Grocery Outlet: First-quarter sales surged

Kroger: Blueprint

US: Northgate Market makes staying home easier
Northgate González Market has launched a bilingual multimedia platform to keep families safe and healthy at home as the nation continues to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. The grocer's Stay-at-Home Solutions is aimed at inspiring its customers to create unique and fun memories with their families at home. The platform will offer recipes, tips, activities and more. “During these uncertain times and more than ever, Northgate Market continues to be deeply committed to the communities we serve”, said Miguel Gonzalez, co-president of Northgate González Market. “Stay-at-Home Solutions will offer an array of fun and ideas for the family aimed at informing, educating and entertaining families while they are home safe”.

US: Pandemic shoppers cram Grocery Outlet
Grocery Outlet's first-quarter sales surged, but the company has hinted at slower near-term growth, while its private equity owner may be eyeing an exit. Just a few weeks after reporting impressive fourth-quarter sales, Grocery Outlet Holding Corp. announced preliminary financial results for its first quarter, and, unsurprisingly, they were robust as a result of pandemic-led demand. For the 13 weeks ended March 28, the company said that it expects net sales growth of 25.4% to $760.3mln, compared with $606.3mln for the 13 weeks ended March 30, 2019. Same-store sales growth is expected to be 17.4%, driven by increases in both the number of customer transactions and average transaction size as a result of COVID-19-related pantry loading.

US Foods announces $500mln convertible preferred equity investment from KKR
US Foods Holding Corp. announced that affiliates of KKR have agreed to purchase $500mln in newly issued convertible preferred stock of US Foods. “We are pleased to see KKR return as a shareholder of US Foods as we seek to further fortify our balance sheet during the current difficult environment,” said US Foods Chairman and CEO Pietro Satriano. “KKR will be a valuable partner for us as we continue to focus on our associates, customers, communities and shareholders as the impacts of COVID-19 unfold. This transaction positions us to continue to build on our strengths as the environment improves over time”.

US: Cub bucks trend, making 11 more stores open 24 hours
Cub is adding 24-hour service at 11 stores, as demand for groceries and essential household items continues to be strong during the coronavirus outbreak. Thirteen stores already are open round the clock, the grocery company said. "Consumers expect grocery stores to be there for them, and in times of a natural disaster, we're the last to close and the first to open", said Mike Stigers, chief executive of Cub. "That's a responsibility we take seriously, and that's why our work is essential now."

Canada: Sysco goes direct to consumers with new online grocery service
Canada’s largest supplier of restaurants and other food service businesses is expanding into e-commerce to sell directly to consumers for the first time in its history, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic shakes up food supply chains. Sysco Canada announced a new click-and-collect program called Sysco at Home in major cities across Canada. It will offer online orders for pick-up at 15 of its distribution centres. The website sells grocery items in bulk, such as produce, frozen products, meat and poultry, and other supplies. As with some other grocers’ programs, Sysco staff will load orders into customers’ trunks for them. Sysco is also offering delivery in the Greater Toronto Area, with plans to expand that service to other cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal in the coming weeks.

Kroger offers a Blueprint to help America's businesses plan to reopen safely
The Kroger Co. published the first instalment of "Sharing What We've Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses" to provide actionable recommendations for retailers, restaurants and food service companies, manufacturers, logistics and distribution centers and other industries to consider as they start crafting plans for safe work environments while the COVID-19 risk persists. "With nearly 2,800 grocery stores, 35 manufacturing plants, 44 distribution centers and 460,000 associates across the country, Kroger has learned and continues to learn a lot while keeping our stores and supply, chain open and serving America during the pandemic," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. 

Everything you need to know about Pinduoduo, the fast-growing rival to Alibaba and JD in China
U.S.-listed Pinduoduo (PDD) is now the third-largest e-commerce player behind Alibaba and in China. A large part of PDD’s appeal is the group buying function where the more people who buy a product leads to a lower price. The company recently issued new shares and also made its first major investment as it looks to expand. But JD and Alibaba have both launched rival products to PDD which could bring stiff competition to the smaller rival.

UK: New app tells you how long queues at supermarkets are and if they've run out of stock
With supermarket restrictions (rightly) becoming stricter to protect staff as well as customers, queues have been forming outside stores across the country meaning most don’t know when the best time is to shop and are often forced to add extra time onto any shopping trip. However, new app Supermarket Check In uses information provided by shoppers to give a clearer picture of how busy all of the major supermarkets - including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's - are, and even features information for other high street stores such as Aldi, Lidl and Iceland.

UK: Waitrose benefits from stockpiling but John Lewis facing tough times
The John Lewis Partnership has issued a trading update on its position during the coronavirus outbreak. While Waitrose has seen some benefit from increased demand for groceries, it is also seeing much higher costs. Meanwhile, the group warned that the John Lewis chain is facing a considerable decline in sales this year with moves underway to cut costs. Waitrose has seen its sales grow 8% since the end of its last financial year (26 January) as customers stockpiled cupboard essentials at the start of the crisis. Sales have increased in both its shops and online, although the group said that operating costs had increased too, especially as it expanded its online delivery service to meet surging demand. Waitrose has now increased its delivery capacity by 50%, which it highlighted puts it in a good position ahead of the ending of its contract with Ocado in September.

India: Amazon says pantry open in 64 cities
Amazon India has ramped up its grocery delivery service to 64 cities including Amritsar, Belagavi, Coimbatore, Lucknow and Salem, from 18 cities in less than four days, according to the company website. Amazon said it would prioritise deliveries of existing orders while new orders will be delivered in 5-8 days. Prior to the lockdown, Amazon was operating its Pantry business in 100 cities.

SPAR Oman introduces thermographic cameras for temperature checking
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, SPAR Oman has been reacting quickly to the situation and implemented a series of measures to secure the health and safety of its customers and colleagues. Most recently, they have adopted the use of thermographic cameras to carry out body temperature checks for customers entering the stores. In all SPAR stores, except SPAR Express outlets, thermographic cameras have been installed at the entrance to perform body temperature checks of customers entering the stores, thereby helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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