The Co-op Group is opening 7 stores in London

New retail strategic alliance formed by Alibaba, Auchan and Ruentex

Spar Albania expected to double store network
Spar Albania plans to double its store network by the end of the year. The Baltic Finance Investment Group (Balfin), Spar Albania’s master franchisee and the country’s largest investment company, is expected to operate 30 stores at the turn of the year. Next year, Balfin Group plans to grow by 20 additional outlets. The Albanian market is still dominated by traditional formats, with organised retail accounting for only 15% of the food market in the country. This low market concentration offers a lot of expansion potential for Spar and its accelerating economic growth. In August, Spar Albania announced that it will invest over €50mln in expanding its network to over 100 supermarkets and 10 hypermarkets, aiming to become the number one grocery retailer in the country. (

UK: Seven Co-op stores opening in London
The Co-op Group is investing £4.8mln in opening seven stores across London throughout November. Around 100 jobs will be created in the capital with the openings. Peter Batt, divisional managing director for the Group, said: “It’s an incredibly exciting time for the Co-op in London as we gear up to launch seven brand new stores in just two weeks. As well as being hubs for the local community, our stores are committed to providing a consistently brilliant in-store experience, allowing customers living in busy urban areas to get what they want, when they want. Our new store launches, together with our ever growing range of locally-sourced produce and increasing member numbers put us in a strong position as we look towards further expansion in 2018.” (

China: Alibaba, Auchan and Ruentex form new retail strategic alliance
The three groups have announced a strategic alliance that brings together their online and offline expertise to explore new retail opportunities in China’s food and grocery retail sector. Alibaba will invest a total of HK$22.4bln (US$2.88bln) to obtain an aggregate direct and indirect stake of 36.16% in Sun Art, the operator of RT-Mart and Auchan stores in China, by acquiring shares from Ruentex. Auchan Retail is also increasing its stake in Sun Art to 36.18%, while Ruentex holds a 4.67% share in Sun Art. Auchan Retail will continue to consolidate Sun Art in its financials following the transaction. Alibaba’s “New Retail” vision aims to provide a seamless omnichannel experience to consumers in China with its technology, online platforms and logistic coverage. This new alliance will enable Sun Art to benefit from Alibaba’s digital ecosystem. It will digitize and introduce new retail solutions to stores, including online and offline integration together with modern fulfilment and personalized customer experience. (igd)

CA: Loblaw piloting fee-based subscription program
Loblaw is piloting a fee-based subscription program, PC Insiders, offering a range of perks to its most loyal customers, including free online delivery for its non-food websites and free pickup for its grocery click and collect service. PC Insiders has been developed to reward customers that shop across a range of the retailer’s brands, both in-store and online. The digital, loyalty-based program is initially targeted towards PC Plus loyalty members who are also President's Choice Financial Mastercard cardholders. Initially it is available in British Columbia and Ontario, although the program is expected to be expanded out more widely in 2018 to members of its new loyalty program, PC Optimum. (igd)

CA: Supermarket chain expands food waste digester pilot program
Asian grocery chain T&T Supermarkets Inc. is expanding its pilot project of operating an on-site food digester system to treat organic waste generated by one of its supermarkets. T&T Supermarkets and Micron will work together to explore additional locations for installing and operating the digester. T&T Supermarkets, the largest chain of specialist Asian supermarkets in Canada, was pleased with the digester’s ability to turn organic waste on-site into an environmentally friendly liquid form, giving the company a strong case for rolling out additional units in the future. With the success of the pilot, Micron plans to accelerate discussions with multiple supermarket chains. The company is also planning to expand into other sectors looking to improve the operational and cost efficiencies of their organic matter disposal. (

US: Walmart is creating totally new kinds of food in a secret laboratory
Walmart is creating new fruits and vegetables to better compete with Amazon. The retailer has invented a cantaloupe called Sweet Spark that stays sweet year-round, tomatoes that can ship long distances without rotting, and a yellow-skinned watermelon with a consistently "unbelievable" flavor. The fruits and vegetables are grown from seeds in a "secret" laboratory at Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart has also experimented with new food pairings in the lab, including birthday cake flavored oatmeal and fruit punch flavored pickles, which the company named Tropickles. (

US: Whole Foods shows incremental gains in Q4
Whole Foods Market said its fourth-quarter sales rose 4.4%, to $3.65bln, compared with the year-ago period. The company reported the results for its full fiscal year, which ended Sept. 24, in its annual 10-K report with the Securities & Exchange Commission on Friday. The fourth-quarter sales growth, which included about one month of ownership under Amazon, represented an improvement over third-quarter sales growth of 0.6% and growth of about 1.3% through the first 40 weeks of the fiscal year. (

Amazon almost ready to launch first cashierless Go
Amazon has been fine tuning its Amazon Go concept, which was presented last December as the first convenience store to replace manned check-outs with an ingenious brand of “just walk out” technology. The idea is appealing in its simplicity: consumers would be able to walk in, pick up items and then pay for them through their Amazon accounts, avoiding standing in line at a cashier. However, technological difficulties have continued to hamper the launch of Amazon’s revolutionary shopping concept, which should rely on sensing technology similar to the one used in self-driving cars. Amazon Go represents Amazon’s most ambitious effort yet to optimize customer experience and further its reputation for convenience. It follows the company’s move into groceries with the 12.5bln euro acquisition of Whole Foods Market earlier this year and is expected to bring Amazon’s e-commerce business in sync with its brick-and-mortar ambitions. The actual launch date of the Amazon Go is still unknown: Amazon refuses to comment on the information disclosed on its hiring procedures for the Amazon Go team all together. (

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