Co-op and Nisa: Hive

Kesko Group: All-time best first-quarter results

UK: Waitrose names former Sainsbury's director James Bailey as new boss
Britain’s John Lewis Partnership has appointed James Bailey, a former director of Sainsbury’s, to be the new boss of its upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, it said. Bailey, who spent 18 years at Sainsbury’s, latterly as buying director, was named as executive director Waitrose, succeeding Rob Collins who left the group earlier this year following a restructuring of the employee-owned partnership’s management. He will start immediately, tasked with steering Waitrose through the coronavirus crisis.

Australia: Woolworths gets virus stockpiling surge but costs mount
Australian grocer Woolworths Group Ltd reported a sales leap in the March quarter thanks to stockpiling related to the country’s coronavirus shutdown, but warned the stampede was slowing and costs were mounting. The company said supermarket sales rose 11.3% to A$11.2bln ($7.3bln) in the three months to end-March from a year earlier, as panicked shoppers stacked trolleys with rice, pasta, toilet paper and cleaning products ahead of a nationwide stay-home order.

Finland: Kesko reports all-time high Q1 results amid epidemic
Retail giant Kesko Group said it recorded its all-time best first-quarter results, despite the negative effects that the coronavirus epidemic have posed, according to a company stock exchange release. Kesko reported comparable operating profits of 65.1mln euros during Q1 this year, compared to 57.5mln euros the same quarter last year. The firm estimated that overall operating profits for all of 2020 will be around 400-500mln euros, saying the projection falls “somewhat short” of the previous year’s profits of 461.6mln euros.

Russian food discounter Mere expands further into Europe
In Germany, Russian discount supermarket chain Mere has opened its third store: the low-budget formula can now be found in the city of Halle. Earlier, the food discounter established itself in Leipzig and Zwickau. After almost a year of stagnation, Siberian parent company Torgservis seems to be continuing its expansion in Europe, reports Lebensmittel Zeitung. Mere now also has plans in Lithuania and Poland, with announced openings "early 2020". The group is also expanding further in Belarus: Torgservis took its first steps outside Russia in 2017, under the name Svetofor ('traffic light' in Russian). Meanwhile, there are more than 30 branches.

UK: Sainsbury's boss says coronavirus disruption will last until mid-September
The boss of Sainsbury’s has said disruption from the coronavirus outbreak will last until at least mid-September, and that physically distanced queues are likely to remain “for the foreseeable future”. Mike Coupe, the chief executive of the UK’s second-largest supermarket chain, said the retailer would take a £500mln profit hit from the costs of keeping staff and customers safe from the virus, such as by providing protective kit and covering absences for up to a quarter of its staff who had been off sick or self-isolating in the early days of the pandemic. Coupe said about 15% of staff were still absent.

India: Flipkart and Meru join hands to deliver essentials, groceries to consumers
E-commerce firm Flipkart has joined hands with cab service Meru amidst Covid-19 lockdown to deliver essential products and groceries to consumers. This is done to encourage users to stay at home and maintain social distance by not going outside their houses during the pandemic. The service has been kicked off in select cities and regions including Bengaluru, Delhi NCR and Hyderabad “through the safe & sanitized supply chain.”

UK: Co-op and Nisa launch supplier insights portal - Hive
Convenience retailer Co-op and its wholesale subsidiary Nisa have joined forces with leading customer loyalty specialist, IRI and its wholesale arm, SalesOut, to launch Hive – a cutting-edge new insights portal which will enable even closer collaboration between buyers and suppliers. The online platform, which is set to be the most comprehensive multi-channel solution of its kind in Europe, integrates multiple data sets to provide intelligence across a variety of sectors including category sales performance, ranging, supply chain, pricing and customer behaviour. It will encompass activity across the Co-op’s 2,500 UK stores along with Nisa’s 2,500 local, independently owned outlets.

France: Retailer Carrefour first quarter sales growth accelerates, keeps goals
Carrefour said that revenue growth accelerated in the first quarter, reflecting strong food sales in March in all its markets and notably in the core French market as people stayed at home due to coronavirus lockdowns. Carrefour, Europe’s largest food retailer by sales, said it was sticking to its financial and operational targets under its 2022 strategy plan to boost sales and profits. “We are living a defining moment in our sector. This crisis underscores the relevance of Carrefour’s strategy”, Chief Executive Alexandre Bompard told analysts. First quarter sales reached 19.445bln euros ($21.07bln), driven by a solid performance in January and February and stockpiling by households in March ahead of coronavirus lockdown measures in all the group’s countries.

China: applies for $3 bln Hong Kong secondary listing - sources
Chinese e-commerce retailer is pressing ahead with plans for a secondary listing in Hong Kong within the next few months despite the coronavirus pandemic still roiling financial markets, said sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The Nasdaq-listed company has confidentially made an application to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to list as soon as June, in a deal that could raise at least $3bln, which would be the largest equity capital market transaction in Hong Kong this year, they said. did not immediately respond for a request to comment. The sources did not want to be named because the information has not been made public.

US: Online grocery sales jump 37% in April
Home delivery and store pickup online grocery sales reached a new 30-day record for April, hitting $5.3bln and marking a 37% increase from $4bln in March, according to the latest Brick Meets Click and Symphony RetailAI Online Grocery Survey. Strategic advisory firm Brick Meets Click said the month-over-month sales growth reflects a 33% increase in the monthly number of online orders, from 46.9mln to 62.5mln, plus a 3% gain in order size - from $82 to $85 - as households continue stock-up purchases of essential products. The Brick Meets Click/Symphony RetailAI poll was conducted April 22 to 25.

Canada: Loblaw profit and sales up as customers stockpiled supplies
Loblaw Companies Ltd. reported its first-quarter profit rose compared with a year ago as shoppers stockpiled supplies due to the pandemic, however it said costs also rose as it ramped up spending to protect its workers and customers. The company, which owns Loblaws grocery stores and the Shoppers Drug Mart chain, says it earned a profit attributable to common shareholders of $240mln for the 12-week period ended March 21. That compared with a profit of $198mln in the same quarter last year. Revenue totalled $11.8bln, up from nearly $10.7bln in the first quarter of 2019. Food retail same-stores sales rose 9.6%, while drug retail same-store sales climbed 10.7% as pharmacy same-store sales rose 10.6% and front store same-store sales gained 10.7%.

An unprecedented coalition of Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, Target, Instacart, and Whole Foods workers is planning to strike over pandemic working conditions
A coalition of workers from Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, Target, Instacart, and Whole Foods is going on strike Friday to protest working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, The Intercept first reported. The workers say their employers, all of which have stayed open during the pandemic as “essential” businesses, have seen profits skyrocket at the expense of their health and safety. Workers from several of the companies have previously organized walkouts or publicly criticized their companies’ efforts to protect them from COVID-19, but the coalition is unprecedented.

US: Blue Apron fails to see COVID-19 sales bump, yet
Blue Apron has released its first quarter financials and results are mixed. On one hand, first quarter net revenue decreased 28% year-over-year to $101.9mln, and the company reported a net loss of $20.1mln, likely the reason stock prices sunk Wednesday morning. On the other hand, net revenue increased 8% and customers increased 7% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The meal kit service says it's seeing a significant increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started near the end of the first quarter, as many stay-at-home orders and restaurant restrictions are in place throughout the country.

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