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Ocado has suspended its online food delivery service

Amazon: Australian revenue almost doubles

UK: Morrisons says coronavirus is 'unprecedented challenge'
British supermarket group Morrisons said it would play its part in feeding the nation during the coronavirus emergency but warned it was facing “unprecedented challenges and uncertainty”. Britain’s fourth biggest supermarket group said over the last two weeks there had been considerable stocking up and sales pull-forward as customers plan for the impact of the virus. That has driven a 5% year-on-year increase in retail like-for-like sales in the first six weeks of Morrisons’ 2020-21 financial year.

Żabka donates PLN4.5mln to tackle coronavirus pandemic in Poland
Polish retailer Żabka has announced that it has donated PLN4.5mln (€1.01mln) to the ministry of health to aid the government in handling coronavirus outbreak in the country. The company said that the safety and health of all Polish citizens is a priority and it recognises the need to collectively deal with the emergency. President of Żabka Polska, Tomasz Suchański commented: “We appreciate the engagement of healthcare professionals, ministries, and the units they supervise. For this reason, as a company, we decided to financially support the institutions that play a strategic role in solving the problems that concern us all”.

Holland: Parties call for ‘oldies hour’ in supermarkets, as panic buying boosts sales
The Liberal democratic party D66 and pensioner party 50Plus have called on supermarkets to introduce special opening times for older and more vulnerable shoppers, in the light of the coronavirus outbreak. ‘This would enable them to do their shopping calmly’, 50Plus leader Henk Krol said. The move would also allow the elderly to do their shopping while the shelves are relatively well stocked. In Belgium, for example, Delhaize is giving priority to pensioners between 8am and 9am and is limiting the number of shoppers in the stores. Delhaize is part of the Ahold Delhaize group which owns Albert Heijn. In the UK, British frozen food specialist Iceland is doing the same and similar measures have been taken in Australia. So far Dutch supermarkets have not adopted the idea, although a spokesman for the CBL food retailers association described it as ‘kind’.

Amazon almost doubles Australian revenue
Amazon in Australia has filed revenues of AU$562mln for 2019, an increase of 92.4% of the previous year, however it still hasn't made a profit. Having entered Australia in December 2017, the huge growth builds on the AU$292mln of revenue it reported in 2018, with Amazon Prime membership one of the major contributors to the increase. Prime membership grew from AU$4.3mln in 2018 to AU$35.4mln in 2019. Additional revenue from 'other related parties', which the retailer describes as services, grew AU$89mln to AU$247mln. However, despite the growth, Amazon still made a loss of AU$4.7mln, an improvement on its AU$5.3mln loss in 2018.

UK: Online shopping website Ocado suspends service
Online shopping delivery service Ocado has suspended its online food delivery service, blaming higher demand than it can meet. Ocado said existing customers with orders would still receive them. Meanwhile, supermarkets have introduced strict limits on how many goods people can buy to try to curb stockpiling as the coronavirus pandemic escalates. Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda will now stop shoppers buying more than three of any particular food item. Sainsbury's has also said it will prioritise vulnerable and elderly people for online deliveries. Ocado said it was experiencing "a simply staggering amount of traffic" to its website and more demand for products and deliveries than it could meet. "This temporary closure will allow us to complete essential work that will help to make sure distribution of products and delivery slots is as fair and accessible as possible for all our loyal customers," it added.

UK: Supermarkets ask Government to relax competition rules and allow sharing of staff
The Telegraph has learnt that supermarkets are calling on ministers to relax competition laws allowing rival stores to open on alternate days and share staff. The proposals would see food retailers, including the "big four", come together to maintain supplies. One suggestion by supermarkets is to introduce co-ordinated closures, where rival shops near to each other agree to open on alternate days, allowing them to restock more easily. Bosses are also in talks about sharing staff to prevent sudden store closures if large numbers of workers fall ill or have to self-isolate.

Couche-Tard still interested in Caltex Australia despite market collapse
Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard still wants to take over refiner and marketer Caltex Australia Ltd despite global market turmoil, Chief Executive Brian Hannasch said. Couche-Tard is “in the middle of our due diligence process, and we’ll get comfortable by applying our usual rigor and discipline around M&A,” Hannasch told analysts. Caltex’s shares have plunged about 40% since Couche-Tard raised its offer to A$8.8bln in mid-February and privately owned UK convenience store retailer EG Group made a rival offer of A$3.9bln in cash for its convenience stores plus shares in a spin-off company with its refining and fuel distribution assets.

Canada: P.E.I. premier speaks with Sobeys to understand impacts of coronavirus
The premier spoke with the executive vice-president, related businesses for Sobeys Inc. to understand fully the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) on the supply chain. Both Dennis King and Vivek Sood recognized that food and pharmacy offerings are critical and essential to all Canadians and the need to continue to do what we can to make sure access to these products are available. Sood updated the premier on the unprecedented demand for product and the continued need to ensure a level of open borders - provincially and nationally - to ensure the chain of supply can continue.

US: Grocery apps see record downloads during coronavirus outbreak
Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have seen respectively 218%, 160%, and 124% increases in average daily downloads compared to the previous month, according to research from Apptopia. This past Sunday was a record for each app, according to the report. Target also saw a 98% jump in average daily downloads on Sunday over the average daily download in February, per Apptopia's findings. But as grocery ordering apps rise in average daily downloads, food delivery apps have seen a decline amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The daily downloads of popular ordering apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates declined from about 240,000 as of Feb. 15 to about 190,000 on Sunday, the company also found.

US: Asian grocer leverages outbreak opportunity
Fast-growing Asian supermarket chain iFresh has made a key move to position itself as an innovator during the COVID-19 outbreak. The grocer has entered into an agreement to acquire 70% of equity interests in Xiamen DL Medical Technology Co. Ltd., a company specializing in the technology, manufacturing and distribution of medical and non-medical protective masks and other related goods. Pursuant to the terms of the purchase agreement, the company shall pay Xiamen DL $600,000 in cash and issue 900,000 shares of common stock of the company in consideration for the 70% equity interests in Xiamen DL. The closing of the acquisition is subject to customary terms and conditions as set forth in the agreement.

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