Co-op: 30 stores opening before Christmas

Colruyt: 32.5% of Belgian grocery market

Spain: Eroski promotes Alava agricultural products
Eroski has signed an agreement to develop and promote Alava agricultural products. Eroski’s partnership with Agroganadera de Álava Union will see it promote and develop Alava agricultural products. The Agroganadera de Álava Union suggests the partnership will allow the groups to further protect the interests of farmers in the Alava territory. Asun Bastida, Eroski’s commercial director for local products stated the collaboration ‘is a part of the cooperatives commitment to commercialise products produced in local environments.’

Italy: Spar partner Ergon posts 'strong' 2019 results
Spar Italy has announced that its partner, Ergon has posted sales growth of 15% in 2019. Ergon is one of the license holders for the Despar brand in Sicily. The company has also reported a 21.6% growth in margin for the same period. Ergon attributed its growth to acquisitions made by the company in 2018 to expand the business. The group has set aside €6.5mln for implementing its 'ambitious plans' aimed at driving future growth for the company in 2020, it said in a statement.

Colruyt close to holding a third of Belgian grocery market
Colruyt, which operates the Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay and Spar banners in Belgium, among others, now holds close to a third (32.5%) of the Belgian market, according to the retailer's half-year financial results. Colruyt saw its revenue rise 2.8% in the first half of the year, to €4.7bln, which was boosted by both calendar effects and its acquisition of Fiets!, a bicycle retailer. Comparable revenue growth was up 2.1% including fuel, and 1.9% excluding fuel. This was boosted by a positive calendar effect of 1.3% in the period, thanks to the later Easter. EBIT for the period was €266mln. Gross margin rose to 26.6% of revenue, due to 'operational improvements', the retailer said.

Indonesia October retail sales grow at fastest pace in five months
Growth in retail sales in Indonesia accelerated to 3.6% in October from a year earlier, the fastest pace in five months and picking up strongly from September’s 0.7%, a central bank survey showed. Growth was mainly driven by increased sales of food and auto parts, although sales of communication equipment remained weak. The survey predicted growth of 3.4% in November.

UK: Co-op will open 30 stores before Christmas
Co-op’s store opening programme will see 30 new stores open in the two weeks before Christmas. The retailer has invested more than £25mln in new stores opened during November and December, creating over 500 jobs. The new stores will be located in transport hubs, city centres and residential apartments. The programme is part of Co-op’s strategy to ‘win in convenience by being closer’. The ‘closer to where I am’ element aims to take Co-op’s offer to the heart of more communities across the UK, though both physical stores and a range of digital initatives. Stuart Hookins, Co-op’s director of portfolio and development, said: “Ease, speed and convenience continue to rise in importance for today’s time-pressed shopper - and, our focus is all about selecting the right location to deliver what our members and customers want, need and care about, conveniently.”

Holland: Vomar sees revenue up
Dutch discounter Vomar Voordeelmarkt has posted 11% revenue growth in the year to date, in what has been an "exceptionally successful year" for the business, according to its chief executive, Aart van Haren. The business has "invested heavily" in facilitating future growth over the past year, he added, including opening a new distribution centre for fresh items in Alkmaar, as well as unveiling four new stores this past autumn. "At the start of 2020 we will double the production capacity of our central bakery in Alkmaar and we also have the ambition to greatly expand our current branch base in the coming years", he added.

UK's grocery sales lack Christmas spirit
Sales growth at Britain’s supermarkets slowed in the last quarter, industry data showed, as shoppers delayed their Christmas preparations ahead of a national election on December 12. Market researcher Kantar said all of Britain’s big four supermarket groups - market leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons - recorded sales declines over the period and lost market share to the German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl which are aggressively opening new stores. Kantar said total British grocery sales rose 0.5% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to December 1, having increased 1% in its November data set. Kantar said sales at Tesco fell 0.8% over the period, while Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons saw sales declines of 1.1%, 1.9% and 2.9% respectively. In contrast Aldi’s sales were up 6.2% and Lidl’s rose 9.3%, giving a combined market share of 14.1%.

Walmart Chile pulls court requests for police protection, but warns looting continues
Walmart in Chile pulled requests it filed earlier with Chilean courts demanding police protection for its supermarkets, but said looting of its stores continued and that the situation following weeks of unrest remained “complex.” The Chilean subsidiary of the U.S.-based retailer in November told judges in six cities that the attacks on its stores had “gravely” affected its ability to operate in the country. “Given the circumstances in the country, the looting and re-looting of our company’s stores persists”, Walmart Chile said in the statement.

US: Target expands Aira service for blind and low-vision customers
Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has expanded a pilot program to 600 stores to offer a free service called Aira for those customers who are blind or have limited vision. Aira connects blind and low-vision guests with trained agents who act as visual interpreters. Following a successful pilot that began last year, Target launched the service to the additional 600 stores across the U.S. in November. According to Target, the partnership with Aira allows it “to make a real difference in blind and low-vision guests’ shopping experience, but it’s also building on Target’s journey to create a deep foundation of accessibility”.

Canada: Farm Boy to open eight stores
Farm Boy is taking the next steps in its ambitious Ontario expansion plan with the announcement it will open eight locations in the province over the next two years. In addition to new stores in St. Catharines, Ottawa and Newmarket, the fresh food grocer will strengthen its foothold in the Toronto market with five locations in and around the downtown core. News of the future openings was made just days after Farm Boy cut the ribbon on its Burlington location. “We’re delighted to see how well our offer continues to resonate with our customers. Farm Boy is entering an exciting phase of our growth plans as we expand our presence in the GTA and Ottawa, while also entering new markets like the Niagara region”, said Farm Boy’s co-CEO Jeff York in a press release.

Ahold Delhaize to invest $480mln in U.S. supply chain to create a fully integrated, self-distribution model
Ahold Delhaize USA announced that it is investing $480mln to transform and expand its supply chain operations on the U.S. East Coast. This investment supports the new three-year strategy to move the U.S. supply chain into a fully integrated, self-distribution model. The $480mln capital outlay will cover a three-year transition period, which will support the acquisition of three distribution facilities by Ahold Delhaize USA from C&S Wholesale Grocers and leases on two additional facilities. In addition, it includes investment in two new fully automated Ahold Delhaize USA frozen facilities to be constructed in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic of the U.S.

US: Walmart launches autonomous delivery in Houston
Walmart has partnered with robotics company Nuro to bring autonomous grocery delivery to Houston-based customers, according to a press release. Over the next few months, Nuro delivery will be made available to Walmart shoppers in Houston who have opted into the service. It will expand to the general public later in 2020. The service will use Nuro’s R2 driverless vehicles, which are driverless and carry no passengers, along with autonomous Toyota Priuses powered by Nuro’s technology. The cars will deliver a full assortment of groceries, from fresh produce to pantry products.

US: New Seasons Market merges with Good Food Holdings
Independent grocer New Seasons Market, which also operates New Leaf Community Markets, is merging with Good Food Holdings and will continue to operate separately as certified B Corporations. Good Food Holdings - owned by South Korean company Emart - is the holding company of independent grocers Bristol Farms, Metropolitan Market and Lazy Acres Natural Market, all on the West Coast. “We are proud to join Good Food Holdings with a shared commitment to building community through good food”, said Forrest Hoffmaster, New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets CEO. “This partnership with Good Food Holdings ensures our longevity as a community cornerstone - one that continues to nourish our neighbors and staff, inspire environmental stewardship and champion the local food economy, as we have done since 2000”.

US: Ingles logs record FY 2019 sales
Ingles Markets Inc. reported record total sales of $4.20bln for fiscal year 2019, versus $4.09bln in fiscal 2018. Pretax annual income was $106.6mln for fiscal year 2019, compared with $80.3mln last year. For the fiscal years ended September 2019 and 2018, net income came to $81.6mln in 2019 and $97.4mln, respectively, with fiscal 2018 net income positively affected by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. For Ingles’ fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, total sales were $1.08bln, versus $1.06bln for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018, while net income for Q4 of fiscal 2019 totaled $20.9mln, compared with $18.4mln for the year-ago period.

US: Walmart donating land for hometown park
Walmart Inc. is donating 75 acres of land that will be developed into a park at the intersection of SW 8th and I Streets in the mega-retailer’s hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. Adding a nearly 23-acre donation from Walton family members, the new park will cover almost 100 acres according to the company. While the type of park hasn’t been determined yet, according to a blog post by Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s EVP, corporate affairs: “ideas include access to the trail system, water features, open spaces and play areas”.

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