coronavirus uncertainty. The move aims to help suppliers get through any difficulties caused by the spread of the disease, a spokesman said. Morrisons is the first major UK supermarket to make this kind of change to its payment terms. It follows government measures to support small firms and the UK economy.
UK: Costcutter Supermarkets Group believed to be up for sale with PwC
Three senior industry sources have claimed that Costcutter Supermarkets Group owner, Bibby Line Group have begun a formal process for selling its convenience arm. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is alleged to be managing the process. It was claimed that several interested parties have signed non-disclosure agreements in order to be granted access to Costcutter’s confidential commercial information. Responding to the claims, a spokesperson for Costcutter told betterRetailing: “As on previous occasions, we will not be commenting on rumour and speculation about the future ownership of our business. Our focus is on delivering the great offer and service our retailers rely on to help their businesses thrive”.
Lithuania: Maxima sees strong demand for fruit and vegetables in 2019
Lithuanian retailer Maxima has reported a 15% year-on-year growth in the sales of vegetables in 2019, while fruit and berries saw a 33% growth. The retailer has attributed this growth to a 5% reduction in VAT (value-added tax) for fresh fruit and vegetables, which was introduced in January 2018. In 2019, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage emerged as the most popular local vegetable in its stores, while the 5 most popular fruit and berries were apples, cranberries, strawberries, pears and raspberries. Latvian buyers' also indulged in blueberries last year, with sales increasing almost 4.5 times compared with 2018. In the first 2 months of 2020, the demand for mangoes doubled, the retailer added.
Holland: Picnic will pick up returns from online shoppers
Online-only supermarket Picnic will start picking up returns from online shoppers. The Dutch grocer has partnered with logistics company DHL to handle the process. Starting early April, customers of Picnic are able to hand over the returns that should go to online retailers to the Picnic deliverer whenever the groceries are delivered. “The amount of parcels delivered is growing, but this way we can regulate the transport better and more efficient”, CEO Michiel Muller says. “Our deliverers are already driving nearby, so they can pick up the returns at customers’ homes, rather than someone from DHL having to make that trip”.
China: Hong Kong’s City’Super supermarket chain sale sparks strong interest
Investment groups China Resources and Yonghui Superstores, as well as some private individuals, are among potential buyers of Hong Kong’s City’Super high-end grocery chain. Current owner The Fenix Group is intending to sell a majority stake in the business in a deal that could attract US$300-400mln. The firm is likely to call for bids later this month or otherwise in early April, depending on the coronavirus outbreak situation at the time. Billionaire Peter Woo, who owns a minority stake in the business, is expected to hold on to his shares. Talks however remain at early stages and the deal may not eventually go ahead.
India: Flipkart applies for food-retailing licence
Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart has filed for approval from regulatory authorities to conduct food retail in the territory. According to a Times of India report, The Walmart-owned business has made the application with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade with the expectation of a decision within three months. The firm registered an online grocery business in October last year under the brand name Flipkart FarmerMart. According to reported figures, the firm will make an investment of ₹2,500 crore (US$338,000) in the venture. Initial plans will see the firm delivering customer purchases via local “kirana” stores partnering with the Flipkart business.
JD.com hires banks for a Hong Kong listing as early as mid-year: sources
E-commerce firm JD.com Inc has hired Bank of America and UBS to work on a second listing in Hong Kong, joining a queue of U.S.-listed Chinese firms with plans to follow Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in trading closer to home, two people with direct knowledge told Reuters. The listing could happen as early as mid-2020, said the people, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential. JD.com, which has a market capitalization of $58.2bln, declined to comment on its IPO prospects. The two investment banks involved in the deal also declined to comment.
Germany: Schwarz Group names Gerd Chrzanowski as new CEO
Schwarz Group, the parent company of Lidl and Kaufland, has named Gerd Chrzanowski as the new chief executive of the company, according to a report in the Lebensmittel Zeitung. Chrzanowski, who succeeds Klaus Gehrig, will assume his new role with immediate effect. Chrzanowski is an experienced professional, who served as a member of the Lidl executive board between 2008 to 2014. He then went on to lead the management of Schwarz Zentrale Dienste. In the spring of last year, the company appointed Chrzanowski as the deputy to Gehrig.