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Period: May 15, 2017 to June 1, 2017
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

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.” 

"Bakery Returns Online Trolls' Comments to them in Cake Form", United Press International, May 01, 2017

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.” 

"Best of Both Worlds! A Minneapolis Bakery is Serving Savory Donuts Filled with MAC AND CHEESE, Pepperoni and Mozzarella, and Beer and Bacon", Mail Online, May 04, 2017

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.

"These Caffeinated Bagels Let You Have Your Coffee and Eat It Too", Today, May 05, 2017

Food Waste Repurposed Into Edible, Profitable New Products

The food waste problem is inspiring a lot of creative new product development these days. Among the ingenious products from socially aware entrepreneurs: Foxhole Gin, made with leftover grape skins, flesh and pips from winemaking; Toast Ale, made from surplus loaves of bread mashed into crumbs and mixed with malted barley, hops and yeast; ChicP hummus in four varieties made from discarded wonky fruit and vegetables; Hellmann's Ketchup, a new product made from imperfect discarded red and green tomatoes; Snacktivism snack bars made from excess fruit gleaned from London’s wholesale food markets; Spare Fruit premium crisps made from rescued wasted fruit; and Rejuce fruit and vegetable juices made from rejected produce that is transformed into flavors like Lime, Cucumber, & Mint, and Lemon, Beetroot & Ginger. 

"How food waste is fueling a new wave of NPD", The Grocer, May 06, 2017

Boulanger Eric Kayser Expands Operations In U.S.

French baker Eric Kayser, who opened his first boulangerie in Paris in 1996 and now operates in Africa, South America, and Japan – is expanding his presence in New York City. The planned Maison Kayser café/restaurant – the latest of the 14 in the city – will open this spring near the Empire State Building. The ambitious boulanger is also planning to open stores in Washington, D.C. The stores serve more expensive versions of his Paris fare, including baguettes, viennoiseries, tartines, tarts, all made with local ingredients, except for the butter, which is imported from France.

"French Boulanger Kayser Finds a Niche in US", The Express Tribune, May 06, 2017

Artisanal Small-Batch Pasta Maker Is A Florida Success Story

A Sarasota, Fla., family with roots in Italy, Argentina and Maryland – and an old tradition of hand-made pasta – represents a growing trend in artisanal pasta whose motto could be: “Dry pasta is dead.” The family’s small-batch Peperonata Pasta comes in 20 flavors and 44 shapes, all made at their 800-square-foot facility using three machines. The Fochis began selling their products at local farmers’ markets in the Gulf Coast region. The Sarasota Whole Foods Market found them eventually and began stocking the products. They are now available at 20 of the chain’s stores. Three years ago the family opened their own store and café, selling pasta and empanadas.

"Passion and Fresh Ingredients", Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Fla.), May 08, 2017

West Virginia Entrepreneur Shapes A Talent For Baking Into A Successful Business

It all started with a cake made for a friend who loves sushi. Fashioned by Erin Whitcomb to resemble a bento box packed with sushi rolls, the concoction so impressed the friend, who himself had a professional background in baking, that it led eventually to a business partnership and then a bakery in Martinsburg, W.V. Along the way, there was a stint at culinary school where Whitcomb mastered the science behind her baking. Edible Elegance by Erin now supports seven employees who produce breads (including gluten-free varieties), bagels, cakes and pastries with no added preservatives and mostly local ingredients such as fruit. Whitcomb has also stretched her range of unusual shaped cakes to include books, a guitar case, and an elaborate castle with a moat.  

"Bakery begins with bento box cake idea", The Winchester Star (Virginia), May 10, 2017

Consumers Contribute To Extended Economic Recoveries Because Of Buying Habits

“Jobless recoveries” from recessions have become the norm. Routine jobs eliminated during downturns never come back, thanks to automation and outsourcing. That makes recovery slow, dampening real wages for longer periods. But business researchers show that companies cutting costs during hard times isn't the only reason for slow recoveries. Consumers contribute by buying cheaper, lower quality goods – usually produced overseas – at discount retailers, a phenomenon called “trading down.” It’s a smart move for consumers, but ultimately the macro economy suffers. Lower quality goods and services don’t require skilled labor, so demand for U.S. labor slides, further crippling the economy. As the trend continues after the recession ends, the job market remains hobbled.

"Recessions Push People to Buy Cheap Things, Which Just Makes Everything Worse", Harvard Business Review, May 12, 2017

Lidl Readies Invasion Of U.S. Retail Market

German discount retailer Lidl plans to open its first stores in the US in summer 2017. Earlier in February 2017, the company said it plans to open its first 20 American stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, with 80 more locations to be launched within its first year of US operations. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing pricing strategies in 11 states, seeking to undercut competitors by 15 percent, while German rival Aldi aims to offer prices 21 percent lower than those of its American competitors.

"Germany's Lidl prepares to enter U.S. supermarket wars", Reuters, May 12, 2017

British Grocery Chain Seeks To “Rescue” Scorned Bananas

Sainsbury’s is dismayed that so many of its countrymen, who enjoy bananas fairly often – 30 percent eat at least one a day – nevertheless turn up their noses at – and usually bin – the fruits if they have imperfections like bruises, black marks, or green spots. It’s a serious problem: Britons trash about 1.8 million rejected bananas a day. As part of its £10 million Waste Less, Save More initiative, the company has launched pop-up “Banana Rescue” stations in its 500 stores to offer not only recipes for banana bread, but all of the hardware necessary to make it. That includes mixing bowls, blenders, baking tins and storage solutions.

"Sainsbury’s launches in store ‘Banana Rescue’ stations, giving new a-peel to bin-bound fruit ", News release, Sainsbury’s, May 15, 2017

Pizza Doughnuts: In An Age Of Doughnut Creativity, Why Not?

Who says a pizza – despite its name – has to be in the shape of a pie? The West End Bistro in West Haven, Conn., has proven that pizza can look like a doughnut and sell just as well. Their creation – the idea came to the owner in a dream – begins with focaccia dough stuffed with Italian cheeses and shaped into a doughnut. It is then fried and “frosted” with what creator Jeff Lamberti calls “gravy” – pizza sauce – then baked, garnished with greens and served. Photos posted on social media were a viral hit; passels of orders soon followed. Lamberti said they sold two hundred of the junk food delicacies in a recent weekend. "I didn't think that it would take off the way it did,” he said. 

"The Pizza Donut: A Match Made in Junk Food Heaven", WHOtv.com, May 16, 2017

Trusted Brands In 40+ Product Categories Listed By Reader’s Digest

An online survey of 5,500 American consumers found that 49 percent are less trusting of brands these days. The survey, conducted by Reader’s Digest, sought to find the most trusted brands in 40 product categories, including food and beverage, beauty and healthcare, retail, etc. According to the company, which awards a “Trusted Brand seal of approval” to products, the survey found that trust outweighs product pricing and trust ensures customer retention and brand loyalty. (It doesn’t, however, equate with top sales: Ford is ranked as most trusted car company, but GM is the top seller.) More than half of participants said the Reader’s Digest seal of approval would increase their likelihood of trusting a brand. 

"Reader’s Digest Annual Survey Determines the Most Trusted Brands in America", News release, Reader's Digest, May 16, 2017

Kroger Announces Changes To Senior Executive Lineup

Retail chain The Kroger Co. said senior vice president of retail divisions, Sukanya Madlinger, plans to retire after 31 years with the company. Also, the retailer announced the promotion of Calvin Kaufman to succeed Madlinger. Kroger also announced the promotion of Ann Reed to president of the company's Louisville division, Kaufman's current position.

"Kroger Announces Retirement of Sukanya Madlinger, Promotes Calvin Kaufman, Ann Reed", Kroger , May 16, 2017

U.S. Grocery Chain Owner Delhaize Honored For Diversified Hiring Practices

Retail grocery chain owner Delhaize America was recognized by Web-based “diversity” publisher and event sponsor DiversityInc for its excellence in hiring, retaining and promoting women, minorities, people with disabilities, LGBT people and veterans. Delhaize, whose grocery chains include Food Lion and Hannaford, was ranked 10th among the top 11 “Companies for Progress,” a subset of the top 50 companies for diversity. It was the only grocery firm to make the top 50. Other retailers among the top 50 were Target (No. 22) and CVS Health (No. 50). CPG companies included Johnson & Johnson (No. 5), Procter & Gamble (No. 13), Kellogg Co. (No. 28), Colgate-Palmolive (No. 35), and McCormick & Co. (No. 45).

"Delhaize America Among Top Companies for Progress", Progressive Grocer, May 17, 2017

Target’s Q1 Numbers Are Promising, But There’s Still Work To Do

Target seems to be on a path to recovery, if profit is any indication, though it reported a first quarter same-store sales decline of 1.3 percent due to drops in traffic and basket size. Digital sales were up 22 percent, however. Sales totaled $16 billion down from $16.2 billion last year. Earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter were $1.22, compared with $1.02 a year ago. Thomson Reuters consensus forecast was 91 cents. The company expects a “low single-digit decline” in same-store sales in the second quarter, and adjusted EPS of $0.95 to $1.15. For the full-year 2017, Target continues to project a low single-digit decline in same-store sales. CEO Brian Cornell said the company is in "the early stage of a multi-year effort to position Target for profitable, consistent long-term growth.”

"Target Reports First Quarter 2017 Earnings", Earnings release, Target, May 17, 2017

Jean Coutu To Sell Clinique Beauty Products In Canada

Jean Coutu Group said it will start selling Clinique beauty products in several of its affiliated stores Quebec and New Brunswick, as well as online. Accounting for about 50 percent of total pharmacy sales in Canada, Jean Coutu also has a high-end beauty department selling beauty brands, including Caudalie, Biotherm, and Jouviance. With one to four consultants at all times, Jean Coutu's beauty stores offer services, such as skin analysis, makeup touch-ups, and a makeup-testing program.

"Canada’s Jean Coutu Secures Clinique", Women’s Wear Daily, May 17, 2017

Google, Amazon Top LinkedIn’s List Of Desirable Employers

LinkedIn announced that people looking for employment are most interested in working at Google's parent company Alphabet. Amazon came in second on the list of desirable U.S. employers, developed from LinkedIn’s analysis of billions of actions taken by its 500+ million members and looked at people's interest in companies’ jobs, brands and employees, and record of employee retention. A human resources exec at Amazon said its high ranking is due to its “unique culture of innovation and customer obsession.”

"Amazon Ranks #2 on LinkedIn’s Annual Top Companies List", News release, Amazon, May 18, 2017

As Retail Industry Continues To Sag, Walmart Booms

Walmart bucked depressing retail industry trends in the first fiscal quarter, posting a 1.4 percent increase in revenue to $117.54 billion, slightly less than the $117.74 billion expected by Wall Street. Earnings per share were up by two percent to $1.00, better than analyst expectations of $0.96 a share. The glowing performance in a time of limp retail sales was generally driven by aggressive pricing that increased store traffic by three percent (on a two-year stacked basis) and by successful expansion of its online business. E-commerce sales soared 63 percent, up from 29 percent growth last quarter, mostly due to organic growth and not acquisitions. Same-store sales grew for the 11th consecutive quarter.

"Walmart U.S. Q1 comps1 grew 1.4% and Walmart U.S. eCommerce GMV grew 69%, Company reports Q1 FY18 diluted EPS of $1.00", Earnings release, Walmart, May 18, 2017

Unilever Indonesia Joins Local Online Shopping Platform Blibli.com

PT Unilever Indonesia has opened a Unilever Anchor Store on local online shopping website, Blibli.com. According to Unilever Indonesia e-commerce manager Hira Triadi, all of the company's products are featured on the online store. Through the online store, Unilever Indonesia hopes to widen its reach to include millennials and consumers who like using social media.

"Unilever anchor store added to Blibli.com", The Jakarta Post, May 18, 2017

Potential Hikes In Prices, Fate Of NHS, Have British Consumers On Edge

Mintel consumer research finds that Britons are worried about the prospect of higher prices of goods and services, including food, vacations and clothing. Eighty-three percent worry about price hikes generally, and 59 percent worry about more expensive groceries. With the impact of Brexit still largely unknown yet looming, and despite concerns about rising prices,  consumer confidence remains relatively strong. People still expect their personal finances to hold up well over the next year. However, the fate of the National Health Service (NHS) and the nation’s economy worry consumers.

"Britain braces itself for price hikes: 83% fear price rises on goods and services", News release, Mintel, May 19, 2017

Lidl Opens Online Store In China

Germany-based retailer Lidl launched its China-focused online store on Alibaba's online platform Tmall Global. According to the company, the website will offer several of its private labels. With European products being popular in China, Lidl wants to launch its Combino, Bellarom, and Sondey brands in the country.

"Lidl launches Chinese web shop", RetailDetail, May 22, 2017

Walgreens Boots Alliance Communications Chief Retires

Pharmacy and retail chain Walgreens Boots Alliance confirmed that Yves Romestan has retired as the company's senior vice president for communications and international affairs effective April 21, 2017. After Romestan's departure, Laura Vergani was promoted from vice president of international communications to VP of international and divisional communications. All of the company's divisional communications directors now report directly to Vergani.

"Walgreens Boots Alliance comms chief Yves Romestan retires", PRWeek , May 23, 2017

Walmart Unveils 2017-2018 Investment Plans For Florida

Wal-Mart Stores announced its investment plans in Florida for the fiscal year running from February 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018. Expected to have an economic impact of more than $450 million for the state, the plan includes opening nine new stores, creating more than 800 new jobs across the state, and implement a multi-million-dollar capital investment plan that would upgrade more than 40 stores. Also, the retailer plans to announce the opening of its 150-acre eCommerce Distribution Center facility in Davenport. Following its recent hiring of more than 550 associates, the company plans to hire at least 1,000 more workers in the next year. Walmart also confirmed plans to build a distribution center for perishable goods in the city of Cocoa.

"Walmart Announces $450 Million in 2017-2018 Investments Throughout Florida, Plans to Hire More Than 2,750 Floridians", Business Wire, May 23, 2017

More Women In Australia Buy Cosmetics At Pharmacies, Roy Morgan Research Says

In 2016, 19.1 percent of Australian women bought cosmetics from pharmacies, compared with 15.1 percent in 2006, according to Roy Morgan Research. Data from the market research firm revealed that in 2006-2016, the percentage of women who buy cosmetics in an average six months remained stable, from 51.5 percent to 50.5 percent. Cosmetics retailers, such as Sephora and MECCA, saw their share of the market fall from 9.6 percent to 7.7 percent during the period. Also, about 840,000 women purchased their make-up at a Priceline store, making the company the most popular pharmacy chain for cosmetics.

"More Australian women buying cosmetics at pharmacies", Roy Morgan Research, May 24, 2017

Walmart Opens Flagship Online Store For China Market On JD.com

Walmart opened its flagship online store on China-based shopping portal JD.com. Aimed at providing same-day and next-day deliveries to more than 600 million consumers in the country, the opening came almost a year after Walmart and JD.com formed a strategic alliance for the China market. In October 2016, Walmart invested $50 million in New Dada, JD.com's joint venture with delivery services firm Dada.

"US retail giant Walmart launches flagship online store on JD.com", South China Morning Post, May 25, 2017

Ulta Beauty Posts Strong Sales Gains In 1Q Of 2017

Ulta Beauty said net sales jumped 22.5 percent to $1.315 billion in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same period in the previous year. Comparable sales rose 14.3 percent during the period, compared with the 15.2-percent growth in the same quarter of fiscal 2016. According to the company, retail comparable sales grew 10.9 percent, including salon comparable sales growth of 9.9 percent. Salon sales grew 16.7 percent to $68.7 million, compared with the same period in the previous year.

"Ulta Beauty Announces First Quarter 2017 Results", Ulta, May 25, 2017

Tesco Reports Improved Sales And Profits In FY 2017

Tesco reported sales, excluding VAT and fuel, rose 1.1 percent in fiscal 2017. According to the retailer, it recorded positive growth in both UK and international operations. Group operating profit before exceptional items jumped 29.9 percent to ₤1.28 billion, compared with the previous year. Statutory profit before tax dropped 28.2 percent to ₤145 million, including ₤263 million in exceptional costs. Retail operating cash flow was ₤2.3 billion, an increase of 9.1 percent from the previous year, the company said. Tesco said it has reduced its net debt by 27 percent to ₤3.7 billion.

"Tesco Plc Annual Report and Financial Statements 2017", Tesco, May 28, 2017

Companies, Organizations  

Boots Names RB Executive Reed Head Of UK Trading

Boots has hired Reckitt Benckiser executive Richard Reed to manage the pharmacy retailer's trading operations in the UK. Currently head of RB's international customer development, Reed will be Boots' trading director for the UK and Republic of Ireland, a newly created position. Reed also held executive positions at Kelloggs and Procter & Gamble prior to joining RB.

"Boots poaches Reckitt Benckiser exec Richard Reed for new role", Retail Week, May 16, 2017

Wal-Mart's South African Business Massmart Posts Weaker Like-For-Like Sales

Massmart, Wal-Mart's majority-owned retail business in South Africa, reported same-store sales dropped almost 2 percent in the first five months of 2017. Wal-Mart acquired a controlling stake in the company via a $2.4 billion deal seven years ago. Since then, the retailer has had to deal with economic slowdown in the region. Sales were also affected by consumer reluctance to spend and by a downgrading of credit ratings of South Africa, which accounts for 91 percent of Massmart's total sales in the region.

"Wal-Mart's South African arm Massmart reports drop in like-for-like sales", Reuters, May 25, 2017

Inflation: What it really means for consumers

Kantar Worldpanel, May 16, 2017

Canada’s Jean Coutu Secures Clinique

Women’s Wear Daily, May 17, 2017

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