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Selex has predicted a positive turnover of €11bln for 2019

France: E-grocery app Jow raises $7mln additional funding

SPAR Express in Austria to expand further
Over the next 14 months, SPAR Austria will open another 20 SPAR Express forecourt stores in the country. The first SPAR Express stores featuring a fresh market area were launched in Amstetten, Lower Austria, ahead of the concept rolling out across the country. SPAR Express forecourt stores are considered a leading concept in the Austrian industry due to their state-of-the-art locations, the extensive range on offer and extended opening hours as well as being open on Sundays and public holidays.

Holland: Coop and Red Cross to install AEDs at Supermarkets
Coop Netherlands has announced that it is installing AEDs (automated external defibrillators) outside its supermarkets in association with the Dutch Red Cross. The retailer has already installed its first AED outside Coop Dunnink in De Wijk. The move aims to improve the safety of consumers in and around Coop stores, as it is a life-saving device for people experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. Coop and the Dutch Red Cross aim to install around 50 AEDs by the end of this year. National aid and association management director of the Dutch Red Cross, Joke van Lonkhuijzen, commented: “As the Red Cross, we think it is important that people can help each other. We, therefore, argue that as many AEDs as possible should [...] be available in the Netherlands. Thanks to this promotion [by Coop], more AEDs will soon be accessible to everyone. With this, we can save lives."

Romania: food delivery app expands coverage and launches new services
The online food delivery platform EuCeMananc, recently acquired by the major online retailer and marketplace operator eMAG, launched operations in Cluj-Napoca and introduced a new service called “group order” that allows, for instance, employees in the same office to place individual orders in a joint basket thus saving time and delivery costs. “We are pleased that from now on our services are available in the most important city in Transylvania, which has experienced an unprecedented development in the last years in terms of infrastructure and online commerce. On this occasion we also introduce a new functionality on the EuCeMananc platform, respectively the group command. Our data before the launch indicated that there is a market for this functionality and we are glad that we can offer it from the beginning", said Mihai Brenda, COO EuCeMananc.

‘Half of Amazon reviews are fake’
5 out of 10 Amazon reviews are currently based on fake entries. That is what a reviewer, working for a reputation agency, claims in a report written by German magazine Computer Bild. Millions of customers buy at Amazon and they often rely on the accompanying product reviews, which (alleged) buyers have left after their purchase. But, in many cases, these product reviews on Amazon are fake, Computer Bild claims. “There are a striking number of top reviews on Amazon for the headphones of a start-up: clearly fake reviews. Who’s behind this, can be read in the current issue”, the magazine writes. Getting products at the top of the search results in Amazon by generating positive reviews, according to Computer Bild, is the work of dubious agencies that offer so-called reputation management.

Australia: Metcash H1 shows positive signs
Metcash has released half year results for the period ending 31 October 2019, with group revenue including charge-through sales, up 0.5% to AU$7.21bln. Underlying EBIT declined 5.3% to AU$149.7mln, mainly attributed to a lower contribution from the food business as a result of the loss of its contract with Drakes on 30 September in South Australia. In the supermarkets business sales including charge through grew 0.8% to AU$3.6bln and had it not been for the loss of the contract to supply Drakes Supermarkets in South Australia, sales would have increased 1.2%. Wholesale sales, excluding tobacco, declined 0.3%. More positively sales trajectory improved versus the same period last year and excluding the Drakes impact, sales would have increased 0.3%. The first reported half year increase in non-tobacco sales since FY12.

France: E-grocery app Jow raises $7mln additional funding
Jow, the French e-grocery app - which combines recipes, recommendations and online grocery ordering - has raised $7mln in new funding. The round is led by Stride.VC, alongside Caterina Fake and Jyri Engeström from Yes VC, and Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and CEO of Zola. Launched in 2018 and now supporting five of France’s leading grocery retailers (Monoprix, Carrefour, Auchan, Chronodrive and E.Leclerc), Jow’s app claims to let you complete your weekly online food shop in as little as a minute (once you’ve been on-boarded, of course).

Italy: Selex forecasts an €11bln turnover for 2019
Italy-based Selex has predicted a positive turnover of €11bln for 2019. The retailer alliance also discussed how the market is unpredictable. Furthermore, the group has highlighted ambitious 2020 goals as its members look to continue their expansion plans. The Selex Group has announced its turnover is estimated to be €11bln in 2019, an increase of 4.2% compared to 2018. Over the last 10 years, the Selex Group said it had invested €2.5bln, creating a network of 2,300 point of sales. By 2020, the group plans to invest €330mln, to reach its target of opening 67 new stores and update a further 81 across Italy.

Walmart to train 50,000 Indian MSMEs in 5 years: Judith McKenna, President & CEO, Walmart International
World's largest retailer Walmart will train and prepare 50,000 Indian small businesses to 'Make in India' for global supply chain though its 'Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development Program', said a top executive of the company. "In the first 5 years, our commitment is that 50,000 MSME entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to train at 25 institute hubs strategically located near manufacturing clusters across India so that they are convenient to access", said McKenna. According to McKenna, the Walmart Vriddhi Program will connect the network of supplier development communities they have already today in Flipkart and Best Price, using their learnings to help develop a powerful curriculum and expand and accelerate the work even further and faster. The idea behind the program is to make Indian suppliers take advantage of both domestic and global markets.

US: Farmbox takes food as medicine to the next Level
Subscription grocery delivery company Farmbox Direct has launched a health care program called FarmboxRX to further its commitment to wellness. FarmboxRX will partner with health insurers to deliver fruits and vegetables to underserved populations, such as the elderly, at no cost to them. The first partnership for the subscription-based service is Vibra Health Plan in Pennsylvania, a division of Blue Cross Blue Shield. The rollout starts on January 1, 2020, and will provide 2,700 free produce boxes per month to Vibra’s Medicare-enrolled members. FarmboxRX has also signed with two additional insurance providers for 2021, and plans to ship 250,000 boxes that year.

Canada: METRO sells MissFresh
METRO announced that it is selling MissFresh to Cook it, another Montreal-based ready-to-cook meal company, as part of a transaction involving all of MissFresh's assets. This combination of two young complementary Montreal companies will consolidate Quebec's expertise in ready-to-cook meals and allow it to continue to grow. Cook it will now serve both its current and MissFresh customers. Customers will be able to continue to pick up their ready-to-cook meals at participating Metro stores.

US: Sprouts will hold National Hiring Day on December 17
Local Sprouts Farmers Market stores will host walk-in interviews during a National Hiring Day event on Tuesday, December 17 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The healthy grocer’s interview day will be held across its nearly 340 stores from coast to coast with approximately 1,000 full- and part-time, non-seasonal positions open to meet the demand for its fresh, natural and organic products. Interviews will be held at each Sprouts location, and available positions can be found at “Our knowledgeable team members are instrumental as Sprouts expands healthy food access to communities from coast to coast”, said Timmi Zalatoris, VP of Human Resources. “These non-seasonal positions across the store offer a great opportunity to learn and grow a career.”

US: Lidl acquiring 6 Shoppers stores
Lidl has agreed to buy six of the 13 Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores for sale by United Natural Foods, Inc., according to a list published by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 and Local 27 unions, which represent Shoppers employees. A source familiar with the matter confirmed the deal. Lidl will acquire one store in Burke, Virginia, and 5 locations in Maryland: Annapolis, Oxon Hill, Brooklyn Park, Takoma Park and Wheaton. According to UFCW’s post, Compare Foods has agreed to purchase five Maryland locations, including 2 in Baltimore and 1 each in Colmar Manor, Capitol Heights and Landover. McKay’s is listed as the third buyer, picking up stores in California, Maryland, and Waldorf, Maryland. A spokesman for UNFI confirmed the locations UFCW released, but said final confirmation rested with the three retail chains. Grocery Dive reached out to Lidl, Compare Foods and McKay’s for confirmation and comment but did not hear back by press time.

Walmart Canada and SCI open doors on new facility dedicated to fulfilling e-commerce orders across Canada
SCI Canada and Walmart Canada announced the official opening of SCI’s largest dedicated and purpose-built distribution centre (DC) in Mississauga, Ontario. At approximately 450,000 square feet, the DC is the main facility dedicated to fulfilling Walmart Canada’s online orders. The new distribution centre is a flexible, scalable solution for logistics and fulfilment that is part of Walmart’s strategy to continue growing its e-commerce business in Canada. The need is there, as Walmart Canada’s flagship website is visited daily by over 750,000 customers.

US: Apollo seeks sale of Smart & Final's food warehouse stores - sources
Private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc is exploring a sale of the warehouse store business of Smart & Final Stores LLC, the U.S. food retailer it acquired in June, people familiar with the matter said. Apollo is seeking more than $1bln for the business, close to the price tag of $1.1bln, including debt, it paid for the entirety of Smart & Final six months ago, the sources said. The sale would exclude Smart & Final’s discount grocery store business, which is less lucrative, the sources added.

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