Casino and Intermarché: Partial EU antitrust victory

Aldi Nord is planning to boost its position in Portugal

Spain: Eroski reports profit of €48mln in first half of 2020
Spanish retailer Eroski has posted a profit of €48mln in the first half of its financial year ended 31 July 2020. The retailer reported a 7.2% year-on-year growth in sales to €2.4bln in this period, driven by an increase in activity in the food sector. Food sales in the company grew by 12% due to the pandemic and subsequent increase in the popularity of proximity stores.

Russia: X5 Retail Group introduces speech bots at grocery chains
X5 Retail Group, a leading Russian food retailer that operates the Pyaterochka, Perekrestok and Karusel retail chains, has begun to implement a robotic telephone platform. The system, which uses speech technology to carry out various business functions, is a proprietary development of the X5 Big Data department. The project also uses Yandex SpeechKit technology, part of the Yandex.Cloud online services platform. X5 voice assistants are already helping the company’s retail chains to handle incoming calls and make outgoing calls without human intervention. Voice assistants simulate dialogue with customers and help to resolve their issues. The bot has more than 300 different phrases in its arsenal, with new conversation scripts created within a single day. Most callers say they feel no difference between talking to a person and a bot.

Partial EU antitrust win for French supermarkets Casino and Intermarché
French supermarket groups Casino and Intermarché won a partial victory in their fight against an EU antitrust raid and demand for information into a buying alliance after Europe's second-top court said regulators failed to prove wrongdoing. The supermarkets’ challenge against the European Commission underlined the recent willingness of companies to fight what they say are excessive demands and regulatory overreach by the EU competition enforcer. “The Commission has failed to show that it had sufficiently strong evidence to suspect exchanges of information concerning the future commercial strategies of the undertakings”, judges said.

UK: New Iceland branch preparing to welcome first visitors at Sunderland's The Range
Final preparations are being made as a new branch of Iceland prepares to open within Sunderland’s The Range store. The Range in Silksworth is due to open a branch of Iceland within the store next Friday, October 16. In addition to its existing homeware items across 16 departments, with a family café and outdoor garden centre, the store will begin selling the complete Iceland offering. This includes fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and store cupboard staples.

Aldi to expand store count, logistics footprint in Portugal
Aldi Nord is planning to boost its position in the Portuguese market, with the opening of a new distribution centre as well as a number of new outlets. The German discounter is investing €60mln in a new logistics area in Moita with 50,000 square metres of space, with work due to be completed in early 2022, reports Jornal de Negocios. At the same time, Aldi Portugal is looking for a location for another warehouse in the north of the country, to supply the more than 100 shops it plans to open by the end of 2025, in this part of Portugal. The planned investment on this centre is approximately €45mln.

Ireland: Buymie and Dunnes team up for Dublin and Cork delivery service
Online grocery delivery provider Buymie has announced a new partnership with Dunnes Stores, which will see the launch of a personal grocery shopping service to over 680,000 households in both Dublin and Cork. The new service in 24 Dunnes Stores across Dublin and Cork will allow Dunnes Stores customers to select groceries and book a same day delivery slot.

UK: New model gives independent operators freedom to run and develop Blakemore Retail outlets
Blakemore Retail has launched a new system giving independent operators the freedom to develop sales and profits at company-owned outlets. The Spar outlet in Leominster, Herefordshire, has become the first in the Blakemore Retail estate to be run by what the company is calling a ‘commission operator’. The site is now being operated by MIH Traders, owned by Dasitha Gamage and Janaka Watowita, who have taken over from Blakemore Retail although the company still owns the store.

Australia: Woolworths delivers $12mln Townsville Distribution Centre expansion to strengthen supply chain resilience in North Queensland
Woolworths has unveiled its newly upgraded Townsville Regional Distribution Centre (DC) following the completion of a $12mln expansion. At 10,416 square metres, the DC is now more than double its original footprint and Woolworths has hired an additional 30 team members to help boost its capacity to service local stores in Townsville and Far North Queensland. The DC services 39 Woolworths supermarkets spanning from Sarina to Weipa - delivering fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, eggs, milk and groceries from hundreds of suppliers, who have generously supported better local range availability for North Queensland customers.

US: Natural Grocers debuts virtual nutrition program
Natural Grocers is expanding its free nutrition education program, which is customarily in-person, to include a virtual guest presenter series and online personalized coaching sessions with the company's nutritional health coaches (NHCs). NHCs will offer their expertise via free one-hour phone or video coaching sessions. Shoppers who live in a state with a Natural Grocers' store can fill out a form to request their coaching session and receive personalized care tailored to their individual needs, as well as a collaborative plan for success.

ALDI U.S. recognized by EPA for Environmental Milestones
Thanks to its ongoing commitment to reduce overall environmental impact, ALDI recently received the 2020 Green Power Leadership Award and a 2019 GreenChill Store Certification, as well as a Re-Certification Excellence Award for select stores, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "We are proud to receive these honorable recognitions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency", said Aaron Sumida, vice president, ALDI. "As one of America's largest retailers, it's important for ALDI to prioritize our adoption of green power usage across our operations, showing others that it's an affordable, accessible choice that can help reduce air pollution and other emissions. We look forward to continuing our sustainability journey by taking intentional and strategic steps to make our stores and warehouses more environmentally friendly".

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