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Retail Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

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September 01, 2018, to December 01, 2018

Waitrose Has Accelerated Its Work To Eradicate Single-Use Plastic In Own-Label Packaging

Upmarket UK grocery retailer Waitrose has accelerated its commitment to making own-brand packaging more recyclable, reusable or compostable, bringing forward its 100 per cent target from 2015 to 2023. It has hit the 70 per cent level already and expects to reach 80 per cent by 2020. It says it is also close to taking all its own-label fruit, vegetables, meat and fish out of black plastic by the end of 2018, and will stop selling its own-label products in black plastic after the end of next year. 

Global Companies Join The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

Nearly 300 organizations have has joined a global initiative to eliminate plastic waste. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment signatories include recycling companies, packaging producers and  retailers. It was announced at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 'Our Ocean' conference in Bali, and was launched in collaboration with UN Environment. The initiative has three main aims: eradicate unnecessary plastic and move away from single-use packaging; work towards 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025; and to circulate plastic by increasing the volume of plastics that can be converted into new products or packaging. CPG companies that have signed up include Johnson & Johnson, SC Johnson, Danone, L’Oréal, Mars, PepsiCo, Unilever and Coca-Cola. Other signatories include Walmart, Target, Carrefour, Metro AG, Lidl, Ahold Delhaize, H&M, Amcor and Novamont.  

Brand Sites Are Losing Out To Multi-Brand Giants

New research finds that only around 10% of online shoppers are visiting brand sites, which are losing out to sites like Amazon. inRiver’s survey also found that consumers lose interest quickly and will move on if they can’t quickly find the information they want. The firm said that brands and retailers must take more care when selling online and consider issues such as the role of influencers and videos that showcase products, as well as providing comprehensive product information and reviews.

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August 01, 2018, to September 01, 2018

Morrisons Steps Up Fight Against Single-Use Plastic By Removing Cucumber Sleeves

UK supermarket chain Morrisons is responding to the call for less single-use plastic in packaging by removing the plastic sleeves on cucumbers, although the Cucumber Growers’ Association claims that the shrink-wrap keeps the cucumber hydrated and helps prevent it being damaged. Removing the sleeve reduces shelf life by two days to five. The move only applies at the moment to whole cucumbers sourced from the UK and Netherlands. Mini and pre-cut cucumbers will also retain their plastic covering. The move follows other initiatives from the chain, including replacing plastic bags in the produce aisles with brown paper bags, and selling at a discount reusable containers on its fresh meat and fish counters.

Brandless Secures $240-Million Investment From Softbank

Japan's Brandless Inc. revealed Softbank's $100-billion Vision Fund investment unit has invested $240 million in the online retailer. In three previous rounds of funding, the online seller of exclusively own-brand, generic daily household products had easily secured $51 million. According to Softbank managing partner Jeff Housenbold, Brandless' data focus and its ability to create excitement around ordinary products have convinced the bank to invest in the online retailer.

Which? Study Shows A Third Of Plastic Packaging Used By UK Retailers Hard To Recycle

Results of an analysis by Which?, a consumer group, revealed that as much as 29 percent of plastic packaging used by UK retailers is non-recyclable through the usual collection schemes or hard to recycle. Results of the study of packaging used for 27 everyday private-label products sold by 10 leading retail chains showed Lidl had the lowest percentage of easily recyclable packaging at 71 percent. Morrisons topped the results with 81 percent of tested products with packaging considered widely recyclable.

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February 15, 2018, to August 01, 2018

International Companies Urge India’s Maharashtra State To Ease Plastic Ban

Multinational corporations, including Amazon and H&M, are reportedly urging the state of Maharashtra in India to relax its recently approved ban on single-use plastic. Coming after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign for an end to the use of single-use plastic in the country by 2022, the state’s move is expected to raise operating costs for companies. Retailers and beverage manufactures are among companies that use plastic packaging. Business groups, including the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have called on the government to soften its anti-plastic policies.

Amazon Eyes Prime Day Sale To Grab Market Share From Rival Walmart In India

Seeking to lure consumers away from its rival Walmart-Flipkart, online retailer Amazon plans to launch its 2018 Prime Day sales event in India in close partnership with its US headquarters. Also aimed at driving membership in the company’s Prime customer loyalty program, the sale will feature discounts expected to be bigger than before. Amazon India is also expected to introduce its virtual fitting-room technology Prime Wardrobe, which lets consumers try fashion products before buying them.

Powered by AI, Future Shopping Malls To Highlight Health And Wellness Services

International shopping-center operator Westfield introduced its Destination 2028 retail concept. According to the proposal, the company sees the future shopping mall as a “hyper-connected micro-city,” which is powered by artificial intelligence, and integrates health and wellness services and community involvement. Westfield said the concept was developed based on a growing consumer interest in health and wellness.

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February 01, 2018, to February 15, 2018

Kroger Divests Its C-Store Business

Kroger announced it is selling its convenience store business to British petrol forecourt C-store retailer EG Group. As part of the $2.15 billion deal, EG Group will set up headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, home of Kroger. EVP/CFO Mike Schlotman said the company’s review of assets determined that the C-store business would “better meet its full potential outside of our business." Kroger said it plans to use the proceeds from the sale to repurchase shares and to lower its net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio. 

Israel May Ease Tax Burden To Lure Walmart, Other Retailers

A senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disclosed that Israel is leaning toward loosening the tax structure that makes foreign investment more difficult. Netanyahu economic adviser Avi Simhon said “some drastic changes” – including tax cuts – are needed to lure foreign retailers like Walmart to Israel to help lower the cost of living. Netanyahu spoke with John Furner, a senior Walmart executive, at the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. According to Simhon, the two discussed the idea of Walmart’s opening a retail branch and investing in Israeli technologies after the country eased some regulatory burdens. “The door to Netanyahu’s office is open,” Simhon said. Walmart did not comment on the discussions.

Amazon.com Posts $3B Profit For 2017; Cites Success Of Alexa Platform

Amazon.com posted a full-year profit of $3 billion ($6.15 per share) for 2017 on net sales of $177.9 billion, a sales increase of $41 billion year-over-year. Profit was up $600,000 over 2016. Fourth quarter profit was $1.9 billion ($3.75 a share) on $60.5 billion in sales, compared with a profit of $749 million ($1.54 a share) in the same period in 2016. The company also reported: five billion items shipped with Prime worldwide in 2017; Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot were the best-selling products in 2017; the Alexa Skills store now offers more than 30,000 skills; Alexa Voice Service (AVS) adoption among device makers continues to grow; and new tools and developer kits were introduced. “Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” CEO Jeff Bezos said.

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January 15, 2018, to February 01, 2018

Target Launches Good Chemistry Brand Of Fragrances

Target said it plans to launch Good Chemistry, the retailer's first exclusive fragrance brand. According to the company, the brand includes four collections it says are inspired by different personalities: Confident and Charming, Good and Grounded, Vibrant and Playful, and Cool and Collected. Featuring paraben-free scents, the vegan fragrances are made with essential oils and will be available at all Target branches from January 21, 2018.

Walmart Names McKenna Head Of International Business

Walmart has named its chief operating officer for its domestic operations, Judith McKenna, to head the retail giant's international unit. McKenna's appointment marks a significant milestone for women executives at Walmart, with the international unit viewed as a “stepping stone” to the company's CEO job. Other announcements made by the retailer include plans to raise starting salary to $11 an hour and to close 63 Sam's Club stores.

Walmart Dismisses Thousands Of Store Co-Managers

Walmart is reportedly planning to eliminate about 3,500 co-manager positions in the US market. According to reports, the planned move is aimed at removing “poor performers” and provide “clearer paths to leadership” for aspiring store managers. Meanwhile, the company announced plans to raise its starting salary to $11 an hour and spend $400 million in one-time bonuses to employees.

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January 01, 2018, to January 15, 2018

Walmart Brazil Plans To Combine Physical Stores With Online Retail

Walmart Brazil said it plans to spend $464 million in the next four years to integrate its brick-and-mortar stores with the company's online retail operations. Also, the retailer said it will expand its e-commerce platform to allow third-party retailers to sell goods on its online marketplace.

Kroger Continues To Expand Its Clean-Label Product Offerings

Kroger’s “Simple Truth” product line, which are free from more than a hundred artificial preservatives and other undesirable ingredients such as GMOs and antibiotics, is being expanded, the company announced. Simple Truth brand includes more than 1,400 natural and organic products in categories such as grocery, meat, produce, deli, bakery, baby, household essentials and personal care. New Simple Truth products will debut this year that “align with customer trends, including increasingly popular categories like beverage, snacking and non-animal proteins." The company said Simple Truth 3rd quarter sales grew 19 percent. 

Amazon's Mexico Initiatives Gain Recognition From Euromonitor

In the second half of 2017, online retailer Amazon launched three initiatives in Mexico, market research firm Euromonitor found interesting. In October 2017, the online retailer launched Amazon Cash, a service that allows consumers to load their Amazon accounts with credit by paying in cash at retail locations across the country. Also, Amazon launched its Handmade marketplace for artisan-made products, including jewelry, home décor, and accessories. Amazon also increased its focus on fast-moving consumer goods, such as pet care, beauty, and home care products.

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November 15, 2017, to January 01, 2018

FMCG Spending Grows In China, Report Shows

Consumer spending on fast-moving consumer goods in China grew 5.5 percent during the 12-week period ending November 3, 2017, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Data from the market research firm revealed modern trade expanded 3.1 percent during the period, faster than the same period in the previous year. Also, smaller-store formats grew the fastest, with supermarket and convenience stores growing by 3.9 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, data showed. Among China's largest retailers, Yonghui grew the fastest at 11 percent, while Sun Art group, owner of the RT-mart brand, grew 5.7 percent, reinforcing its market-leading status.

Big Grocery Chains Can Do A Lot To Reduce Food Waste

Three business and management scholars writing in the Harvard Business Review suggest several ways large food retailers – Kroger, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Carrefour, Walmart, etc. – can help reduce food waste in their supply chain, stores, and communities. The four-pronged strategy includes the following suggestions: upgrade inventory systems with the latest technology; partner with farms, where seven percent of U.S. produce is left unharvested; modify or eliminate traditional store practices that increase waste, e.g., focusing too heavily on the cosmetics of produce; and team up with consumers, only three percent of whom attach a social stigma to throwing away food.

Decorate A Yule Log Cake At Home With A Kit From La Madeleine Bakery

La Madeleine French-style bakery has created for the holiday season a decorate-it-yourself kit specifically for yule log cakes, known in France as Bûche de Noël. The kit enables customers to follow the French Christmas tradition of decorating and eating the Bûche de Noël at home with family and friends. The yule log cake starts as a vanilla sheet cake that is topped with chocolate mousse, then rolled into the iconic yule log shape. A fully decorated take-out cake is available for about $32.00. La Madeleine has more than 80 corporate and franchised bakery-cafés in ten states and Washington, D.C.

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November 01, 2017, to November 15, 2017

Carrefour Brasil Reports Strong Profit Gains For 3Q 2017

Grupo Carrefour Brasil, French retailer Carrefour's Brazilian unit, reported net profit almost doubled to 581 million reais, or $179 million, in the third quarter of 2017. For the same quarter in the previous year, the company reported net profit of 292 million reais. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization was 845 million reais, an increase of 6.9 percent compared with the same period in the previous year.

Bezos Aide Steve Keller To Helm Amazon’s Delivery, Grocery, Store Ventures

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has given a longtime aide responsibility for Prime Now, AmazonFresh, as well as the $13.5-billion Whole Foods Market acquisition and brick-and-mortar book and convenience stores. The idea, according to observers, is to facilitate changes across the rapid-delivery and grocery-delivery operations, and the physical facilities. Steve Kessel [left] spent several years managing Amazon’s digital ventures, including books and music. His teams developed the Kindle e-reader Fire tablet in late 2011. After a four-year sabbatical, he returned in 2015 to oversee efforts to reimagine the in-store experience.

Ahold USA Earns Perfect Survey Score On LGBT Workplace Equality

Ahold USA, the parent company of supermarket chains Stop & Shop, Giant, and Martin’s, as well as the grocery shopping/delivery company Peapod, received a perfect score on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The national benchmarking survey and report evaluates corporate policies and practices lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace equality. The high score earned Ahold USA the designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”

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October 15, 2017, to November 01, 2017

Walmart Launches Supermercado Retail Concept In Brazil

Walmart Brasil has launched its Walmart Supermercado retail concept in Brazil. Supported with a R$500 million investment, the business transformation project will see 120 Bompreco, Nacional, and Mercadorama supermarkets adopting the new retail brand during the next four years. Walmart opened its first two Walmart Supermercado stores in Curitiba.

Carrefour Posts Slightly Better Sales Numbers In 3Q 2017

Carrefour reported sales rose 0.5 percent on a like-for-like basis to €21.859 billion in the third quarter of 2017, compared with the same period in the previous year. Effect of currency on the company's revenue was negative 1.5 percent during the quarter, while effects of petrol and calendar were neutral. At constant exchange rates, total sales increased 1.9 percent. Like-for-like sales in France declined 0.9 percent, the company said.

Carrefour Brazil Posts Strong Revenue Performance In 3Q 2017

Carrefour reported its wholesale unit Atacadao posted sales of R$8.5 billion in the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 5.6 percent compared with the same quarter in the previous year. Carrefour Retail reported sales grew 5.0 percent to R$3.7 billion, with life-for-like sales rising 2.5 percent and total gross sales jumping 7.1 percent in the first nine months to RS11.2 billion.

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October 01, 2017, to October 15, 2017

Carrefour Brasil Introduces Online Shopping Service In Sao Paul

Grupo Carrefour Brasil, the French retailer's unit in Brazil, plans to launch an online grocery shopping and rewards platform in Sao Paulo. After raising $1.6 billion in an IPO in July 2017, the company will launch the services through the Meu Carrefour mobile app. According to the company, which has 4 million registered online users, it plans to issue about 100 million coupons each month through the mobile app.

Aldi Plans To Build ₤75-Million Warehouse In UK

German discount retailer Aldi plans to invest ₤75 million to build a distribution center in Bedford, England, to support the company's growing network in the UK. Aldi said it remains committed to expansion plans in the UK retail market despite reporting its third year of declining profit. By 2022, the retailer expects to have 1,000 stores in the country from its current 726 locations.

Lidl Sees Share Of Shopper Traffic Drop In US

Months after opening its stores in the US in June 2017, German discount retailer Lidl saw its share of store visits declined, according to an analysis by location-based data firm inMarket. Local rivals, including Kroger Co. and Wal-Mart, have recovered much of market share they lost when Lidl after Lidl opened its first nine US stores in June 15. Lidl grabbed 11 percent of customer visits to traditional grocers in nine markets in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, inMarket data revealed. Lidl's share of traffic fell below 8 percent in August, inMarket revealed.
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