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Colruyt Group's revenue increased by 5.7%

Metro AG: Like-for-like sales - decline of 3.9% in full-year

India: Swiggy moves away from grocery and fresh produce marketplace
Swiggy has pulled the plug from grocery, fruits, vegetables and other essential deliveries in about 100 cities. The service was bundled with Swiggy Stores and started from Gurugram two years ago. The move signals a departure from a marketplace to the dark store model. Swiggy would continue to operate dark stores under the brand name Instamart.

UK: Co-op Honest Value now available to ‘Credible’ Nisa partners
Co-op’s Honest Value own-label range is now available to Nisa retailers, provided they meet the company’s ‘Credible’ stock requirements. In a message sent to eligible partners and seen by RN, Nisa said: “We’re pleased to inform you that you’ve unlocked access to the new Co-op Honest Value product range. This new brand and range of 58 value-tier own-brand essentials will help you delivery extra value to the shoppers who need it most during these difficult times. With extra lines due to be added throughout 2021, your value-conscious shoppers can put their trust in Co-op Honest Value”. Launched initially for Co-op stores in November, the value range includes meat, Fairtrade, fruit and veg, ready meals, soft drinks, dairy and household.

A look at weak chains in Kenya’s retail sector
Kenya’s supermarket sector has over the recent past faced numerous challenges. The figures paint a gloomy picture. In a short time, the branches have shrunk from 314 to 189, with big retailers such as Nakumatt, Tuskys and Uchumi the biggest losers. But it is not all gloom and doom as Naivas and Quickmart have capitalised on the weaknesses of the fallen giants to expand and woo shoppers. Naivas has been leading an aggressive expansion plan, taking up retail spaces they have left behind. But overall, the sector appears to be under siege. While a total of 125 branches have been closed, only 13 new outlets opened in 2020 and just seven more are projected to be opened in the near future, according Cytonn’s latest research on supermarkets in Kenya.

Finland: Kesko Group's grocery division sees sales up 1.6% in November
Kesko Group has reported a 1.6% growth in sales in its grocery trade division to €470.4mln in November. Grocery sales in K-food stores increased by 6.9%, while sales in Kespro dropped by 19.9% due to COVID-19 related restrictions on restaurants and events and people working from home. The company's total sales amounted to €875.0mln in November 2020 and strengthened in comparable terms from the year before.

Belgium: Colruyt continues to lose market share
In the first half of the broken financial year 2020/21, Colruyt Group's revenue increased by 5.7% to almost 5bln euro. The growth was due to increased volumes in the food stores as a result of the corona crisis, but also, among other things, to the increase of the participation in Fraluc Group, the holding company that oversees the fashion chains ZEB, PointCarré, The Fashion Store and ZEB For Stars. The non-food stores, the food service department and the fuel activities saw their turnover decrease. Online sales of both food and non-food showed strong growth, but the company does not communicate details about this. The group's gross profit margin increased to 28.1% of turnover. Operating profit (EBIT) was 311mln or 6.2% of revenue, an improvement of 17.5%. However, operating expenses increased, but promotional pressure was lower at the start of the financial year, according to Colruyt Group.

Germany: Wholesaler Metro sees like-for-like sales down 3.9% in 'robust' full-year
Wholesale giant Metro AG has posted a like-for-like sales decline of 3.9% in its full-year 2019/20, a period it described as 'robust'. The group said that following a challenging third quarter, which was impacted by COVID-19, the group saw an acceleration in Q4, with a performance almost on a par with the corresponding period the previous year. Reported sales for the full year were 5.4% lower, at €25.6bln (2019: €27.1bln), while adjusted EBITDA was €1.16bln, compared to €1.39bln the previous year.

US: Walmart, discounters in strong position heading into 2021
During the recent SN Analysts Roundtable, Supermarket News spoke with Robby Ohmes, analyst at Bank of America, about what the grocery industry experienced in 2020 under COVID-19 - and which companies he expects to see retain the success that retailers have seen in pandemic America. Ohmes said he has been paying close attention to Walmart, Target and other discounters. “We think the discounters are the big beneficiaries of the development done on the omnichannel side of the business during COVID-19”, he said. “And we think that's going to carry over well for them into next year. One of the benefits that we think Walmart and Target have relative to the food retailers is that they sell general merchandise and we're seeing the momentum in general merchandise improve, which is coinciding with the big uptake on their omnichannel initiatives, particularly pickup but also delivery”.

US: Blue Apron rolls out 'holistic wellness' campaign to sustain at-home cooking trend
Blue Apron has debuted a new campaign aimed at highlighting the benefits of at-home cooking, the meal kit maker announced. Called “Wellness 360,” the initiative features new recipes with healthier ingredients including whole grains and fresh produce, as well as options that are easier to prepare, like one-pot meals. Customers can also expect added customization with the existing menu offerings, allowing them to swap out side dishes with starch for more vegetables or other choices, like Banza chickpea pasta. The new campaign, which includes a push to use advertising, influencers and collaborations to reach consumers, comes at a time when meal kit companies and food retailers are looking to sustain interest in the at-home cooking trend fired by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

US: Farmstead reaches key online grocery profitability milestone
Farmstead, the first online grocer to offer fresh, high-quality groceries, delivered for free, at better prices than local supermarkets, announced that it is now contribution-margin positive in its San Francisco hub (meaning the service is profitable on a per-order basis). Farmstead achieved this milestone without mark-ups, service fees or delivery fees, and in the most competitive and highest-cost market in the US.

US: Walmart takes self-driving pilot to the next level with driverless deliveries
Walmart is expanding its existing pilot programme with Gatik to test driverless deliveries. It is also going to test a longer route in Louisiana. Walmart initially partnered with autonomous vehicle company Gatik last year in Bentonville, Arkansas. The retailer has been using Gatik’s ‘Autonomous Box Trucks’ to move customer orders on a two-mile route between a dark store and a Neighborhood Market. Often referred to as the middle-mile, the two companies have safely driven over 70,000 operational miles, accompanied by a safety driver. They will now work on testing the technology in full autonomous mode, without a safety driver. The middle-mile is considered a good application for this technology as it is a known, routine journey for the vehicles.

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