Food Lion: Early termination granted of the HSR waiting period to acquire 62 stores from Southeastern Grocers

Walmart and self-driving car company Cruise pilot grocery deliveries in Arizona

US: UNFI reaches labor accords with Teamsters in New York, California
United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) and Teamsters union locals in New York and California have agreed to new long-term contracts for drivers and frontline workers at four distribution centers. UNFI said that the collective bargaining agreements provide associates with competitive wages, strong benefits, and added safety and support amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while including compromises and language updates that give the distributor “important operating flexibility” to better serve customers.

US: J.C. Penney rescue deal approved in bankruptcy court
A U.S. judge approved a deal to rescue J.C. Penney Co Inc from bankruptcy proceedings precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, averting a liquidation that would have put the beleaguered department store chain out of business and jeopardized tens of thousands of jobs. 

US: Walmart expands self-driving tests with Cruise pilot
Walmart is a partnering with GM-owned self-driving car company Cruise to pilot grocery deliveries in Arizona. Walmart has undertaken several pilots in this space, including programmes with Nuro in Houston, Gatik in Bentonville and Udelv in Surprise, Arizona. It has also worked with Ford and Waymo, Google’s self-driving project. Cruise is relatively unique in that it is the only self-driving car company to operate an entire fleet of all-electric vehicles powered with 100% renewable energy. This supports the retailer’s target of zero emissions by 2040.

US: Meijer prepares for unprecedented holiday shopping season
As customers prepare for an unusual holiday season, Meijer offers increased safety and convenience measures to ensure a better experience for everyone. "This holiday season will be different for many customers, so we are pleased to make adjustments that will provide additional flexibility, while allowing them to enjoy all we have to offer", Meijer President & CEO Rick Keyes said. "Regardless of how customers choose to shop, we will provide a clean, socially-distanced and enjoyable shopping experience".

US: Food Lion has received early termination of the HSR waiting period to acquire 62 stores from Southeastern Grocers 
Ahold Delhaize announced that Food Lion, its leading brand in the southeastern United States, has made a major step forward to expand its store network through previously announced plans to purchase 62 BI-LO/Harveys Supermarket stores from Southeastern Grocers. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has granted Food Lion early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act of 1976 which satisfies one of the conditions of closing the transaction of the purchase of these stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Montenegro: Voli denies sale to Lidl, plans regional expansion
Montenegro-based supermarket chain Voli has rejected speculation that it is to be sold to German discounter Lidl. Speaking to local daily Vijesti, a company spokesperson rejected all rumours and speculations about the sale, stressing that Voli is the “largest employer in Montenegro, the largest agricultural producer and the undisputed leader in the retail market”.

Britain's grocery sales rose 9.4% last month but there's no panic
British grocery sales increased by 9.4% in October year-on-year as COVID-19 restrictions tightened, though there was no evidence of stockpiling or panic buying by consumers, market researcher Kantar said. Kantar: Morrisons, the fourth biggest supermarket group, was the best performer of Britain’s “big four” grocers with sales up 11.4% over the 12 weeks to November 1 period and its market share growing for the fifth month in a row. Sales at market leader Tesco were up 9.1% and increased 7.6% at Sainsbury’s. Walmart owned Asda was again the laggard with growth of 5.0%. Online supermarket Ocado was again the fastest growing retailer, with sales up 36.1%, while discounter Aldi again lost market share.

UK: Lidl increases hourly wages for 20,000 shop floor staff
Lidl has announced plans to increase the wages of all staff who are on hourly rates. For those outside of London, the German discounter said it would increase entry-level pay from £9.30 to £9.50 per hour. Meanwhile for staff within the M25, Lidl said it raise the hourly wage from £10.75 to £10.85, going up to £11.80, depending on location and length of service.

Ocado faces second AutoStore lawsuit in UK
British online supermarket and technology group Ocado was hit with a second legal claim over patents by Norwegian robotics company AutoStore. While in last month’s lawsuit AutoStore alleged Ocado infringed patents, its latest action seeks to confirm that it is the inventor and rightful owner of certain patents that have been filed by Ocado. AutoStore said the action was filed at the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, which it said was standard procedure before transfer to the High Court of England & Wales. Ocado dismissed the claim and said it would fight it.

Spain: Local firms’ fruitful partnership with leading supermarket chain
Mercadona has announced it plans to buy 1,500 tons of pomegranates of the Elche mollar variety this season, from the province of Alicante. The supermarket giant is collaborating with Alicante suppliers Cambayas, Frutas y Hortalizas Mas Serrano, Alcudia, all from Elche, along with Orihuela-based Plusfruit and Albafruits, Coop. V. in Albatera. 

UK: Supermarkets on track for record Christmas
Data released by Nielsen confirms there was only a slight uptick in grocery sales heading into Lockdown 2. However, despite uncertainty around Christmas gatherings, supermarkets look set to see record sales over the festive period. Nielsen’s research showed that supermarket sales rose 6.9% in the four weeks to 31 October, with growth only rising to 7.2% in the final week of the period.

Aldi commits to paying UK workers 10% bonus this Christmas
Aldi has announced that it will be handing its colleagues a 10% bonus for November which will be paid in December ahead of Christmas. The retailer’s 35,000 UK colleagues - both store and distribution workers - will receive the bonus as a “thank you” for continuing to work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singles’ Day: Big Chinese e-commerce platforms report strong sales during world’s largest shopping festival as pandemic moves more people online
As China’s Singles’ Day shopping festival kicked off in the first few minutes of November 11, Alibaba Group Holding said gross merchandise volume (GMV) on platforms it operates reached 372.3bln yuan (US$56.3bln) in the 10 days leading up to the main event through its first half-hour. Total transaction volume on, the country’s second largest e-commerce platform, surpassed 243bln yuan. Meanwhile, Chinese retailer reported that omnichannel GMV on its own e-commerce platform, Tmall shop and live streaming sessions had surpassed 5bln yuan.

Europe charges Amazon with using dominance and data to squeeze rivals
The European Union charged Amazon with damaging retail competition, alleging that the U.S. company uses its size, power and data to gain an unfair advantage over smaller merchants that sell on its online platform. The move by competition chief Margrethe Vestager, the latest European salvo against U.S. tech giants, comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified Amazon’s role in the global economy, with online sales soaring in lockdowns.

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