FreshDirect: Partnership alliance

Metro is extending its $2-per-hour-wage increase

US: Fresh Thyme steps up pandemic safety efforts
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has joined other grocers such as The Kroger Co. and Publix Super Markets that have taken steps to promote social distancing and keep shoppers and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief among them are regular health checks for Fresh Thyme employees. When they arrive at work, they will undergo temperature screenings and other checks to make sure they are healthy enough to work - and that they don’t pose an obvious risk of spreading the virus to other associates and shoppers.

US: BJ’s offers dedicated shopping hours for first responders, medical workers
BJ’s Wholesale Club announced that all 218 of its membership warehouse clubs in the Eastern United States, locations will have an “Appreciation Hour” for first responders and healthcare workers. During this designated time period - from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Sundays - first responders and healthcare workers can shop in BJ’s locations without a membership. “We are incredibly grateful for everything that our first responders and healthcare workers are doing to keep our communities safe and healthy”, said Lee Delaney, president and CEO of Westborough, Massachusetts-based BJ’s Wholesale Club. “We’re proud to offer a designated shopping hour to first responders and healthcare workers as a small way to say thank you for their hard work and dedication”.

Canada: Metro extends $2-per-hour wage increase
Metro is extending its $2-per-hour-wage increase until May 30, as employees continue to work on the front lines of the CVOID-19 pandemic. The Quebec-based grocer said the extension would impact approximately 50,000 employees working across its food stores and distribution centres. The increase was originally effective retroactively from March 8 and until May 2. “The particular circumstances that led us to make this decision have not changed and we are therefore maintaining this temporary measure”, said Eric La Flèche, Metro’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

US: FreshDirect to sell meals from Restaurant Associates
FreshDirect has begun carrying a selection of prepared meals under a partnership with caterer and on-site dining management firm Restaurant Associates. The New York-based online grocer said that the alliance expands its offerings in the prepared food category, allowing the company to serve more customers with ready-to-eat meals that only require heating. At the same time, the initiative provides employment for Restaurant Associates cooks displaced by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many restaurant and foodservice businesses to temporarily shut down and lay off workers.

US: Dollar General takes on Pacific Northwest food retailers
Residents of Washington state can expect to see a lot of black and yellow in the coming years as Dollar General has opened the first of what will presumably be hundreds of locations bearing the company’s signature colors. Dollar General opened its first store in Washington in the small town of Cathlamet on the banks of the Columbia River west of Portland, Oregon, as part of an ongoing push into the northwest. Six additional locations are under construction in the state and are part of massive new store opening plan for 2020. Grocers should take note as 78% of discount retailer's 2019 sales of $27.7bln came from food and consumables.

Couche-Tard shelves $5.6bln Caltex Australia buyout as deal becomes latest virus victim
Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc’s buyout of petrol station operator Caltex Australia Ltd has become the latest victim of the coronavirus outbreak, as fuel demand plunges and as companies look inward to get through the crisis. The decision means the Canadian firm’s proposed $8.8lbn ($5.6bln) deal is the biggest buyout of an Australian company to be squashed by the impact of the virus.

Poland: Carrefour expands customer services during COVID-19
Carrefour Polska has announced that it will implement additional services in its stores to enhance customers’ shopping experience during the coronavirus pandemic. These include the expansion of the retailer's ‘Click & Collect’ service, the option of courier delivery, a telephone-based shopping option, as well as a ‘Scan & Go’ service.

Russia: Online video monitoring system helps maintain social distancing at X5’s Perekrestok stores
X5 Retail Group, a leading Russian food retailer, is developing a project that uses video analytics to monitor checkout queues at its Perekrestok supermarkets. On the basis of tests conducted in 55 supermarkets in Moscow and St Petersburg, X5 will launch a new service for customers that offers online monitoring of the number of people standing in checkout queues at Perekrestok stores. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, this service gives every customer the opportunity to monitor queues in real time and choose the best hours for visiting a store to maintain social distancing. The project is being carried out in partnership with Yandex.

“Young & Urban by SPAR” brings new trends to Austrian shoppers
As part of the “Young & Urban by SPAR” umbrella brand, customers can now find around 400 cutting-edge products from 35 creative Austrian start-ups in the food and non-food sector offered exclusively at SPAR, EUROSPAR, and INTERSPAR stores. The most recent additions are sugar-free Mabura drinks from Carinthia and PepupLife sprout bags from Vienna. The promotion of innovative and unique ideas has become an integral part of SPAR Austria’s philosophy. Inventiveness, combined with high-quality products, not only convince the experts at SPAR, but also SPAR customers in the 1,500 stores found across the country. Behind the brands are great entrepreneurs who put a lot of passion into the development and marketing of their products.

UK: Coronavirus prompts Booths to launch click-and-collect service
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted Booths to launch a next day click-and-collect service for the first time. The service aims to help customers have safer access to groceries during the pandemic. The northern grocery chain said customers can choose from than 150 products to order online, although a Booths staff member would take payment over the phone. Customers can then arrange to have the goods collected either in-store as early as the next day or brought to their vehicle.

UK: Sainsbury’s unveils volunteer shopping cards to help people self-isolating
Sainsbury’s has become the latest supermarket to launch e-gift cards to make it easier for people to shop on behalf of the elderly and vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak. Customers can purchase the cards online and select how much they’d like to spend on their weekly shop, between £5 and £250. The e-gift card will then be emailed directly to the person shopping on their behalf and it can be redeemed at checkout in store. Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “During this challenging time, it’s more important than ever that we come together as a community. That includes supporting those who are kindly helping others to get the essential items they need. Our Volunteer Shopping Card will make it as easy as possible for our customers to do so”.

France: Carrefour halves dividend due to coronavirus outbreak
Carrefour, Europe’s largest retailer, said it was halving its 2019 dividend to 0.23 euros per share and that CEO Alexandre Bompard would waive 25% of his fixed salary for a period of two months due to the coronavirus outbreak. Bompard has also proposed freezing the fixed salaries of all group executive committee members for the whole of 2020, and has asked them to waive 10% of their fixed salaries for a period of two months, corresponding to the peak of the crisis, the French retailer said in a statement.

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