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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.

<<12345678910>> Total issues:161

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September 01, 2017, to October 01, 2017

Discount Grocer Aldi Gives Big Midwest Competitors A Good Run For Their Money

Data from grocery market researcher Shelby Report show that discount retailer Aldi is making headway in the Midwest against big players like regional retailers and Walmart. Aldi’s market share for its 45 stores in the Kansas/Missouri area was 2.8 percent of total retail sales (all commodity value) of $10.27 billion, compared with 1.5 percent in 2016. Market share in the $13 billion Missouri/Illinois/Indiana/Kentucky market increased from 2.4 percent to 4.4 percent; in the $10.88 billion Minnesota market it grew to 3.2 percent; and in the $18.79 billion Ohio/West Virginia/Kentucky market, it grew to 2.9 percent from 1.6 percent in 2016.

Tesco’s “Turnaround” Fails To Usurp Irish Grocery Chain’s Market Leadership

New market data from Kantar Worldpanel show that the Supervalu grocery chain remained Ireland's largest grocery retailer during the quarter ending in August, despite strong growth by Tesco. Year-on-year sales growth of 0.4 percent kept Supervalu in the top spot, thanks to improvement in the number of items sold per shopping trip at a lower price point. Supervalu has a 22.2 percent share of the grocery market, a slight (0.3 percentage points) drop from last year. Tesco experienced its fourth consecutive period of growth, “a clear indication that it's achieved a turnaround in performance.

Wal-Mart Plans To Build New Corporate Headquarters In Bentonville

Wal-Mart announced plans to build a new corporate headquarters in its hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. According to the retailer, its current setup of separate buildings and offices limits its ability to expand and grow its business. Wal-Mart said a “central campus” will encourage “collaboration and speed” among associates and business units. Also, the planned building will provide employees with “improved parking, meal services, fitness, and natural light,” which will help the company attract the best talents and inspire current workforce to give their best.

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August 01, 2017, to September 01, 2017

Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Portends An Accelerated, Automated Grocerants Trend

“Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert says the $13.7 billion Amazon-Whole Foods deal is likely to speed up development of ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat grocery store items known as “grocerants.” Techno-centered Amazon will bring new intelligence from computer wizards, molecular biologists, and sustainability experts into retail grocery. Lempert says the Amazon-Whole Foods store will apply technology to improve efficiencies and reduce in-store labor costs. That means more robotics in the back room and interactive robots all around the store.

Costco Posts Strong July 2017 Sales Numbers; Thrives Despite Amazon Threat

Costco reported comparable sales grew 6.2 percent in July 2017, compared with the same month in 2016. In the US market, comparable sales grew 6 percent, or 5.6 percent with gasoline sales excluded. Customer visits rose 4.2 percent, a significant contrast with other retailers, which are seeing fewer customer visits. Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, however, poses a threat to Costco's ability to resist the online retailer's competitive advantages, which have been eroding other retailers' market shares. Costco has been expanding its ecommerce presence in order to boost its online retail operations.

Walmart Enlists Big Data To Improve Efficiency

Walmart said it is using big data in five ways to improve operating efficiency, as well as the lives of its customers. To make its pharmacies more efficient, Walmart uses simulations to determine the number of prescriptions filled and the busiest times of the day or month. Using predictive analytics, Walmart stores work to speed up checkout time and improve shopper experience. Also, Walmart simulations to improve supply chain management.

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July 01, 2017, to August 01, 2017

Burger King: No More Human Antibiotics Use In Chicken Supply By 2019

Restaurant Brands International, parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, announced that it will end the use of antibiotics important to human medicine in its chicken supply by the end of 2018. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 11 of the top 15 U.S. restaurant chains have now committed to some level of “responsible antibiotics use” for their chicken supplies. Nearly half of the U.S. chicken industry has either made a no-antibiotics commitment or is already using responsible practices, NRDC said.

Pizza Hut’s Japanese Customers To Have A Quick, Secure Ordering Solution

MasterCard has partnered with Pizza Hut to integrate the Masterpass digital payments technology into the pizza chain’s mobile ordering application. The two companies are launching the initiative in Japan, where time-pressed customers will be able to order pizzas quickly, securely and easily by safely storing credit card information, as well as delivery addresses, in their Masterpass account. Ordering pizzas will require only three clicks on a smartphone, the companies said.

U.K. Supermarket Chain Experiments With Smart Food Label

British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is testing an advanced labeling technology to help customers avoid tossing edible food in the waste bin before its time. The company sticks a color changing label to packets of its own brand sliced ham. The smart label changes from yellow to purple the longer the packet has been open. It is sensitive to temperature as well, because an open pack of ham has a relatively long fridge life when kept below 5º C (41º F). The new label is being used on ham packages in all 601 stores and will be expanded to other foods if consumers like it.

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June 15, 2017, to July 01, 2017

Peapod Fine-Tunes Customers’ Online Search Options

Online grocer Peapod’s smart shopping technology now has more search filters so shoppers can further refine selections based on personal dietary tastes and preferences.. In addition to common search filters like brand preference, price and sale specials, the company now offers 16 nutrition options, including non-GMO, sugar free, vegan, and vegetarian. The new filters were selected based on consumer food and nutritional trend data. For example, 42 percent of consumers read nutrition labels before purchasing, 33 percent of Millennials say they eat a meat alternative product every day, and sales of non-GMO products will hit $330 billion by 2019.

Jet.com Sheds Its Costco Ethos

E-commerce company Jet.com’s co-founder Marc Lore was inspired by the Costco example. Its original business model was based on membership fees, and on bulk sales savings passed on to the customer. But now that it has been acquired by Walmart, and continues to integrate its operations with the giant retailer, it has begun phasing out the Kirkland Signature brand of products, replacing them with products offered under the Sam’s Club Member’s Mark brand. According to analytics provider 1010data, Jet accounted for 5.5 percent of online sales of the Kirkland brand in the first half of 2016, behind Amazon and Costco.com.

Kroger Wins Right To Buy Marsh Supermarkets Locations In Indiana

Kroger Co. secured the right to acquire 11 Marsh Supermarkets stores in Indiana through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. According to court filings, Kroger's Topvalco Inc. unit will buy seven stores in the Indianapolis area and two each in Bloomington and Muncie for $16 million. At present, Kroger's Indiana division operates 137 stores, including 24 locations in Indianapolis.

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June 01, 2017, to June 15, 2017

Facebook Expands Food Order/Delivery Feature On Desktops And Phones

Facebook users are now able to tap an icon on their smartphone or desktop to place food pickup and delivery orders from participating restaurants that use Delivery.com or Slice. The innovation means users needn’t leave the Facebook platform to visit a restaurant or delivery site. The new feature expands a deal with the two online ordering businesses announced last October that allowed Facebook users to order food from Facebook pages of supported restaurants using a “Start Order” button. The “Order Food” icon eliminates the need to visit restaurant sites because all participating restaurants are listed together on the user's Facebook page.

Fnac-Darty’s CEO To Be Named Head Of Carrefour

Alexandre Bompard, 44, is expected to be named CEO of retail chain Carrefour on June 18, and will work alongside current CEO Georges Plassat for a year “to help him settle in.” Bompard is CEO of Fnac-Darty, a French retailer that sells entertainment and leisure products, consumer electronics, and household appliances. Bompard has been a success as head of Fnac-Darty by at least one benchmark: the company’s share price has nearly tripled in the last four years.

Inflation Boosts U.K. Grocery Sales Numbers

Growth in the U.K.’s retail grocery segment is being fueled partly by rising inflation, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Inflation stood at 2.9 percent for the 12-week period ending May 21, while overall sales rose 3.8 percent, the best in four years. Sales at Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco grew collectively by 1.6 percent in the period, while sales at German discounters Aldi and Lidl were up 19.2 percent over last year and reached a record market share of 12 percent. Sixty-two percent of the U.K. population shopped in an Aldi or Lidl during the past 12 weeks, compared to 58 percent a year ago. That amounts to an additional 1.1 million households shopping at either of the stores.

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May 15, 2017, to June 01, 2017

Get Revenge On Internet Trollers With A Cake

People victimized by Internet trolls and their hateful online comments can repay the perps with a cake, as long as they know the troller’s actual physical address. For a fee of $35, Brooklyn’s Troll Cakes Bakery and Detective Agency will bake a cake, decorate it with the troll’s hateful words, and then deliver it right to their door. Even if they don’t know the address – this is where the “detective agency” takes over – for $60 the service will research an unknown address and take it from there. The company even has a service for Donald Trump haters: it will decorate a cake with a customer’s favorite Trump tweet (or nasty comment) and send it to the White House. It’s called the “Tiny Hands Special.” 

Minnesota Shop Offers Some Bonkers Donut Variations

The Glam Doll Donuts shop in Minneapolis is stretching the concept of “doughnuts” to the nth degree, and succeeding admirably. The shop’s ring-shaped concoctions – sweet traditional, breaded and fried mac and cheese (at $8 a pop), alcohol-infused, egg and bacon (sandwiches), sriracha and peanut butter, etc. – are especially popular on social media. Traditional treats include the glazed Sugar Kane, the salted caramel and chocolate Calendar Girl, and the tres leches (sponge cake) Peek-a-Boo. That’s just for starters. Everything gets great reviews online, including the mac and cheese, which one reviewer described as: “Warm, gooey, and crunchy with a side of chili. A belly bomb for sure, and worth it.” 

Einstein Bros. Unveils High Octane Bagel For That Added AM Jolt

Einstein Bros. bagel chain has debuted limited-availability bagel packed with caffeine and protein. Espresso Buzz Bagel contains 32mg of caffeine – about half the caffeine in a six-ounce cup of coffee – sourced from both espresso and coffee-cherry flour. Company is also offering a 600-calorie breakfast sandwich based on the Buzz Bagel that features bacon and eggs. New line of innovative Boosted Bagels also includes a sweet, oat-topped Cherry Chia Bagel and Savory Parm Bagel.

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May 01, 2017, to May 15, 2017

Watsons Kiosk In Shanghai Features YouCam Makeup App, Allows Customers To Virtually Try On Cosmetics

Retailer Watsons' flagship store in Shanghai features a kiosk that comes with augmented-reality-powered facial detection technology. Developed by Perfect Corporation, the YouCam makeup app allows customers to try on more than 30 products from leading makeup brands, such as MaxFactor, Maybelline, and Kate Cosmetics.

Year-Old Chain Of Quick Food Stores Succeeds With Healthful Meals

Convenience and nutrition are the watchwords of a rapidly-expanding chain of grab-and-go stores founded in Omaha, Neb., with outlets in Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, South Dakota, and Iowa. Eat Fit Go stores are based on a simple, but compelling, concept: fast packaged meals that are healthful. That means fresh, pre-portioned foods high in protein, low in sodium, mostly gluten-free and preservative-free, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The owners plan to open 100 more stores in 2017 – in Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota and Oklahoma – while introducing an e-commerce platform for home delivery.

British Retailer Begins Revamping, Closing Stores

British department store chain Marks & Spencer is closing six stores as part of its planned operational overhaul, but vows to find jobs for all 380 employees affected by the move. The company said last year that closings and store conversions were in the offing to trim the amount of floor space devoted to faltering clothing lines. Thirty full-line U.K. stores – they sell homeware, clothing, and food – will be closed, while 45 will become food-only shops. The company has had to face the reality that customer shopping habits are changing: people don’t do “one big shop” anymore, and they often buy online and pick up in store. Even with the closings, the company is launching new stores, with 34 food and two full-line shops employing 1,400 staff coming online in the next six months.

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April 15, 2017, to May 01, 2017

Starbucks Unveils Gluten-Free Menu Items

One of the more fascinating phenomena in the food industry in recent years has been the transformation of gluten into a dirty word. A tiny fraction of Americans with celiac disease, a severe intestinal allergic reaction to gluten, needs to avoid the wheat protein. But a whole anti-gluten movement – and a multibillion-dollar industry – has arisen to accommodate people convinced that gluten is generally unhealthful. Researcher Technavio says the gluten-free food market is expected to grow at an annual rate of roughly 12 percent through 2021, Tecnomics advises food companies to go along: "if you're not speaking their language, you risk losing [them]." The latest company to “speak their language” is Starbucks, which is launching gluten-free food options – like the gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon and egg sandwich – in U.S. stores.  

Chipotle Continues To Rid Its Food Of Artificial Ingredients

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it has eliminated all added colors, flavors and preservatives from the ingredients it uses to prepare its food, but not beverages. Chipotle says it’s the only national food chain to accomplish this. The company’s plan to eliminate artificial ingredients began two years ago with the decision to get rid of unnecessary additives in tortillas it uses to make burritos, tacos, and chips. The new flour tortillas are made using only flour, water, canola oil, salt and yeast. Corn tortillas used for the chips are made only with corn masa flour and water. The ingredients changes will be applied in all Chipotle restaurants in the United States.

McDonald’s Big Logistical Leap: Quarter Pounders With Fresh Beef

After successfully testing the use of fresh beef Quarter Pounder burgers cooked to order in more than 400 of its restaurants in Texas and Oklahoma, McDonald’s announced it will roll out nationally over the next year. To accomplish this massive change, the company has secured the cooperation of Lopez Foods and other beef suppliers who will deliver fresh, rather than frozen, ground beef patties. The company said it “received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees” during the Oklahoma and Texas market tests and the decision to go national represents “a watershed moment.” The Quarter Pounder line includes the classic Quarter Pounder, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers.

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April 01, 2017, to April 15, 2017

Retail Responds To Lower Profits By Dumping Some Stores, Revamping The Rest

Retail chain CEOs are wondering what to do over the long term about declining store traffic and slipping profit margins. At the core of the problem, some analysts say, is the overheated expansion of brick-and-mortar outlets in the 1980s and 1990s. So far, the options seem to be: filing for bankruptcy (Gander Mountain) or closing stores (Macy’s, Sears). Money saved using these tactics can be applied toward reworking e-commerce operations. Other options include: online buying/store pickup, launching exclusive brands, keeping prices competitive, and installing gadgets and software to make better use of stores. The goal of today’s retail stores, one consultant says, is transformation by “leveraging existing resources.”

Dunkin’ Brands Treasurer Jaspon Named Interim CFO After Carbone Resigns

Kate Jaspon, Dunkin' Brands treasurer and vice president for finance, was named interim CFO after CFO Paul Carbone resigned. The company said Carbone quit to take a management job in retail, where he worked before signing on with Dunkin’. Jaspon will report to CEO Nigel Travis and will take on the responsibility for accounting, corporate tax, investor relations and competitive intelligence. She is now responsible for global financial planning and analysis, business analytics, debt and cash management, electronic payments and insurance. Jaspon joined Dunkin' Brands as assistant controller in 2005.

Amazon Working To Iron Out Kinks In Its Cashierless Store Model

Technical glitches are delaying the debut of Amazon.com’s cashierless brick-and-mortar convenience store, Amazon Go,scheduled to open at the end of April in Seattle. The innovative store automatically charges customers when they exit.  No cash registers are used. The delay spotlights the difficulties the online retailer is experiencing as it implements a strategy to broaden its retail influence, especially in food sales. Observers say the cashierless technology works perfectly as long as there are 20 or fewer customers in the store. It also has a problem tracking items once they leave the store shelf.

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March 15, 2017, to April 01, 2017

McDonald’s Experiments With Fast-Food Versions Of Regional Favorites

A TV chef in San Jose, Calif., helped McDonald’s develop a fast-food variation of a local sandwich – snow crab on sourdough – that features crab meat, seasoned mayo, romaine lettuce and tomato slices. The company said the new sandwich is part of an ongoing strategy to incorporate regional flavors in new menu items, at least in the greater San Francisco Bay area. McDonald’s called an earlier experiment – Gilroy Garlic Fries – an “overwhelming success.” If the snow crab trial is a similar triumph, the company will offer it in the rest of its 250 eateries in the area.

Retail Food Chain Says All House Brands Are Non-GMO

Natural and organic food retailer Earth Fare (Asheville, N.C.) announced that none of its 500 house brand foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). The decision to sell only non-GMO foods was made after considering numerous customer requests. Earth Fare’s product line is also free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats, artificial trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, antibiotics, and growth hormones. The chain also tries to incorporate locally produced fruits and vegetable, meat, beer and wine, dairy products, and specialty items.

Dunkin’ Donuts Parent Company To Replace Synthetic With Natural Colorings

As part of an ongoing plan to offer cleaner menu labels, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins said it will replace artificial colorings in its foods with naturally-sourced colorings by the end of 2018. Dunkin' Brands Group said its doughnuts unit will remove synthetic colors from donut icings, fillings, toppings, frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Likewise, Baskin-Robbins will remove synthetic colors from all ice cream, syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages. In 2014, Dunkin' Brands revamped its new product development process to focus on reformulating products to simplify ingredient labels, and reduce sodium and sugar content without sacrificing flavor.
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