Q4 sales growth for Whole Foods Market

Walmart creates totally new kinds of food in a secret laboratory

US: Ahold Delhaize halts Bfresh concept
Ahold Delhaize is halting development of its Bfresh concept. The company, which operates three Bfresh stores in Massachusetts, planned to build three locations in Philadelphia, but now says it will reevaluate the use of those sites. The company plans to fold its Massachusetts Bfresh stores along with its Eastside Marketplace store in Providence, Rhode Island into the Stop & Shop banner. The retailer said it will close its Bfresh location in Brighton, Massachusetts, this weekend, along with its Everything Fresh store in Philadelphia. “We will apply key learnings from Bfresh and the Eastside Marketplace — such as innovative technology, fresh prepared meals, a health-focused assortment and exciting ways to engage customers digitally and online — to Stop & Shop stores more broadly and to future alternative and small format store opportunities,” Mark McGowan, president of Stop & Shop said. (fooddive.com)

US: Bristol Farms debuts new food hall format
Bristol Farms has opened a new 25,000-square-foot store in Woodland Hills, California, that features a new food hall format with epicurean market stations. The store features products from hundreds of local vendors, a large selection of European and “import-style” products, and some 4,000 natural and organic grocery items. It also includes a specialty coffee concept called The Daily, serving Intazza coffee. “We are excited to offer our customers an elevated shopping experience while maintaining Bristol Farms quality and food standards,” said Adam Caldecott, president and co-CEO of Bristol Farms, who said the store, located on Mulholland Drive, will become “the culinary destination for the community.” (supermarketnews.com)

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. (businessinsider.com)

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. (supermarketnews.com)

Amazon tells Australian retailers to prepare for orders
Amazon.com Inc has told its Australian sellers to be ready to take orders on Nov. 23, according to a retailer, the first time the global retail juggernaut has given a start date for doing business in the world No. 12 economy. Australia has long been home to Amazon-registered sellers, but until now they had been limited to sending goods offshore since the $550bln company did not have any warehouse in the country of 24mln people. This also meant Australians had to wait long and pay sizable shipping costs for deliveries. Amazon has, however, set up a distribution warehouse in Melbourne city, on the country’s east coast where four-fifths of the population live, and logistics analysts say this will help cut sometimes open-ended delivery times to one or two days. (Reuters)

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. (environmentalleader.com)

US: Walmart is rolling out its massive online pickup towers to 500 stores
Walmart is adding online pickup towers to more than 500 stores. The massive towers, which stand at least 16 feet tall and 8 feet wide, rapidly retrieve online orders for customers who shipped their purchases to a Walmart store. The massive towers are located near store entrances. "Think of this as an ATM for parcel pickup," JP Suarez, Walmart's vice president of real estate, said at a recent conference. "We’re putting 500 of these towers in our stores, we love them." The towers are game-changers for online order pickups. Customers don't have to interact with employees to use the machines. They enter an order number or scan a barcode on their phones, and the package appears in a matter of seconds. Walmart tested the first pickup tower in a store in Bentonville, Arkansas — where the company is headquartered — last year. (businessinsider.com)

Amazon almost ready to launch first cashierless Go
Amazon has been finetuning 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. (retaildetail.eu)

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. (esmmagazine.com)

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.” (thenews.coop)

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)

India: Bigbasket signs 3 year e-procurement deal with SourceEzy
Bigbasket, an online supermarket, signed a three-year e-procurement deal with SourceEzy Technologies Pvt. Ltd, an e-procurement software and consulting firm here to source over 100 crore in the next three years. The contract will comprise the entire e-procurement requirement of the company including capital expenditure, operational expenditure, and services. "We use SourceEzy's software to capture internal requisitions, send out requests for product information and quotations, conduct e-auctions and send out online purchase orders to our vendors. The software is very user friendly and the consulting services received are exemplary," said Cdr (Retd) V.S. Ramesh, co-founder and chief projects officer of Bigbasket. (retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com)

Russia: Spar Kaliningrad opens eight new stores
Spar Kaliningrad has announced the opening of four Eurospar supermarkets and four Spar Neighbourhood stores over the last few months. Due to the Russian city’s proximity to Europe, at only 30km from Poland, the stores are catered more towards western European cuisines. Kaliningrad is located in the country’s most western region, sandwiched in-between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. The newly opened Spar Neighbourhood stores cater to a broad customer profile from students to tourists. All four new Neighbourhood stores have a fresh bakery section as well as deli counters, and some also serve freshly made pizza and sushi in-store. The four new Eurospar supermarkets target locals looking to shop in bulk. They too include the fresh food sections and additionally offer a fresh fish section and food-to-go items such as breakfast smoothies and sandwiches. (esmmagazine.com)

UK: How robots are helping to shape the future of retail
Online U.K. supermarket Ocado has introduced cloud-based technology and swarm robotics to collect grocery orders. The company, which describes itself as "the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailer," says it has more than 580,000 active customers. Towards the end of last year, Ocado began operations at an automated warehouse in Andover, southern England. "There, we have thousands of robots flying around, and there's no way that human engineers could monitor those in real-time, let alone make sense of all the data that's being streamed back by those robots," Paul Clarke, Ocado's chief technology officer, said. "So all of it is being sent to the cloud and there we're building smart, machine learning based analytics to analyze that data." Clarke added that the business wanted to "pepper the planet" with automated warehouses, both for itself and business-to-business (B2B) customers. (cnbc.com)

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