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Amazon: Outdoing grocery competitors from a pricing standpoint

Kroger: 'Restock' reboot, revisit and revise

US: Allegiance elects new Chairman/CEO
Following the departure of Chairman of the Board and CEO David Maniaci, who has decamped to rival New Jersey retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp., taking his four-store family company, Nicholas Markets, with him, the board of managers of Allegiance Retail Services LLC and the board of directors of Foodtown Inc. have elected Daniel Katz to replace him. Katz is co-president and CEO of Mount Vernon, New York-based PSK Operating LLC, a longtime member of Allegiance and Foodtown that, through affiliated companies, owns and operates 13 New York supermarkets under the Foodtown, Freshtown and Pathmark banners.

US: Peapod co-founders and Bay Area investors headline Coaster Cycles' financing
Coaster Cycles announced personal investments from the co-founders of Peapod, Andrew Parkinson and Thomas Parkinson, as well as Bay Area investors John Lyman and Katherine Kennedy and Grant Allen (SE Ventures) in recent financing. As an already profitable company, the investment will support the expansion of Coaster's Montana based manufacturing facility as well as the growth of Coaster's existing rental fleets in Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. The funds will also allow expansion into new markets. It's all part of an aggressive growth plan that started with a ride from Fenway Park in Boston.

Kroger readies 'Restock' reboot
The eyes of the food retailing world will be on Kroger this week when the company is expected to revisit and revise its 2-year-old Restock Kroger transformation plan. The Cincinnati-based grocer alluded to potential revisions to Restock when it reported second-quarter results on September 12 and failed to affirm a key financial target established when the Restock transformation plan was launched in late 2017. As Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen reminded investors during the Q2 call: “Restock Kroger has four main drivers: redefine the grocery customer experience, partner for customer value, develop talent and live our purpose. Combined, these drivers come together to create shareholder value”.

Amazon still wins in grocery pricing
Amazon already is outdoing grocery competitors from a pricing standpoint, giving the e-Commerce giant another edge, according to a study from Profitero. During the period from July to September 2019: Kroger averaged 1.6% more expensive than Amazon on 156 exactly matched products; was 3.5% more expensive on 133 products; Walmart was 6.2% more expensive on 172 products; Instacart was 10.7% more expensive on 137 products; and Target was 11.6% more expensive on 153 products. Upon analyzing daily prices on 12,500 products across all categories, Profitero found that Walmart products are 4.1% more expensive than the same products sold at Amazon, while Target’s are 10.6% more expensive.

US: John Furner steps into the top role at Walmart
John Furner has stepped into the leadership role at Walmart US following last month’s announcement that Greg Foran would be leaving the business to take the CEO role at Air New Zealand. Furner takes up this role having previously led Walmart’s Sam’s Club business since February 2017, as part of a 25-year career with the retailer. During his time at Sam’s Club, he re-energised the business around a new target segment, simplified the business and advanced its progress with new technologies and ecommerce.

UK: Aldi trials reusable bags for loose fruit and veg
From the end of November, more than 250 stores in Scotland, the North of England and the Midlands will offer the bags as a more sustainable alternative to single-use plastic. The drawstring bags are made from recycled plastic bottles and will be sold for 25p each. The initiative could remove the equivalent of 113 tonnes of single-use plastic from circulation each year if introduced nationally. Fritz Walleczek, managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi, said: “We are committed to cutting the amount of plastic that Aldi and our customers use, particularly excess or single-use plastic like produce bags. It is a long journey, but every little step like this brings us closer to our target of cutting the amount of plastic we use in packaging by 25%.”

UK: Iceland introduces a plastic-free greengrocer
Iceland will trial loose fresh produce, as one of its solutions to reduce plastics. The trial will run at the Food Warehouse in north Liverpool. The retailer offers low prices on loose fresh produce, as an incentive for shoppers. The trial introduces plastic-free solutions which includes: Paper bags with a tracing paper window; Cotton and cellulose nets; Compostable punnets.

Carrefour Romania under scrutiny after sanitary issues spotted
Officials of Romania’s state consumer protection body ANPC met on October 30 with the local management of French retailer Carrefour, including CEO Jean Richard de Latour, to discuss the results of the control ANPC carried out recently in several Carrefour stores, reported. Following an extended inspection that covered 14 of the group’s stores, ANPC has proposed the temporary closure of 2 Carrefour supermarkets for 6 months and applied fines in amount of RON 301,000 (EUR 63,000) for sanitary problems found. The authority announced that a thorough process of verification across the whole Carrefour network will follow and additional “filters” to monitor the quality of products and services offered by the chain will be set in place.

Lidl Netherlands trials in-store scan & go option
Discounter Lidl is testing a Scan & Go option usign hand-held devices in its store at Huizen, Netherlands. This initiative is an extension of the existing self-scan trial currently underway in the market. It enables shoppers to self-scan products while walking the store, place them in their shopping bags and pay quickly at checkouts. Currently, 13 branches are equipped self-scan checkouts and the retailer plans to roll it out to 27 stores by the end of 2019.

UK: Asda extends deadline for workers to sign new contracts
Asda has given a week’s extension to thousands of its workers who faced losing their job on Saturday night if they refuse to sign up to a new contract that hits pay and benefits. The deal, which will apply to more than 120,000 hourly-paid staff, increases basic hourly pay but ends paid breaks, cuts premium pay on most bank holidays and reduces the number of hours rated as better-paid night shifts. Union officials for the GMB, which represents Asda staff, said last week that up to 12,000 staff would not agree to the new contract with its requirement for more flexible working, including varying shifts between 8am and 10pm and switching between departments. However, it is understood that many workers have signed in recent days and the supermarket said on Friday that less than 1,000 people had not signed.

Holland: Jumbo completes Agrimarkt takeover
Dutch retailer Jumbo Groep Holding has announced the completion of its takeover of Agrimarkt, which will see six supermarkets in the southwest of the Netherlands join the Jumbo estate. Three of the stores, in Roosendaal, Vlissingen and Middelharnis, are being converted to Jumbo outlets, while the Agrimarkt in Goes is to be converted into the first Jumbo Foodmarkt in Zeeland province. Elsewhere, Jumbo has reached agreement with discounter Lidl on the takeover and operation of the Agrimarkt outlets in Terneuzen and Oud-Beijerland.

China: Hong Kong September retail sales fall 18.3% as protests take toll
Hong Kong’s retail sales plunged in September as the anti-government protests that have gripped the Chinese-ruled city for nearly five months scared off tourists and battered spending. Since June, protesters have taken to the streets of the Asian financial hub in sometimes violent demonstrations in response to perceived Chinese meddling with the city’s promised freedoms. Already hampered by the Sino-U.S. trade war and a slowing Chinese economy, the protests have further damaged the city’s economy, hitting retail and tourism particularly hard. Retail sales in September fell 18.3% from a year earlier, government data showed. The slide compared with a revised 22.9% drop in August and a 21.5% fall in September 1998, according to Refinitiv data, as clashes spread across shopping districts and took a heavy toll on malls. Retail sales fell for an eighth consecutive month to HK$29.9bln ($3.81bln) in September. They were down 20.4% in volume, compared with a revised 25.2% drop in August.

Holland: changes Just Eat deal structure as Prosus circles said it would make an offer to buy Just Eat, changing the structure of a previously announced agreement as it looks to fight off a rival bid from internet giant Prosus. Takeaway and Just Eat had earlier agreed on the terms of a 4.7bln-pound all-share combination by means of a court sanctioned scheme. However, a slide in Takeaway’s shares since August 30 has reduced the value of its bid. The Dutch firm said it now intends to buy Just Eat through an offer with a shareholder acceptance threshold of 75%, adding that such a structure would increase the chances of the deal going through. Just Eat’s board unanimously recommended its shareholders accept the offer, it said in a separate statement.

Ghana places fourth in new ranking of developing countries’ retail markets
A report prepared by A.T. Kearney, a US-Based global business strategy and consulting firm, has ranked Ghana as the fourth country in its debut among a list of 30 developing countries on the potential for strength and investment in their domestic retail markets. The A.T. Kearney 2019 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) judged the country’s retail size to be about US$24.4bln with more international retailers viewing Ghana as the next go-to-market in the sub-region. Although the report stated that the country’s economy is dominated by the informal retail, it predicts the urbanization will be a major driver for modern retailing, which is expected to reach US$33.16bln by 2024. International supermarket chain Pick & Pay is set to open a store this year while Massmart has opened three outlets since 2017.

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