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Empire: Q4 profit and sales up

Albertsons has launched IPO

US: Kroger says demand easing after coronavirus stockpiling
Supermarket chain Kroger Co stopped short of raising its annual forecasts, saying a coronavirus-driven surge in demand for essential goods was fading as American households reconsider what they have on their shelves. Demand for fresh produce, meat and soups surged in March and April, and wide-ranging stockpiling in the health crisis forced the grocer to put purchase limits on cold, flu and sanitary products, as well as beef and fresh pork at certain stores. Reporting on a bumper first quarter, the supermarket group said that it now expected to beat earlier forecasts, which projected a rise of more than 2.25% in same-store sales and earnings of between $2.30 and $2.40 per share this year. Digital sales skyrocketed 92% in the first quarter ended May 23, compared with the previous quarter’s 22% increase, as more consumers opted for Kroger’s delivery and pickup services. Overall same-store sales, excluding the impact of fuel prices, rose 19%. The results showed sales rose 11.5% to $41.55bln, versus an average estimate of $40.72bln. 

US: Albertsons Cos. kicks off IPO
Just over three months after making its filing, Albertsons Cos. has launched an initial public offering of 65.8mln shares of common stock. Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons said that the IPO, sold by some of its stockholders, is expected to be priced at $18 to $20 per share. The company noted that it’s not selling any shares in connection with the common stock offering. Certain of the selling stockholders are slated to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to buy a total of 9.87mln shares of common stock, Albertsons added.

US: JC Penney kicks off liquidation sales at 136 stores this week
Bankrupt J.C. Penney has kicked off liquidation sales at 136 locations across the country, the department store chain announced, as it has been able to reopen many locations with local lockdown restrictions easing during the coronavirus pandemic. Deals on merchandise will range between 25% and 40% off, it said, adding that “all merchandise is on sale.” Penney said all sales will be final beginning June 25, meaning no returns are allowed.

US: Publix scores high for online accessibility
The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an advocacy group that performs what it calls “website auditing”, found good cause for optimism when it comes to grocery websites meeting the needs of consumers with eyesight problems. “In a world of social distancing coupled with the constant negativity surrounding the handling of the pandemic, there is a bright spot in the supermarket industry”, the group announced. The group reviewed food retail websites to learn how well they complied with standards set by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Publix took the top spot, with a score of 3.55 on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest). Giant Eagle scored 3.50, followed by SafeWay at 3.22, Kroger at 3.20, Whole Foods at 3.10, Meijer at 3.09, Winn-Dixie at 3.00 and Walmart at 3.00.

Canada: Empire reports Q4 profit and sales up, raises dividend
Empire Co. Ltd. raised its dividend as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $177.8mln, up from $122.1mln in the same quarter last year, as shoppers stocked up due to the pandemic and sales rose. The parent company of Sobeys and Safeway grocery stores in Canada says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 13 cents per share, up from 12 cents. The increased payment to shareholders came as Empire said its profit amounted to 66 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended May 2, up from 45 cents per diluted share a year earlier. Sales totalled $7.01bln, up from $6.22bln, while same-store sales rose 15%.

US: E-grocery startup claims to put ordering on 'autopilot'
Jupiter, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery and meal planning service, just raised $2.8mln in seed funding, TechCrunch reported. The service, which costs $45 per month, allows members to set up an automatic reorder of their favorite items each week and guarantees each member a weekly delivery slot. Using a members’ favorite items list, Jupiter’s algorithms attempt to make a complete grocery list for the customer, which is approved or adjusted by the member before submitting it. Each customer typically has one person to deliver their orders at the same time every week, in order to learn the customers’ preferences. The service includes prepared meals, meal kits, snacks and traditional grocery products. Jupiter partners with food suppliers and has its own warehouse where items are stocked and orders are fulfilled.

UK: Bestway Wholesale joins fight against proposed relaxation of Sunday trading laws
Bestway Wholesale has become the latest firm operating in the convenience sector to criticize the government’s alleged plans to suspend Sunday trading laws for a year in a bid to boost the economy. The group’s Managing Director, Dawood Pervez, stated that whilst the major focus is on general retailing and clothing, it is inevitable that the food and grocery markets - and in particular, the convenience retailing sector - will be impacted.

Aeon Japan’s Regi Go checkout solution
Aeon has been introducing its Everywhere Cash Register Regi Go service at some of its stores in Japan. The solution was launched in February, allowing shoppers to checkout more efficiently. Currently, around 20 stores across AEON and AEON STYLE banners in Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa have made the service available. An increasing number of customers are seeking faster and more efficient shopping trips. Regi Go allows customers to scan barcodes of products with a dedicated smartphone provided by the retailer. Users will then use a dedicated cash register to check out. To provide customers new value, Aeon is planning to add a recommendations function, menu suggestions and information on bargain products to users.

Alibaba and handle a record $136.51bln in sales during major Chinese shopping event
China’s 2 biggest e-commerce giants Alibaba and handled $136.51bln of sales through their platforms in 24 hours, during one of the country’s biggest shopping events. Known as 618 because it falls on June 18, the festival was being closely watched for signs about the health of the consumer in the world’s second-largest economy, as it looks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. said transaction volume totaled 269.2bln yuan ($37.99bln). This figure is the total value of all orders for products and services placed on the company’s online platform, regardless of whether the goods are sold, delivered or returned. That was more than the 201.5bln yuan in transaction volume last year. Meanwhile, Alibaba said gross merchandise value or GMV stood at 698.2bln yuan ($98.52bln). GMV is a figure that shows sales across the e-commerce giant’s shopping platforms.

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