Sainsbury’s will temporarily close 12 convenience stores

Casino: Suspending its financial guidance for 2020

UK: Asda extends pay support for colleagues through Covid-19
Asda has announced that it is extending its support for colleagues who are impacted by Covid-19 and needing to self-isolate. In addition to providing full pay to colleagues who have been identified by Government as needing to self-isolate for 12 weeks, the supermarket has also confirmed that it will be taking further steps to protect colleagues impacted by Covid-19 by offering fully paid leave to colleagues who are vulnerable - eg over 70 or pregnant - as well as the carers of extremely vulnerable people.

UK: Supermarkets to let only 10 people in at a time to tackle coronavirus threat
Supermarkets will be limiting the amount of people allowed in their shops to as few as 10, new guidelines showed. Blanket guidance from Public Health England for supermarkets on social distancing measures will be provided shortly. Tesco has released detailed information for all its store managers, with 10 people allowed at a time in the chain's smaller shops, and 300 in its superstores. A Waitrose source told The Telegraph that the company was testing capacity limits, with 25 people allowed in smaller stores and 75 in big supermarkets.

New Zealand: 'Essential' supermarket workers should be paid more during outbreak, union says
Supermarket workers who are required to work through the Covid-19 outbreak lockdown should be paid more for doing so, their union says. Supermarkets are one of the essential services allowed to continue to operate while most of the rest of the economy shuts down for at least four weeks. They have introduced measures to help keep staff safe, such as Perspex screens to protect them, protective clothing. Stores are also limiting the number of customers they allow in. But Tali Williams, retail secretary at First Union, said supermarket employees deserved to be paid more for their work during this period. Many are on low wages - although Countdown has pledged to move most of its staff to at least $21.15 an hour from this September.

Sam’s Club to launch China flagship
Sam’s Club, a members only warehouse retailer owned by US retail giant Walmart, is set to open a flagship in Shanghai. The 70,000sqm Waigaoqiao Xin Development Park-based store will be Sam’s Club’s third location in the city and will bolster competition against rival Costco. “We are excited to add the flagship outlet into our rapidly expanding footprint,” said Sam’s Club China president Andrew Miles. “It is a testimony to our commitment to our members and China - and the tremendous trust and loyalty local shoppers have shown in recent years motivates us to keep rewarding and surprising our members”.

France: Casino suspends guidance due to coronavirus crisis
French retailer Casino, battling investor concern over its high debt and weak cash position, said it was suspending its financial guidance for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Casino also said it had achieved a 2019 group operating profit of 1.292bln euros ($1.41bln), down 3.1% at constant exchange rates. Its share price fell 4%. It said it would aim to keep costs and capital expenditure under control and push on with its asset disposal plan to reduce debt. “We cannot reiterate our financial guidance in an economic climate that is so uncertain. But we stay mobilized regarding all our objectives such as cost cuts, inventories, or capex”, Finance Director David Lubek said on a call.

Sweden: Coop adds delivery slots for online orders for the elderly
Coop Sweden has announced that it has added delivery slots for elderly online shoppers to ensure that everyone has access to food during the coronavirus crisis. The retailer has allotted specific delivery slots for shoppers above the age of 70 from 24 March. It will allow the elderly to order online and have groceries delivered to their doorsteps. Following the coronavirus outbreak, the company has witnessed a significant increase in online orders, which has resulted in longer than usual waiting periods for delivering orders.

Nobody will starve in coronavirus crisis, says chairman of Britain's Ocado
There is no shortage of food in Britain and nobody will starve during the coronavirus emergency, said the chairman of online supermarket Ocado who believes he himself has been infected. Britain’s supermarket sector is dealing with unprecedented demand during the outbreak as consumers stock-up, fearing a prolonged period of isolation, while schools, pubs, cafes and restaurants have been forced to close. “The first thing is ‘don’t panic’. There isn’t going to be no food tomorrow”, Stuart Rose told BBC radio. “Nobody will starve”.

UK: Sainsbury's to close 12 convenience stores
British supermarket group Sainsbury’s said it will temporarily close 12 convenience stores at locations experiencing extremely low shopper numbers during the coronavirus outbreak, such as at railway stations. “These are stores that have seen significantly fewer customers in recent days as people are working from home”, said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman. “All colleagues will move to neighbouring stores until these stores re-open,” she added. The group trades from over 600 supermarkets and about 00 convenience stores in Britain.

Ara to open around 130 new stores in Colombia in 2020
Portuguese retail group Jerónimo Martins, owner of Colombia-based discount chain Ara, recently announced its 2019 results and detailed plans to open 130 new Ara stores in 2020. The business launched in Colombia just seven years ago and closed 2019 with 616 stores, with 85 (84 net) openings in 2019. Ara reported total revenue of €784mln (US$848mln) for 2019, a 30.8% annual growth. Like-for-like sales were up an impressive 17.6% (+27.9% in Q4), which it said was driven by strong price investment and the assertiveness of its offer. Ara’s performance was also supported by the macroeconomic conditions in Colombia. GDP was up by 3.3%, compared to a 0.1% average in the region. There were increases to the national minimum wage and private consumption, which supported growth too.

US: Grocery Outlet sees strong finish to fiscal year
Grocery Outlet Holding Corp. topped Wall Street’s earnings forecast for its 2019 fourth quarter and fiscal year, with net sales climbing by double digits in both periods. For the fourth quarter ended December 28, 2019, net sales surged 12% to $655.5mln from $585.2mln a year earlier. Same-store sales rose 5.1%, compared with a 4.1% year-over-year gain in the fiscal 2018 quarter. The 53-week fiscal year saw similar growth, with net sales up 11.9% to $2.56bln from $2.29bln in 2018. Comparable-store sales advanced 5.2% versus the 3.9% increase reported for the previous fiscal year.

US: ASA, RILA offer staffing resource
The American Staffing Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association have teamed up to help fill the many openings for retail workers at essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies so that they can continue to provide much-needed services during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASA now provides an online, searchable directory to link RILA member retailers to ASA member staffing agencies that can fill such in-demand jobs as warehouse workers; store clerks for unloading, stocking, cleaning and sanitizing; cashiers and greeters; forklift selectors and pickers; and delivery drivers. The directory can also be found on the RILA COVID-19 resources for retailers website.

US: Lidl to hire up to 1,000 temporary employees to help meet customer needs during public health emergency
To help meet the surging needs of customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Lidl US announced it will hire up to 1,000 temporary employees across its store network and distribution centers for a minimum of two months. A listing of all the newly available positions at Lidl US can be found at Under a first-in-the industry policy designed with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the newly hired employees without health insurance will immediately be eligible for medical benefits covering testing and treatment related to COVID-19 at no cost. Current Lidl US employees enrolled in company insurance plans will automatically receive the enhanced medical benefits package, which waives copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles and includes virtual visits through the CareFirst Video Visit platform. There will be no waiting time to receive the insurance.

Amazon adding more grocery delivery capacity during surge in online orders
Amazon is working to beef up delivery capacity and pick-up options for its Amazon Fresh grocery service and Whole Foods markets during the coronavirus pandemic, to help more people get food to their homes, the company said. As most of the US is asked to stay home during the health crisis, food delivery providers have been inundated with new orders, making it harder for customers to snag delivery slots and harder for grocers to keep high-demand items from going out of stock.

US: Kroger pilots pickup-only store in Cincinnati area
The Kroger Co. is testing a pickup-only store in greater Cincinnati in response to higher demand for click-and-collect service during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The dedicated pickup service is offered at the Kroger supermarket at 4630 Aicholtz Rd. in Mount Carmel, Ohio, east of Cincinnati. In-store shopping isn’t available at the location, as store associates are focused on fulfilling online grocery pickup orders, Kroger said. To use the service, customers order groceries online as usual at or via the Kroger mobile app and then select the Mount Carmel Kroger as their preferred pickup location. Pickup hours at the stores are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

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