UK: Lidl reveals hopes for opening new supermarkets Budget supermarket giant Lidl has set out aspirational plans to open six new stores across south Essex. The retailer could potentially open stores across Basildon, Billericay and Wickford, as well as more central parts of Southend, Rayleigh and Rochford, with each area marked by company as “desired locations”. This comes after planning permission was given for a new Lidl to be built on the corner of Luckyn Lane and Miles Gray Road, in Basildon, with the budget supermarket chain beginning to take the county by storm.
India: Reliance may buy Future Retail
Indian conglomerate Future Group is holding discussions with Reliance Industries to sell off its retail and supply-chain operations. The firm is said to be seeking a valuation of US$1.3bln for the business segment, which is expected to boost Reliance’s already-strong foothold in Indian retail. While neither side has made official media statements about the prospective deal, a spokesperson from Reliance did state that: “We have made and will continue to make necessary disclosures in compliance with our obligations under the Securities Exchange Board of India … and our agreements with the stock exchanges”.
UK: Morrisons faces shareholder revolt over executive salaries
Morrisons has seen over a third of its investors vote against its pay policy at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Investors expressed concern after Morrisons chief executive David Potts and chief operating officer Trevor Strain received generous pension deals. The UK corporate governance code says executive pension contributions should be in line with those of the workforce, but while Potts and Strain bank payments worth 24% of their basic salaries, the majority of shop floor staff receive 5%.
UK: Ocado boosts firepower with 1bln pounds capital raise
Ocado, the British online supermarket and technology group, plans to raise 1bln pounds ($1.3bln), giving it more firepower to capitalise on the rapid growth of the online grocery market triggered by the coronavirus crisis. The group said it would raise about 657mln pounds through an equity placing and retail offer and about 350mln pounds through the issue of guaranteed senior unsecured convertible bonds due 2027.
UK: Iceland supermarket adopts all Chester Zoo penguins and lobbies government to help it survive
Supermarket giant Iceland has adopted Chester Zoo's entire rookery of Humboldt penguins by way of lending support to the attraction, which is currently facing an uncertain future. The frozen food retailer has also agreed to lobby the UK government on the zoo’s behalf, encouraging current legislation to be amended to allow zoos to open with strict social distancing guidance in place.
France: Alkemics raises €21mln to take its supplier-retailer platform across Europe
Paris-based startup Alkemics, a platform enabling brands to launch products with retailers, has raised €21mln in a Series C funding round, as it experiences soaring demand from grocers and suppliers responding to the rapid shift to omnichannel shopping. Alkemics (2011) is a supplier platform for omnichannel retailers. Since raising €20mln in 2016, it has worked with France and the UK’s largest grocery retailers (including E.Leclerc, Intermarché, Casino, Tesco and Ocado) to digitise their commercial processes with more than 17,000 brands. The platform connects retailers like Intermarché and Tesco to multinational suppliers such as Nestlé, as well as small local producers. In 2019, more than 7.5mln messages were exchanged through the platform.
UK: Retailer B&M says it's better placed than most to cope with Covid-19
British discount retailer B&M reported a 3.2% increase in full year profit and said it was better positioned and more resilient than most to deal with the Covid-19 world. The group, which sells everything from furniture to electricals to food, said its core strength in everyday essentials, a well-invested infrastructure, strong value credentials, and a modern and convenient store network with continuing opportunities in both the United Kingdom and France meant it was still well placed to grow. B&M made a pretax profit of £252mln (€281mln) in the year to March 28, on revenue up 16.5% to £3.8bln (€4.24bln). Its full year dividend increased 6.6% to 8.1 pence.
UK: Booths partners with Deliveroo
Booths is teaming up with Deliveroo to offer home delivery service in as little as 30 minutes. Customers can now order from a wide range of grocery products from the Deliveroo app or website and can have them delivered to their front door, contact-free. This service is currently only available in Booths, MediaCityUK store. However, the retailer plans to roll this out to more stores soon. The delivery service charge is free with a minimum of £15 order value and service charge of £0.49p per order.
Holland-UK: Just Eat Takeaway acquires Grubhub
Just Eat Takeaway, the Dutch-British meal delivery company, has acquired Grubhub, a food delivery service from the US. It’s an extra interesting acquisition from Just Eat Takeaway: competitor Uber Eats had also been trying to acquire Grubhub. Just Eat Takeaway.com stating it is to acquire 100% of the shares of Grubhub for a value of 6.4bln euros. The combined operation will have over 70mln active customers globally and according to Just Eat TakeAway this will make it the world’s largest online food delivery company outside of China. "The combined group will be built around 4 of the world’s largest profit pools in online food delivery: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany", it says.
Walmart's Mexico business set to absorb two internal units
The Mexican unit of U.S. retailer Walmart said a shareholder meeting would discuss the absorption of two internal units, Holding de Restaurantes y Servicios and Tiendas Wal-Mart. In a filing to the Mexican stock exchange, Walmart de Mexico said the operation would be part of corporate restructuring and would not involve any third parties.
US: Cub Foods & Shoppers stores to be spun off from UNFI
United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) plans to spin off its Cub Foods and Shoppers supermarkets as a stand-alone unit, following a decision to hold off on the pending sale of the stores amid the coronavirus crisis. UNFI picked up Cub Foods and Shoppers with its $2.9bln acquisition of Supervalu, which closed in October 2018. Supervalu already had been divesting its retail grocery stores, and the process continued under UNFI as the two companies integrated. Last month, however, UNFI said it would put the sale of the chains on hold for 12 to 18 months so the stores could continue providing customers with groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
US: Union protests escalate push for grocery chain to extend hazard pay
Union workers for Kroger Company in West Virginia and Virginia staged a car caravan demonstration to urge the grocery giant to reinstate hazard pay while the coronavirus pandemic continues. The supermarket chain quietly last month ended its $2 an hour "hero pay" and replaced it with a one-time "thank you" bonus, which will be paid out next week. In a statement, a Kroger spokeswoman said the company has invested more than $800mln "to reward and safeguard associates since March". She added that Kroger will continue to safeguard employees while "running a sustainable business that provides steady employment for over half a million associates."
US: Instacart lands $225mln in new funding
Instacart said it has raised $225mln in new financing amid an “unprecedented surge” in consumer demand for online grocery delivery and pickup services since the COVID-19 outbreak. Led by DST Global and General Catalyst, along with the participation of existing investor D1 Capital Partners, the investment hoisted Instacart’s valuation to $13.7bln, the San Francisco-based e-grocery specialist said.
US: Walmart's Sam's Club rolls out nationwide curbside pickup
Sam’s Club announced it will implement curbside pickup at nearly 600 locations nationwide by the end of June in a move similar to what fellow retailers have done to better manage store volume during the coronavirus pandemic. While the new service will be free for plus-level members, the company said it would make it temporarily available for every member at no extra cost.