Canadians regard Walmart as the country’s biggest champion of diversity and inclusion

Farmstead coming to the East Coast

US: J.C. Penney sale talks stall - Bloomberg News
Talks between J.C. Penney Co's lenders and the would-be buyers, Simon Property Group Inc and Brookfield Property Partners LP, broke down in recent days, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the negotiations. Simon Property and Brookfield Property, which are also the retailer’s two biggest landlords, missed several deal deadlines as communication between the parties lapsed, according to the report.

US: Farmstead coming to Charlotte, North Carolina
Online grocer Farmstead has opened the waitlist for its November launch in the highly competitive Charlotte, North Carolina, market. Sign-ups will be limited to the first 1,000 customers. “We are thrilled to make the Carolinas our first expansion market and bring Farmstead to the East Coast”, noted Pradeep Elankumaran, co-founder and CEO of Burlingame, California-based Farmstead, which got its start in the also competitive Bay Area. “Stay-at-home directives made it clear that online grocery should be a utility in this day and age - it should be cheaper and more convenient than going to the store with no fees, and the best local and national products delivered right to your doorstep”.

Walmart Canada tops diversity and inclusivity study
Canadians regard Walmart as the country’s biggest champion of diversity and inclusion, according to a new survey conducted by Toronto’s Solutions Research Group (SRG) for phase one of its new Diversity & Inclusion Monitor. The results are based on a survey of 1,350 Canadians conducted in July, in which respondents were asked to identify the companies or brands they regard as leaders in diversity and inclusion on a top-of-mind basis. SRG also conducted follow-up interviews with 420 consumers in September that drilled down further on the preliminary findings.

Alibaba Group and Israeli shipper Zim partner on sea freight
Alibaba Group Holdings and Israeli shipping group Zim have entered a strategic cooperation agreement for the direct purchase of sea freight, which will improve logistic services to merchants selling on Alibaba, Zim said. Zim will provide sea freight and services through a direct interface with the e-commerce giant’s logistics platform.

UAE: Abu Dhabi's ADQ to partner LuLu in $1bln investment drive into Egypt
Abu Dhabi's ADQ will be supporting hypermarket operator LuLu International's Egypt expansion through a newly struck non-binding agreement, with an investment of up to $1bln. The two will work to develop up to 30 hypermarkets and 100 express mini-market stores as well as distribution and fulfilment centres. The combination expects to create up to 12,000 jobs.

Holland: One candidate left for Hema acquisition
Only Parcom remains in the race for Hema: the Dutch investor pulled it off opposing candidate Alteri. Parcom receives the support of the Van Eerd family, the owners of supermarket chain Jumbo, with whom Hema has been working closely for a year now. Exclusive negotiations are currently underway with Hema's creditors. Originally, former owner Marcel Boekhoorn himself also joined Parcom's bid, but the entrepreneur would now be out of the picture, reports Het Financieele Dagblad.

Australia: Woolworths opts out of $4bln JobMaker scheme unveiled in budget
Woolworths, Australia's largest private employer, says it will not participate in the government's $4bln JobMaker wage subsidy scheme as it believes it would not be appropriate to claim the aid, given record supermarket sales. In a memo circulated to staff, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci and chief people officer Caryn Katsikogianis said the retailer would not be signing up for the initiative, which offers employers between $100 and $200 a week for hiring new staff between the ages of 16 and 35.

SPAR Austria slashes food waste, encourages food sharing
Each discarded food item is one too many. To avoid any such loss, SPAR stores throughout Austria donate food that has reached its sell-by date but is still edible to about 200 different social institutions or food sharers. Recent food waste reduction measures that were prescribed by law in France or the Czech Republic, for example, have been a common practice at SPAR Austria for decades.

China: Alibaba shops for hypermarket chain Sun Art in $3.6bln deal
Alibaba Group Holdings said it will invest $3.6bln to acquire a controlling stake in hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd, gaining further ground in China's retail market. The e-commerce giant is hoping to further leverage its digital presence to support Sun Art’s 481 hypermarkets and three mid-size supermarkets in China. The move comes as Alibaba steadily expands its presence in China’s offline retail sector, as growth in traditional e-commerce slows. Alibaba, which already owned 21% of Sun Art through a unit, will raise its stake to around 72% through the acquisition of a similar stake in A-RT Retail Holdings, who owns 51% of Sun Art.

UK: John Lewis announces $1.3bln recovery plan
Britain’s John Lewis Partnership will invest 1bln pounds ($1.3bln) to expand its online business and improve its stores, and will diversify beyond retail and seek more partnerships as it aims to recover profits, it said. Detailing a five-year plan to grow the employee-owned department stores and Waitrose supermarket group, Chairman Sharon White said she was targeting profit of 400mln pounds by year five. She is also seeking efficiency savings of 300mln pounds a year by 2022.

LuLu eyes growth of Qatar’s startup ecosystem, says official
Talks are ongoing between hypermarket giant LuLu and leading institutions in Qatar for the development and growth of the country’s entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem, an official told Gulf Times. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Hypermarkets, Qatar, stated that the initiative is part of the hypermarket chain’s efforts to contribute to Qatar’s economic development, as well as self-sufficiency. Althaf said the discussions include an incubation programme to help new startups penetrate the mainstream market. “Our aim is to create and handhold these industries, enabling them to mature and become large scale”, explained Althaf, who is also a member of the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA).

OXXO set to become the biggest convenience retailer in Chile
Mexican business FEMSA Comercio, which controls the Coca-Cola bottler FEMSA and operates the OXXO convenience store chain, has reached an agreement to acquire OK Market, OXXO’s direct competitor in Chile. OK Market is a convenience banner owned by SMU, Chile’s largest retailer by store numbers and third largest by revenue. After more than a year of negotiations FEMSA has reached a binding agreement with SMU to acquire OK Market for close to CLP43.5bln (US$54.4mln).

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