Carrefour Express has opened a pilot store in Brussels

Amazon’s purchase of stake in Deliveroo put in doubt by UK’s regulator

Carrefour launches webstore in Qatar
Customers in Qatar can now shop for their favourite products from the comfort of their homes, as Carrefour has announced the launch of its webstore. Powered by Qatar Post, residents living in Doha, Al Rayyan, Al Daayen or Umm Salal can place their orders online and receive them the next day, with more than 100 neighbourhoods covered by the delivery service, Carrefour has said in a statement. Faleh Mohamed al-Naemi, chairman and managing director of Qatar Post, said: “Our mission is to redefine convenience by becoming a customer-centric, digitally enabled company. We continuously challenge ourselves to find even more ways to add value to our customer by offering an ever-increasing number of delivery points - when and where people need them the most. With this latest initiative with Carrefour, Qatar Post now makes ordering and getting delivery in about a day a reality for customers”.

Tesco Asia sale plan comes under fire
A sale of the Tesco Asia business by its UK parent would prioritise shareholders over sound long-term economic strategy, says GlobalData. Over the weekend, Tesco announced it had received an expression of interest from an unnamed party to acquire the Tesco business in Malaysia and the Tesco Lotus operation in Thailand. The company has subsequently launched a review of options for the Tesco Asia operations. Hakan Demirci, consumer analyst at GlobalData, described a sale as outgoing CEO Dave Lewis’s plan to appease shareholders with a reported valuation of £7.1bln for the 2000 stores. However, he said this would neglect the long-term importance of Asia to Tesco. “If these markets were to be sold, Tesco would be left with operations in the UK, Ireland and Central Europe. This would leave the group vulnerable as it loses its benefit of regional diversification, resulting in a less dynamic and flexible company. This vulnerability would leave the group exposed, as it continues to lose share against the meteoric rise of discounters in both the UK and Ireland such as Lidl and Aldi, which GlobalData expects will continue to gain market share throughout 2020”, he said.

Belgium: Jumbo stores outstrip expectations
Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo has exceeded all expectations with its first three stores in Belgium: each of the stores is reported to have had average weekly turnovers of 350,000 euros. Jumbo however chose not to confirm the results. The figures, attributed to "various internal sources" by Distrifood, are significantly higher than those of their Dutch counterparts, although the latter are often a lot smaller than the average size of 2000 sqm of the three Belgian Jumbo stores. The retailer chose not to comment on the figures, but CFO Ton Van Veen had stated a few weeks ago that his first Belgian store, in Pelt, performed 50 % better than expected and "turnover exceeded our wildest expectations".

UAE: ADAFSA signs agreement to supply Local Harvest products to Lulu Group
Under the patronage and presence of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), the authority has signed an agreement with LuLu Group, to supply “Local Harvest” products of Abu Dhabi farms. The agreement is part of ADAFSA's efforts to ensure the competitiveness of local products in markets and support the sustainability of the agriculture and food security sector. On the sidelines of SIAL Middle East 2019, the agreement was signed by H.E. Saeed Al Bahri Salem Al Ameri, Director-General of ADAFSA, and Mr. Yusuffali Musliam, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Hypermarket Group.

7-Eleven Japan has been underpaying staff for up to 50 years
Investigators have discovered 7-Eleven Japan to have been underpaying staff since the 1970s, according to a Nikkei report. The review uncovered inaccuracies in the formula used by the retailer to calculate overtime wages for part-time staff since the business was established. The error resulted in staff earning less than mandated by Japan’s Labour Standards Act. All staff payment calculations are performed by the 7-Eleven Japan’s head office, which guide payment levels for franchise operators. The company, which was first alerted to the problem in October, has responded by promising to compensate around 30,000 affected staff for underpayments going back as far as the company has kept its archives since March 2012. Staff seeking compensation for underpayments dating from before that time can be paid if they have preserved records.

Belgium: Carrefour introduces bags made of ocean waste
Carrefour Belgium has announced that it has introduced a new range of reusable and recyclable carrier bags derived from ocean waste. The new range includes three varieties: a tote bag, a trolley bag, and a foldable bag with a pouch. The retailer has collaborated with Seaqual, an organisation that cleans up the oceans and seabed, for sourcing the plastics used in making these bags. Around 10 kilograms of plastics are used in the production of approximately 100 bags, the retailer added.

UK: Andover Ocado warehouse set to be rebuilt after fire
An Ocado warehouse that was destroyed by fire is set to be rebuilt. The distribution centre, in Andover, Hampshire, for the online food retailer burned for four days in February - at its height more than 300 firefighters fought the blaze. The new warehouse, at the same site, will be similar in size and will be fitted with three sprinkler tanks - one more than the original building. If the plans are approved it is expected to take a year to build. About 1,700 staff are expected to work at the new warehouse - 300 more than before.

Auchan suffers losses at its French hypermarkets
France-based trade publication Linéaires has reported how Auchan’s hypermarkets in France reportedly recorded a loss in 2018, for the first time in their history. The reports suggest Auchan’s hypermarkets made a loss of €155mln in 2018, with the loss expected to continue in 2019, albeit it is likely to only be half that recorded in the previous year. Linéaires said sales had fallen at 70% of Auchan’s hypermarkets in France, with 60% of the total estate suffering a fall of between 0% and 4%, with the rest experiencing sales contractions of even more than 4%.

Belgium: Carrefour opens ‘revolutionary’ concept in Brussels
Convenience store chain Carrefour Express has opened a pilot store in Brussels according to a new concept, which features fresh produce and organic food and tests the water for more 'blurring'. The new store opened near Brussels Central Station, and has franchise director Giosino Cornacchia purring with delight: "It will be a revolution!", he promises RetailDetail in an exclusive preview. "We have limited shelf space for long-lasting products, in order to focus on everything fresh: bakery, delicatessen, fruit and vegetables... We will also showcase organic food products and the Carrefour private label. Next to the store there will be a corner with tables and chairs, in which customers can enjoy the products they bought in the salad bar, soup bar or pizza bar".

Amazon's Deliveroo deal put in jeopardy by UK regulator's 'serious concerns'
Amazon’s purchase of a stake in online food delivery group Deliveroo has been put in doubt by Britain’s competition regulator which said it raised “serious competition concerns” for consumers and may require an in-depth investigation. Amazon led a $575mln fundraising in Deliveroo in May, making what the two parties called “a minority investment” and pitching it against Uber Eats, Just Eat and in the global race to dominate the market for takeaway meal deliveries. The deal would allow Amazon to participate in the management of Deliveroo, which has grown rapidly since being founded in 2013. It now has global sales of close to 500mln pounds ($642mln) and operates in over 100 towns and cities across Britain. Neither company has disclosed a figure for Amazon’s funding contribution.

US: H-E-B mobile app gets makeover
H-E-B has rolled out its new My H-E-B mobile app to make it easier for customers to shop on their phones or tablets. “The new My H-E-B mobile app is a perfect example of how we are investing in new technologies to enhance our digital services and establish H-E-B as a digital retail leader”, said Jag Bath, H-E-B chief digital officer. “We continue to grow our talented H-E-B digital team in Austin and at our company headquarters in San Antonio to deliver on this investment and provide the best possible digital experience to our customers and partners”.

US: Wegmans distribution center to bring 700 jobs to Hanover
Wegmans Food Markets plans to build a $175mln regional distribution center in Hanover County, Virginia, creating 700 jobs, Governor Ralph Northam announced. The campus, which will be located along Sliding Hill and Ashcake Roads off Interstate 95 in Ashland, will expand the grocer’s distribution network on the East Coast. Operations will start in 2022 and be fully operational by the end of the year with 600 employees, a Wegmans spokeswoman said. The center will be fully staffed at 700 by 2026, they anticipate. In recent years, the Rochester, New York-based supermarket chain has expanded its footprint in Virginia. It has 101 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

US: United Natural Foods, Inc. reports first quarter fiscal 2020 results
United Natural Foods, Inc. (the "Company" or "UNFI") reported financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 (13 weeks) ended November 2, 2019. First quarter fiscal 2020 highlights: Net sales increased to $6.0bln, including an incremental $3.1bln from SUPERVALU; Re-affirms guidance for full year net sales, adjusted EPS, and adjusted EBITDA; Balance sheet reflects addition of approximately $1bln in operating lease assets and liabilities as UNFI adopts new lease accounting standard (ASC 842); GAAP results reflect non-cash goodwill and asset impairment charge.

Walmart surges ahead of Amazon for online US grocery: Retail Feedback Group
On the heels of Winsight Grocery Business’ inaugural Grocery Digital Maturity Benchmark study comes a report gauging consumer sentiments from the Lake Success, New York-based Retail Feedback Group (RFG), whose new data reveals that Walmart is surging ahead of Amazon as the most preferred online grocery provider. More than half of the shoppers participating in RFG’s 2019 U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study reported that they’ve either tried or shopped with only one online grocery provider in the past 12 months. Of that panel, 37% have turned to Walmart for online groceries. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain’s digital grocery dominance paced Amazon’s 29% penetration among shoppers who identified the provider they’ve used on their most recent online grocery shopping experience. When evaluating overall satisfaction among those buying food and grocery items online, RFG’s study insights found that Amazon (at 4.60, a drop from 4.70 last year) still garners the highest score on a five-point scale, where five is the highest, followed by Walmart (4.45, a drop from 4.54 last year) and supermarkets/food stores (4.43, an improvement from last year’s 4.36 points).

US: Kroger expands partnership with Walgreens
The Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance are ratcheting up their partnership by forming a group purchasing organization (GPO) aimed at delivering purchasing efficiencies, lower costs and combined resources "to help drive further innovation." The new joint venture will be called Retail Procurement Alliance. "This collaboration is an extension of the strategic collaboration announced last year to create value for customers and shareholders of both companies", said Gary Millerchip, Kroger's CFO. "Kroger and Walgreens share a commitment to finding value and efficiency improvements by increasing innovation and competition through sourcing. This concept brings together the best of two great organizations to reinvent critical components of our sourcing practices".

US: Tariffs have mixed effects on grocery industry, shoppers
The new tariffs born of the trade war between the United States and China have had positive and negative effects on the grocery industry, with future impacts still unknown, according to a new report from CPG industry sales and marketing agency Acosta. “The Impact of U.S. Tariffs on the Grocery Industry” shows how tariffs have shaped grocery item prices since late summer 2019 and presents the perspectives of consumers, manufacturers and retailers. “Tariffs are already impacting the average consumer and are expected to escalate”, said Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence at Jacksonville, Florida-based Acosta. “U.S. tariffs imposed on China have cost the average American household $600 per year, and that impact is expected to rise to $1,000 per year if the late 2019 tariffs take effect. It’s a difficult situation for manufacturers and retailers as well. Manufacturers are at the mercy of government decisions, and it is creating friction between manufacturers and retailers as to who will bear the costs of price increases”.

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