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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.

<<567891011121314>> Total issues:161

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March 01, 2014, to March 15, 2014

“Click-And-Collect” Grocery Shopping Gains Momentum In The Western World

Retail grocery chains are finding that consumers are warming to the idea of buying food and other items on online, driving to the store and picking up their purchases at the curb. Customers may have been reluctant to try “click-and-collect” grocery shopping in the past, but times are changing.  Consumers immersed in e-commerce appear more comfortable with the idea of adding groceries to what they’re already buying online. Wegman’s in the Buffalo, N.Y., area is testing the service for a flat $10 fee; other chains in upstate N.Y. -- and around the U.S. -- are experimenting as well. The Wegman’s service was created in-house, but Dash’s Markets is trying  third-party provider Rosie App. The trend is gathering momentum in Canada and Western Europe and beginning to gain a foothold in large markets in the U.S.

Bharti Seeks Replacement For Walmart In Indian Cash & Carry Grocery Venture

Indian mobile operator Bharti is negotiating with France’s Carrefour and Japan’s Aeon to form a joint venture with one of them. Any new venture partner would replace Walmart, which backed out of a partnership with Bharti last year. Some executives at Bharti prefer a relationship with Carrefour because: it already has a substantial cash-and-carry grocery business in India and would be a “perfect match for Bharti retail”. Whichever company joins the partnership, the retail venture will be structured as before, with Bharti and the foreign retailer forming joint ventures for the both the wholesale and retail ends of the cash and carry business. Although the joint venture is perceived as beneficial for Bharti and the foreign partner, the move could face determined political opposition.

Cerberus To Buy Safeway, Merge It With Albertson’s, Unless Kroger Steps In

Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management has agreed to acquire Safeway, the second largest U.S. retail grocery chain and merge it with Idaho-based Albertsons in a deal worth more than $9 billion. Safeway shareholders will receive $40 a share, including $32.50 in cash. However, the country’s largest grocery chain, Kroger, is reportedly considering making an offer for Safeway as well. Cerberus acquired Albertsons from SuperValu last year, though Kroger outbid Cerberus for the Harris Teeter chain. Safeway CEO Robert Edwards said a merger with Albertson’s "is one of several actions we have taken in recent months as a result of our strategic business review”. 

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February 15, 2014, to March 01, 2014

Tesco Announces Price Cuts And Store Revamp As It Seeks To Drive Sales In UK

UK retailer Tesco is expected to implement price cuts and store renovations to help revive sales in the country. Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke is reportedly planning to present to investors his company’s course of actions in the country, in addition to the £1 billion turnaround plan launched two years ago. In January 2014, the retailer said like-for-like sales dropped 2.5 percent during the Christmas season, compared with the previous year, despite its investment in own-brand food brands and renovation of hypermarkets. In addition to performing worse than its rivals Asda and Sainsbury’s, the retailer is also losing market share to discount retailers Aldi and Lidl, analysts said.

Target Misfires In Canada; Likely To Post Billions In Loss For 2013

U.S. retailer Target is expected to declare an $8 billion to $9 billion loss from its Canadian operations in 2013, according to retail market analysts. Also, market observers are blaming the company’s too rapid expansion in the country by opening 124 stores within months, inventory problems, absence of exclusive brands carried by U.S. stores in the company’s Canadian outlets, and local consumers’ perception that prices are higher than those in the home country. Target adopted a strategy used by rival Walmart, which came to Canada 20 years ago, by buying the stores of a distressed discount chain —in this case, Zellers. After its rapid expansion in 2013, Target now focuses on improving its Canadian operations, according to Target spokesman Eric Hausman.

Taco Bell Targets Huge Fast-Food Breakfast Market With New Menu

Taco Bell, not known for breakfast foods, has decided to compete with McDonald’s – and grab a slice of the $50 billion fast-food breakfast market – by beefing up its breakfast menu. The company famous for its easy-on-the-wallet tacos and burritos says it will “reinvent breakfast” with a morning menu that will feature portable foods that might seem exotic to devotees of the Egg McMuffin. Among the new items to be unveiled on March 27 are a Waffle Taco packed with sausage or bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese and syrup; a tortilla with scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese, and bacon or sausage; and pastries filled with Cinnabon frosting and coated with sugar.

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February 01, 2014, to February 15, 2014

Aldi Launches Line Of Facial Skin Care Products

Discount retailer Aldi plans to launch its Lacura Clear Effect Face Care line of skincare products. Researchers from the MyDaily magazine tested the products from the line, including Clear Effect Face Care 3 in 1 Cleanser, Daily Facial Gel Wash, Mattifying Moisturiser, Tinted Day Cream, and Soothing Night Cream. After putting the products to the test, the researchers revealed their full verdict, including the 3 in 1 Cleanser, which they said smells too much of a chemical but it gets the job done gently and as good as the higher-end brands. Also, the Daily Facial Gel Wash comes with a pungent smell but leaves the skin feeling fresh and removes makeup easily, test results revealed.

Wal-Mart Stores Expects New Office In California Will Employ 1,000 E-Commerce Pros

Wal-Mart Stores, which ranks fourth on the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500, has opened an office for its global e-commerce unit in Sunnyvale, Calif. The office will eventually support 1,000 professionals; the San Bruno, Calif., office employs 1,500. Staff at the new office will focus on projects related to online and mobile shopping. The company chose the Sunnyvale location because of the “talent density” in the area, including design, app and user interface expertise. Wal-Mart Stores is expanding its e-commerce capabilities, including through its San Bruno @WalMartLabs division whose mission is e-commerce research and development.

Independent Pizza Shops Take It On The Chin As “Big Pizza” Thrives On Web Ordering

The move by big pizza chains to Web-based ordering systems – now accounting for 40 percent of total sales – has put the squeeze on less technologically savvy, poorer independent chains and shops. Large pizza chains, which already have marketing clout and lower cost ingredients, accounted for 52 percent of pizza orders, while the share for independents dropped to 29 percent from 31.5 percent. One pizza shop owner in Ohio reports a 20 percent decline in sales as a result of the Webification of pizza ordering. One possible solution for the little guys is online food ordering companies like Chicago-based GrubHub Seamless, which usually take a cut of online sales transacted via their platform.

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January 15, 2014, to February 01, 2014

Asda Padded Prices Before New Year's Discount Promo To Make Them Seem Cheaper, Study Shows

Walmart’s UK unit Asda raised prices on more than 100 products before lowering them to 50p as part of its New Year price campaign, according to independent researchers. Results of the study conducted by retail analysts at BrandView.com and published in the trade magazine “The Grocer” revealed Asda reduced the price of 246 product lines to 50p on January 1, 2014, to promote its “offer more value than ever” campaign. Despite this promise of low prices, the average price of 155 products in the same categories with those sold by rivals Tesco and Sainsbury’s actually rose by an average of 46 percent during the same time. Other retailers have been using similar strategies as a means of attracting customers who are looking for ways to stretch their shopping budget.

Subscription Service The Next Big Thing For Online Retail In 2014, Analysts Say

Ecommerce companies are forecast to adopt subscription-based sales platforms in 2014, driven by growing consumer demand for instant gratification and the expanding adoption of mobile devices, according to market research firm Gartner Inc. Online sellers of digital products, such as music, video, and games, are expected to take the lead in adopting subscription services; however, physical goods, such as cosmetics and snacks, are also forecast to become popular. Among the companies trying the subscription waters are Birchbox with the 400,000 subscribers to its cosmetics service and JustFab, which has secured $55 million in funding by convincing investors about the merits of its fashion subscription service. Subscription services offer many advantages for online retailers, such as a regular income, more chances to upsell, and the ability to create deeper interactions with customers. There are also some issues that need to be considered, such as the need to convince customers to stay with the service each month and the inability of current software to manage subscription fully.

Digital Technology Will Help Boost Growth In Various Markets, Study Shows

Digital technology is forecast to boost growth rates for digitally contestable markets, such as healthcare and finance, according to market consulting firm Accenture. Data from the report “Remaking Customer Markets: How Digital Unlocks New Paths to Growth” revealed, for example, that although the core healthcare market in the United States is forecast to grow 2.5 percent annually in 2012–2018, digital technology, such as remote diagnostics and electronic records management, will help push up annual growth rates to 3.3 percent. In the UK, meanwhile, the financial services market is expected to grow 2.0 percent annually during the same period; however, the digital contested market is expected to achieve annual growth rate of 2.9 percent, driven by digital technology-enabled trends, such as crowd funding and virtual wallet. Accenture also said the impact of the digitally contestable shopping, paying, and healthcare markets in 2018 is forecast to be $5.9 trillion for the U.S. economy, €747 billion for Germany’s economy, and £519 billion for the UK.

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January 01, 2014, to January 15, 2014

Wal-Mart Turns To Online Sales For Growth

Talking to Fortune magazine, Neil Ashe, Wal-Mart’s head of e-commerce, said that the boundaries between offline and online are blurring as consumers increasingly expect a seamless transition between the two. Wal-Mart has been relatively late to e-commerce, but Ashe’s remit is to make e-commerce central in the retailer’s strategy. Consumers are becoming used to choosing from a variety of purchasing and delivery/collection options, and Amazon has been at the forefront of this change, with innovations like its Prime service. Wal-Mart gets it too, but it has done little to compete with Amazon online. Ashe sees the way forward for Wal-Mart as leveraging its existing assets and making them “contemporary”, and since joining Wal-Mart in 2012 he has been acquiring tech startups, allowing the retailer to trial social gifting and subscription boxes. Wal-Mart has a long way to go for its e-commerce effort to “move the needle”, but Ashe says it is learning. 

Online Grocers Continue To Address Negative Comparisons With Traditional Supermarkets

Online grocery shopping has had limited appeal, restricted by negative consumer perceptions of selection, price and delivery options, but competition in the market is changing that. This Wall Street Journal writer organized a shopping comparison and found that some online services are performing close to offline stores in terms of selection and convenience, and also price, driven by the expansion of online retailers like Peapod and FreshDirect, as well as the launch of AmazonFresh. Walmart has been trialing its Walmart To Go service in two cities, and further impetus is coming from new services, such as Instacart. Having others choose your food still puts off many from using online services, but for others it’s an advantage. There remain a number of issues still to address, such as minimum orders, what to do with all the delivery boxes, and product substitutions, but the retailers are taking notice and competition will help ensure these problems are ironed out.

Online Christmas Sales Booming In The UK, Driven By Mobile

Analysis of sales in the UK for the Christmas 2013 period shows that some of multichannel retailers were seeing continued switching from offline to online purchasing. Sales at John Lewis were up 6.9% on a like-for-like basis in the five weeks to 28 December 2013, but online sales jumped 22.6%. johnlewis.com contributed nearly 32% of all John Lewis sales in this period. Its Click & Collect orders were up over 62%. House of Fraser saw like-for-like sales increase 7.3% in the three weeks to 28 December, but online sales were up nearly 58%. The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark shows that online sales on Boxing Day 2013 were up over 40% on the same day in 2012. Mobile commerce is gaining traction. Christmas Day traffic from mobile phones and tablets represented three quarters of total online traffic, and IBM data for Boxing Day show that 58% of online traffic came from mobile devices, and particularly smartphones (nearly 30% of all online traffic), but the tablet was the device of choice for those making purchases (29.4% of online sales). 

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December 15, 2013, to January 01, 2014

Wal-Mart Plans Expansion For Sam's Club Wholesale Business In China

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to expand its Sam’s Club wholesale operations in China as part of its efforts to grow its business in China, currently one of the retailer’s most difficult markets. At present, the company operates 10 Sam’s Club stores in China, a country of more than 1.34 billion people, while in the United States, with 300 million people, Walmart operates 550 Sam’s Club stores. Walmart China chief executive Roger Foran said his company plans to open more Sam’s Clubs in China in 2014, eventually reaching 10 new stores per year in 6–7 years.

Sephora Opens First Retail Store In Thailand

Cosmetics retailer Sephora is opening its first retail store in Thailand. Located at the Siam Center shopping complex in Bangkok, the new store will have an area of 600 square meters and will offer many exclusive brands including Tarte, Amazing Cosmetics, and For Beloved One. Own-brand products, including color cosmetics, hair care, skincare, bath and body care, will also be available for Thai consumers.

Discount Retailers Gain Share Of UK Grocery Market, Kantar Says

In the UK, 50.1 percent of all households shopped for groceries in either Aldi or Lidl during the 12-week period ending December 8, 2013, compared with 46.1 percent during the same period in the previous year, according to Kantar Woldpanel. Data from the market research firm revealed value remains a powerful motivation for UK shoppers, helping the discount retailers to grow their share of the grocery market. Both discounters have maintained their double-digit growth rates, according to Kantar Worldpanel director Chris Longbottom. In contrast, all the big four grocers and the Co-operative have lost market share during the period, according Kantar Worldpanel.

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December 01, 2013, to December 15, 2013

L'Oreal Paris Launches Online Store In Middle East

Cosmetics company L’Oréal Paris partnered with online fashion store Mooda.com to launch its first ecommerce platform in the Middle East, making its products available for customers in the United Arab Emirates. Aimed at presenting a total look for both the website and the cosmetics company’s products, the deal will allow shoppers to access product photos and information and buy them online. Featuring Arabic and English language interfaces, the online store offers a mix of editorial content and shopping.

Fast Growing Africa Presents Opportunities And Challenges For Consumer Goods Companies

Africa is now the world’s second fastest growing region, with gross domestic product growing at an estimated 6 percent across the continent’s 54 countries in 2012, data from the International Monetary Fund revealed. Data also revealed that consumption from an emerging white-collar middle class in most countries in the continent, driven in part by the growing industries, such as telecommunications, banking, and services, is pushing economic growth in the region. In South Africa, as well as in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, Kenya, and Cameroon, the increase in middle-class consumption has driven growth in industries, such as packaged food, clothing, and electronics. These economic trends in Africa have encouraged an increasing number of multinational brands of fast-moving consumer goods to expand into the continent. Market research firm Euromonitor says, however, companies venturing into the region should keep in mind that every African country offers a unique set of business opportunities and challenges; hence, a blanket approach to doing business in the region will simply not work.

Walmart Expands India Technology Center

Walmart is expanding its Walmart Labs technology center in Bangalore, India, as part of its efforts to expand its capabilities to compete with ecommerce rival Amazon. Currently employing 400 people, the technology center will hire more people to expand its workforce by more than double, according to unidentified sources at Walmart’s India unit. Walmart Labs, which currently has about 200 employees in the United States, plans to expand its information systems unit that develops software and applications for combining its online and traditional retail operations.

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November 15, 2013, to December 01, 2013

McMillon, Former Summer Associate, Named Walmart CEO

Walmart Stores has named Doug McMillon, 47, as CEO, succeeding Mike Duke effective February 1, 2014. McMillon began his Walmart career in 1984 as a summer associate in a distribution center.  He rejoined the company in 1990, while pursuing his MBA. Much of his 22-year career has been in merchandising in the U.S. division, with experience in food, apparel and general merchandise. From 2006 to February 2009, McMillon served as president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club.

Asda Aims For Morrisons' Jugular With Latest TV Ad

Asda began airing a television commercial entitled “Spot the Difference,” which focused on its cheaper price for the Bold 2in1 Gel Lavender & Camomile 888-millileter laundry detergent than what is offered by rival Morrisons. Launched after Morrisons raised its price for the Bold detergent back up to £6.40, the ad was seen by market analysts as a sign of Asda’s concern about its rival’s use of discounts to lure shoppers. Morrisons’ deep discount strategy covers several key grocery lines, including Christmas tins of Celebrations, Roses and Quality Street, and Baileys.

Key Trends That Will Dominate The Food And Beverage World Of 2014

Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert predicts that ten trends will dominate the food and beverage world in 2014.The underlying current of the trends is the ever-changing relationship of health-conscious consumers with merchants, brands and food generally. At the top of the trend list is the emergence of the “IndieWoman”: a “major food influencer”. There are 31 million of them and they spend $50 billion a year on food and beverages. They are aged 27 and older, live alone, have no kids, are active socially, concerned about career growth and love to shop. Other trends focus on healthy snacking, loyalty to brands involved in social causes, reliance on smartphones when grocery shopping, etc.

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November 01, 2013, to November 15, 2013

Walmart Launches Great Value Naturals Line Of Environment-Friendly Cleaning Products

Walmart announced the Great Value Naturals line of cleaning products made from natural ingredients. Available in more than 2,000 Walmart stores across the United States, the all-natural cleaning products are as effective as the leading brands of conventional cleaning products, the company said. Sold exclusively at Walmart, the products are made from plant-based Evolve cleaning technology and are 100 percent free from chemicals and toxins. They are biodegradable, non-allergenic and packaged in recyclable materials, the company added.

Peapod Shows Amazon And Walmart How To Sell Groceries Online

Peapod, which has been operating for more than 20 years, is growing steadily and is considered as the largest online grocery delivery company, according to market analyst The NPD Group. Ranked number 55 in the top 500 Internet retail properties for 2013, Peapod faces serious competition from the number 1 online retailer, Amazon, and number 4, Walmart, both of which enjoy huge advantages in terms of resources over the older retailer. One thing going for Peapod, however, is its success with the mobile platform, which lets customers create shopping lists and order groceries using their smartphones. In contrast, Walmart has yet to create a mobile app for its Walmart-To-Go online delivery service.

Walmart Plans To Develop Small Community Shopping Centers In China

Walmart plans to develop small community shopping centers in China’s third- and fourth-tier cities, replicating its U.S. small-town community-based stores approach in the country. Walmart’s development strategy, which involves selecting locations in less popular cities including those in Guangdong Province, has been described as a smart move by market analysts, such as Wang Rong, vice president of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants’ Greater China office. With a Walmart supermarket or a Sam’s Club membership warehouse as the planned shopping centers’ anchor tenant, Walmart will not find it difficult to recruit other businesses as tenants. Despite market analysts’ endorsement of Walmart’s expansion plans in China, the retailer has been very cautious with its strategy, driven mainly by growing market competition. Commercial real estate investments in the country reached $82 billion in the first half of 2013 alone, with as many as 150 shopping centers opening or have been opened this year.

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October 15, 2013, to November 01, 2013

Aldi Opens 500th Store In UK

Aldi is opening its 500th branch in UK, highlighting the German supermarket company’s success in competing against the country’s largest retailers, including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose. More significantly, the country’s middle class accounts for 12.9 percent of Aldi’s regular customers in 2012, a figure that has risen to 18.6 percent in 2013, according to retail market research firm Verdict. While most shoppers still come to Aldi for its cheap staples, an increasing number of customers are shopping for the retailer’s delicacies. Voted by the consumer group Which? as the best supermarket in the country for two straight years, Aldi offers wine and own-label chocolates, yogurts, bacons, and other food products that regularly win prizes from the “Grocer” magazine. Aldi’s ability to sell relatively high-quality products at very affordable prices is hinged on the company’s demand for low prices from its suppliers and its focus on  a small range of goods.

Waitrose Has Big Plans For Sales Growth Over Next Decade

One of the smaller of the U.K.’s chain grocers, Waitrose, is challenging itself to increase annual sales by 300 percent over the next 10 years. The company plans to invest £300 million annually to open 20 new stores a year while building its online business. The goal is to take its annual sales from £5.3 billion to £15 billion by 2023. The company says it has been outperforming competitors like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda for more than four years by as much as seven percent, offering value, “aspirational quality”, and innovative products.

Increased Traffic Drives Profit Growth At Chipotles, Despite Rising Costs

Chipotle fast-casual Mexican restaurants have experienced higher traffic and thus higher sales and profit over recent fiscal quarters, but the company is still set on raising prices three to five percent to offset higher ingredient prices. Part of the cost inflation problem lies in the company’s decision to replace genetically modified ingredients in its menu items with non-GMO ingredients. But the costs of other ingredients have risen as well, including tomatoes, corn, tomatillos, dairy and chicken. The costs of food, beverages and packaging rose 21 percent, accounting for 33.6 percent of total revenue. Nevertheless, profit in the third quarter rose 15 percent.
<<567891011121314>> Total issues:161
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