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Period: June 1, 2014 to June 15, 2014
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Demands For Higher Wages At Quick-Serve Eateries May Accelerate Automation Trend

Software and machines may not replace fast-food restaurant workers in the foreseeable future, but automation is beginning to play a part in food service. Some industry observers say the demand among low-wage fast-food workers for higher pay may actually speed up the development of food service automation. Others say it takes a lot of time to introduce advanced technology and it’s not likely to eliminate the need for human interaction. Nevertheless, restaurant chains are tiptoeing into the future: Panera Bread is introducing self-service ordering kiosks. Chili's and Applebee's are putting tablets on their tables that would give customers the ability to order and pay without any contact with human wait staff at all.

"Robots will replace fast-food workers", CNN Money, June 10, 2014

Panera’s New “Food Policy” Eliminates All Artificial Additives From Menu By 2016

St. Louis, Mo.-based Panera Bread – “on a mission to help fix a broken food system” – announced plans to completely eliminate artificial food additives from its menu by the end of 2016. Adopting a new “food policy” of providing only “clean foods” to its customers, the company said it will remove colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives over the next couple of years. The company has already cut trans fats from the menu and only serves meat products from animals raised without antibiotics.

"Panera to cut artificial additives from menu. ", MarketWatch/Bloomberg, June 03, 2014

Move Over Ronald, Happy Is Here To Sell The McDonald’s Menu To Kids

Add another cute character to the list of marketing icons McDonald’s has used to get its unhealthful food message across to kids. At least that’s how the anti-McDonald’s community sees it. The fast-food giant recently introduced Happy, the new mascot of the child-focused Happy Meal. According to the director of the Value the Meal campaign at Corporate Responsibility International, Happy – basically a red Happy Meals box with a toothy grin, bug eyes, a golden arches hat and spindly legs – is the company’s latest effort to “market an unhealthy brand to kids”. The aging clown Ronald McDonald, meanwhile, is apparently getting a makeover so he’ll remain “modern and relevant”, according to a company spokesman.

"A New Mascot in Old Fight Over Fast Food and Kids", The Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2014

Companies, Organizations  

Ahold Revamps Netherlands Head Office; Lets Go 130 Employees

Retailer Ahold announced it has reorganized its head office in the Netherlands. As part of the reorganization, which was implemented to enable management to focus more on the Albert Heijn business, the company ended Ahold Europe’s operations as a separate business division. Also, about 130 positions in the country were made redundant, part of the 210 jobs the company was planning to terminate.

"Ahold reorganizes its head office", Ahold , June 05, 2014

Carrefour Joins Mall Of Qatar As Anchor Tenant

Retailer Carrefour agreed to be the anchor tenant for the Mall of Qatar, which will be the largest shopping center in the country upon its completion at the end of 2015. Carrefour said the planned “market place” will be its flagship store in the GCC region. It will include exclusive products, a bakery line, and higher-quality foods, according to Mall of Qatar deputy managing director Shem Krey.

"Luxury Carrefour to anchor Mall of Qatar", Arabian Business, June 03, 2014

Post-Breach Target Reorganizes Merchandising And Management

Retailer Target Corp. is reorganizing its merchandising and decision-making structures following the December 2013 data breach that involved the theft of credit-card data for 40 million customers. Interim CEO John Mulligan said the incident has prompted the company to renew its focus on serving shoppers. Changes being tried by Target include reorganizing its baby, electronics, toys, and clothing sections described by the retailer as having become “stale.” Mulligan also said the steps taken by the retailer are parts of its efforts to return to its roots of “upscale discounting.” Target lowered its earnings forecast for the current year from $3.90 a share to $3.60, projecting its adjusted earnings of 85 cents to $1 a share for the second quarter.

"Target Revamping Merchandising, Bureaucracy Post Breach", Bloomberg, May 31, 2014

Wal-Mart Appoints Broader As Walmart EMEA EVP, President, And CEO

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. promoted Walmart Canada president and CEO Shelley Broader to executive vice president, president, and CEO of Walmart EMEA. Reporting directly to Walmart International president and CEO David Cheesewright, Broader will direct the retailer’s operations and business development in Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Canada. Effective June 1, 2014, Broader’s appointment comes after joining Walmart Canada as chief merchandising officer in December 2010.

"Shelley Broader Named President And CEO Of Walmart EMEA Region", PR Newswire (CNW), May 30, 2014

Grocery Store Gym Offers Two Main Benefits

The store manager of a Hannaford supermarket in Albany, N.Y., admits the 5,000-square-foot workout facility in his store is partly his brainchild. But he also credits people from the local YMCA and a health care provider. It was simply a way to put the unused space resulting from a recent remodeling to good use. And so far it can brag of two key accomplishments: the community is using the treadmills, stationary bikes and other cardio machines to get healthy – 1,100 people have signed up. And because many of the gym rats were not originally Hannaford shoppers, the store has benefited from a boost in foot traffic. Store manager and admitted “exercise fool” Dave Farrell said: "It's definitely a win for us, but that wasn't the goal." Hannaford execs say the store/gym is a fluke: there are no plans to expand the idea.

"NewYork Supermarket Is Gym With Groceries", Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 26, 2014

Amazon Invests Further In Warehouses, Distribution Centers

Amazon is expanding its network of warehouses and distribution centers in the United States to strengthen its reign as the country’s leader in online retail. Spending $13.9 billion on order-fulfillment infrastructure, which includes 50 new distribution centers, in 2010 to 2013, the online retail giant is eyeing further expansion moves and seeking ways to speed up deliveries of online orders, which include same-day deliveries, to online shoppers’ homes. Other initiatives launched by Amazon as part of its efforts to grab a bigger share of the overall retail market include the Prime Pantry service for members of its loyalty program and the AmazonFresh grocery business.

"Amazon's Warehouse Expansion Goes Unabated As A Means To Unchallenged Dominance", Forbes.com, May 16, 2014

Marks & Spencer: Magic or menopausal?

The Economist , June 24, 2014

40% global retailers eye to enter India

Business Standard, June 03, 2014

The Top 25 Supply Chains in 2014

Consumer Goods, June 02, 2014

Market News  

Food Producers Are Casualties Of Price War Among U.K. Supermarket Giants

It seems like good news for British consumers that sales at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda – the big four supermarket chains that control 74 percent of retail grocery – are down significantly. Their answer has been to cut prices, and that eases the strain on U.K. shoppers. But what’s good news for shoppers is bad news for producers: the price war is damaging Britain’s food self-sufficiency. A government department released data showing that for the third year in a row, self-sufficiency was down, from 78 percent in 1984 to 60 percent now. The retail giants are negotiating such brutal price deals with producers that many have simply stopped producing.  The result? British wheat production has dropped 25 percent. And the national sheep flock has declined 33 percent.

"Why a supermarket price war is bad news for Britain's ability to feed itself", The Guardian, June 08, 2014

UK's Big Retailers See Sales Declines; Tesco Loses 1 Million Weekly Customer Visits

UK’s leading supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons suffered sales declines in the 12-week period ending May 25, 2014, according to data from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel. Compared with year-ago figures, Tesco’s sales dropped 3.1 percent, while Morrisons’ sales declined 3.9 percent, according to Kantar. UK’s grocery market stood at its weakest state ever in the last 11 years, Kantar’s data also revealed. Tesco’s share of the market fell from 30.5 percent to 29 percent, while Morrisons saw its market share dropped from 11.6 percent to 10.9 percent. In contrast, discount retailers Aldi and Lidl reported sales grew 35.9 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively. Sales of Wal-Mart’s Asda unit grew 2.4 percent, making it the only big-four supermarket to register an increase. It also maintained its market share at 17.1 percent by cutting prices.

"One million fewer customer visits a week at Tesco", The Guardian, June 03, 2014

Portland Removes Walmart From City's Investment Portfolio

After adopting a resolution in October 2013 keeping retailer Walmart from the city’s investment portfolio, the city council of Portland, Oregon, began divesting its Walmart holdings in April 2014. The first major city in the United States to stop investing in Walmart, Portland followed several European institutional investors which rejected the retailer due to its labor practices and alleged bribery of government officials in Mexico. Portland cited various grievances against Walmart as reasons for abandoning the retailer, including allegations of adverse impact on wages and employee benefits, as well as negative effects on local small and medium-sized businesses.

"The Walmart-Free City", The New Yorker, May 28, 2014

Marketing & Advertising  

Wal-Mart Expands Online Price Matching Tool Across U.S.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it plans to expand its Savings Catcher online price-matching tool to cities across the United States. Also, the world’s largest retailer plans to expand the product range covered by the online tool, including TVs, shirts, vegetables, and other produce. Also, Wal-Mart customers can now use Savings Catcher on the retailer’s mobile app. Wal-Mart’s move comes after the company’s U.S. discount division reported revenue declines for five consecutive quarters, and a drop in the number of shoppers for six quarters straight.

"Wal-Mart to expand online savings tool nationwide", Yahoo, June 05, 2014

Ulta Beauty Slows Expansion Pace; Focuses On Long-Term Strategies

Cosmetics company Ulta Beauty plans to open 100 stores in the United States in 2014 as part of its goal of having 1,200 stores across the country, according to company CEO Mary Dillon. Speaking at the meeting of the company’s shareholders, Dillon said the company expects same-store sales to grow 4–6 percent, lower than the previous year’s 7.9 percent. Ulta, which reported revenue grew 20 percent to $2.7 billion in 2013, said it plans to slow down its expansion as the company focuses more on long-term strategies, which include building its supply chain and improving its customer loyalty program. Since 2009, Ulta has acquired 90 brands, some of which are exclusive to the company, as well as added 83 high-end boutiques to its stores.

"Ulta eyes 100 new store openings this year amid slower expansion", Chicago Tribune , June 05, 2014

Is America Ready For Finland’s Version Of Rye Bread?

A Finn transplanted to Manhattan is single-handedly trying to change America’s bread-eating habits. Simo Kuusisto, former chef and owner of Nordic Breads bakery, sells his Finnish rye bread in an area famous for reubens and hot pastrami sandwiches made with, well, Jewish rye bread. Kuusisto’s ”rye-volution”, marketed with social media and personal showmanship, is based on two key facts: his bread, made without wheat or yeast, tastes really good and it’s all-natural. And the “coarse, dark, labor-intensively chewy rye bread” known as Ruis is gradually carving a niche in the city’s competitive artisan bread market. There are problems, of course. Because it contains no preservatives, it has a short shelf life. And a major challenge has been to convince customers that the bread is not supposed to be “soft like Wonder Bread or Italian bread,” Kuusisto says.

"The Finnish 'rye-volution' begins in New York, without wheat or yeast", theguardian.com, June 01, 2014

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