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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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May 01, 2016, to May 15, 2016

Is It Ethical For Vegan Restaurateurs To Kill Cockroaches?

Some vegan restaurant owners committed to humane animal treatment stretch their principles to include the obnoxious pests that plague their facilities. But it’s quite a dilemma. How, after all, do you keep your eatery compliant with public health rules without killing rats, cockroaches, and spiders? Die-hard animal rights restaurateurs can follow the guidance of PETA, which suggests using orange peels to ward off flies, bay leaves to discourage roaches, and peppermint oil-soaked rags to discourage rodents. Faced with the impracticality of those solutions, however, some end up compromising their principles – i.e., calling the exterminator – for the higher good: staying in business “as a way to put a dent in the dominance of the factory farm system.”

Kiehl's Expands Atlanta Store; Adds More Grooming Products For Men

Kiehl’s USA expanded its store in Atlanta, Georgia, to 1,200 square feet. While retaining its signature apothecary aesthetic and design, which includes design elements from the original pharmacy, a teaching skeleton, and a signature motorcycle, the upgraded Lenox Square store features a men’s grooming segment designed for specialized grooming education and product demonstrations. Company president Chris Salgado is keen on introducing men to proper skincare, believing it is both a teaching and a marketing process. According to Salgado, about 18 percent of the company’s products sold in Atlanta are targeted at men, and approximately 30 percent of its customers are men.

Western Companies Need To Really Understand Chinese Consumers Before Expanding Into China

Western companies planning to expand into China should strive to understand Chinese consumers, including cultural differences and attitudes that influence their buying decisions, in order to improve their chances for success. Results of a survey of more than 4,000 Chinese consumers revealed a growing sense of patriotism among millennials; Chinese millennials define superbrands as those brands that are “relevant across many aspects of consumers’ lives;” and Western brands should also focus on the country’s rural regions as potential markets. Also, Chinese women tend to be nationalists and put significant emphasis on relationships with other women; and there is a growing trend among millennials focusing on desire for self-expression.

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April 15, 2016, to May 01, 2016

Mac n’ Cheez Restaurant Chain Expands From Michigan To Chicago Area

Banking on the assumption that diners are getting tired of wings, pizza, and burger joints, Detroit-based Lorraine Platman is rapidly building an empire of macaroni and cheese eateries. Sweet Lorraine's Fabulous Mac n' Cheez! has expanded beyond her seven-location Michigan roots by opening a Chicago-area restaurant, and expects to launch nine more in the area over the coming years – two this year alone – for a total of 100 nationwide within five years. The company sells 14 kinds of made-to-order meat-topped and vegetarian macaroni and cheese dishes, each served up in less than two minutes. Besides specialty mac-and-cheese dishes, Sweet Lorraine's offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free soups, salads, healthy wraps, grilled cheese and desserts.

Target Adds Coupon-Clipping Feature To Cartwheel Savings App

Target said it has added a new feature to its Cartwheel shopping app to help shoppers save money at checkout. Previously focused on providing customers with discounts on items, the app has been expanded to support digital coupons from manufacturers, the company said. With the new feature, shoppers can clip digital coupons, which are the same as those on the local Sunday newspapers. Target said it is currently testing the new service, developed in partnership with third-party provider of digital coupons, Quotient.

Carb-Packed Foods Are Still America’s Favorites

Though low-carb diets remain popular in the nutrition and fitness communities, they are not particularly favored among American consumers, who love their carbs. That does not bode well for anti-obesity initiatives. Using data collected from the 2014 American Community Survey and Dun and Bradstreet, the FindTheHome search engine found the most popular foods in every U.S. state. The search engine assumes that the restaurant types with the highest density per 100,000 people are the most popular. Pizza is the fan-favorite in most states, followed by baked goods and Mexican food. A typical example is Pennsylvania, population 12.8 million. Its most popular restaurant styles are pizza, bakeries, sandwich shops, and Chinese food, in that order.

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April 01, 2016, to April 15, 2016

Salvage Food Store Has Had Its Share Of Hurdles To Overcome

A Kansas grocery store that sells only salvage foods and beverages at discount has proved beneficial to the local community, but has had some unique problems to overcome. The Bargain Barn’s shelves are filled with overstock items and products close to or a little past their expiration date that might otherwise end up in a landfill. So to keep its certification, the store must be inspected regularly by the state to make sure the food is safe. But that eases the concerns of some shoppers who worry that salvage food means spoiled food. In addition to inspections, the store faces the challenge of obtaining its food supply through bidding or contracting. State regulations prohibit buying locally produced goods, like eggs. But otherwise a full range of items is available, including gluten-free and international foods.

Danish Store Sells Ugly, Expired Food At Deep Discounts

Danish supermarket WeFood has come up with a unique solution to the food waste problem that is particularly severe in developed countries because of aesthetic or food safety concerns. The store only stocks food that is past its expiration date, is misshapen or has other imperfections, or has damaged packaging. Food prices are 30 to 50 percent cheaper than at other stores. To accomplish its mission, WeFood has formed partnerships with local supermarkets and butchers, produce importers and manufacturers of organic granola bars. It also has the support of the government, which says Denmark has reduced food waste by 25 percent in five years.

Tesco Makes Its Food Waste Pilot Project Official

Following a successful six-month, 14-store pilot program, British grocery chain Tesco has finalized a plan to donate all unsold food to 5,000 charities in an effort to eradicate food waste from its stores and distribution centers by 2017. During the test, the Community Food Connection program resulted in delivery of more than 22 tons of food to needy people – approximately 50,000 meals. The company acknowledged it had discarded more than 55,000 tons of food last year. The Tesco initiative follows a similar effort by the Morrisons grocery chain.

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March 15, 2016, to April 01, 2016

Burger Chain White Castle To Shift To Cage-Free Eggs

After a review of its egg supply chain, burger and slider restaurant chain White Castle announced it would only use cage-free eggs by 2025, perhaps earlier. The company said it has been working with the Humane Society since last year to develop its cage-free egg policy. According to management, the new policy is a response to customer preferences. White Castle owns and operates nearly 400 restaurants in 13 states.

Trader Joe’s Continues 20-Year Transition To Cage-Free Eggs

Specialty grocery chain Trader Joe’s announced that its 11-year-old plan to ensure that all of its house brand eggs come from cage-free hens -- would continue for nine more years, or earlier if market conditions permit. Sixty-two percent of the eggs it sells now are from cage-free hens. It will switch to 100 percent cage-free eggs in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado by 2020. Target has announced it was shifting to cage-free egg sources, as have restaurant chains Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Panera Bread, among others.

Subway’s Newest Sandwich To Feature Antibiotics-Free Chicken

The Subway sandwich shop chain has introduced a new menu item that features chicken raised without antibiotics. Rotisserie-style chicken also contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The company has also committed to serving only eggs from cage-free layer hens by 2025. Subway said it had a difficult logistical problem with its rotisserie-style chicken at first: finding enough suppliers of antibiotics-free poultry to meet the chain’s needs. The problem was solved, however, and beginning April 1, the company will begin serving all-white meat chicken strips that will also be free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and antibiotics.

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March 01, 2016, to March 15, 2016

McDonald’s To Eliminate Antibiotics From Its Chicken Supply Chain

McDonald’s USA has announced a commitment to sourcing only chicken not raised with antibiotics, and milk from cows never treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST. The new antibiotics policy, developed with the cooperation of sourcing farmers, supports the company's “Global Vision for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals,” introduced in 2003. The company said it hopes to implement the new antibiotics policy to its supply chain over the next two years. Instead of antibiotics, farmers who supply chicken to McDonald’s will use ionophores, an antibiotic not used for humans that helps keep chickens healthy.

Panera’s “No No” Ingredients List Includes Artificial Colors, Flavors, Etc.

Panera bread has published a list of ingredients it either has removed or will remove from its bakery-café foods menus by the end of 2016 and replace with simpler ingredients. Included on the list are artificial colors and flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. The first menu items affected are salad dressings and salads, including the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad and the Kale Caesar. The company said it consulted “third-party scientists and experts” to develop the so-called “No No List” of ingredients it plans to do without.

Subway Says No More Fake Caramel Color In Its Roast Beef

Subway promises to remove artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its sandwiches in North America by 2017. The company says the process of “ingredient improvement” has been ongoing for several years. An example is the removal of caramel color from roast beef and ham. It will remove the preservative proprionic acid and replace it with vinegar by 2016. Last year, the company acknowledged it was removing azodicarbonamide from its bread after an online petition noted the chemical was used to make yoga mats. The company’s chief marketing officer says use of simple ingredients is becoming a "necessary condition" to satisfy customers.

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February 15, 2016, to March 01, 2016

A Steadily Changing World Reflected In Consumer Survey Results

A preview of Euromonitor’s 2015 global consumer survey results reveals that Millennials and Gen Z – consumers under 30 – are leading the shift from computers to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This shift includes young people of the growing middle classes in emerging markets. Among other insights: Paid advertising, while still influential and important, is losing ground to product endorsements and opinions shared by family and friends on social media. Fifty-nine percent consider these recommendations to be very or extremely influential. Despite the upsurge in home food preparation, time-strapped consumers still buy packaged food and ready meals, especially “all natural” products. Lastly, consumers struggle to link health priorities with everyday habits, and try to find time for “what matters:” family, friends, and themselves.

Streamlining Strategy Is A Tricky One For Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is tightening the reins on its local and regional managers to reduce costs and ward off intense competition from Kroger and Costco, which have advanced successfully into the organic and natural foods segment, often charging lower prices. From the beginning, Whole Foods has tried to operate with a local slant, giving managers leeway in the choice of specialty offerings. But the streamlining initiative – which could also include discounting – will mean shifting more responsibility for buying packaged foods, detergents and other nonperishable items to its Texas headquarters, and relying more on software to simplify scheduling staff and replenishing shelves. The move may damage  its customer-friendly reputation and peeve shoppers who prefer local products The difficult strategy, Co-CEO John Mackey acknowledges, is to eliminate “redundancy and waste” and boost stock value, without destroying a unique culture.

Ad Campaign Reanimates Colonel Sanders, And Millennials Get The Joke

Yum Brands’ Kentucky Fried Chicken has turned the corner sales wise – six straight quarters of revenue increases – thanks to a savvy ad campaign and rededication to Colonel Sanders’s food standards. The moves seem to appeal to Millennials, a major accomplishment considering that 60 percent of Millennials have never eaten at KFC and the generation as a whole distrusts big company advertising. But thanks to a “re-Colonelization” of its flavor and preparation standards, and new ads featuring Norm Macdonald as a gently satirical reincarnation of the Colonel, Millennials are taking notice. The company is also adapting its chicken-on-the-bone menu to adjust to modern trends: 70 percent of the market is strips, nuggets and sandwiches these days, says KFC’s CMO. So, “we’ve got to adjust.”

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February 01, 2016, to February 15, 2016

Seventy-Six 24-Hour Tesco Stores To Close For The Night

U.K. grocer Tesco said it is reducing hours by 25 percent at 76 stores that had been open 24 hours a day. The main reason for the hours change, which begins taking effect next month, is to improve the shopping experience for customers by giving night staff time to replenish the shelves and clean up. Closing the stores from midnight to six a.m. will mean “better availability of products and better looking stores when they open their doors to customers each morning.” The company also noted, however, that the affected stores didn’t get many customers between midnight and six.

CEO Of Tesco’s Irish Unit Outlines Turnaround Plans

Tesco Ireland will expand the number of Tesco Express convenience stores in the country – from its current 30 – in an effort to get the company back on a growth track. Part of CEO Andrew Yaxley’s “humble” plan includes pushing house brands and further developing online shopping and home delivery. Yaxley told an industry conference that the company will try to strengthen customer interaction, simplify the product range and develop sales channels. Tesco Ireland has added 1,000 own-brand products to its line-up in hopes of reversing sluggish own-brand sales.

Carrefour Succeeding In Europe With Multi-Format Strategy

Carrefour’s success in Europe in recent years is based on a multi-format marketing approach that continues to emphasize brick-and-mortar stores, but does not neglect online and other channels. In an interview, CEO Georges Plassat said Carrefour’s stores are succeeding in Europe because they combine good formats, locations and product offers. He said he welcomes competition from online retail giant Amazon and others because it is good for the consumer, and Carrefour is really doing something quite different anyway. In Asia, the company sees some problems with China (i.e., ecommerce competition and changing “consumption habits”), but long-term prospects are good.

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January 15, 2016, to February 01, 2016

Amazon Finds Need To Rethink Marketing Deal With India's Future Group

Online retailer Amazon’s exclusive online marketing deal with India-based fashion and retail conglomerate Future Group is facing some significant challenges. According to sources, disagreements between the business partners focus on funding of discounts on Future Group’s fashion brands sold on Amazon. Amazon reportedly asked Future Group to shoulder part of the discounts offered to online shoppers or end the exclusive deal with the online retailer and list its products the way any other vendors would.

Global Luxury Sector Faces Threat Of Rising Instability In Emerging Markets

In 2016, various developments and trends are forecast to influence future directions for the global luxury goods industry, according to Euromonitor. Rising instability in emerging markets poses the biggest threat to the segment; however, marginally stronger economic growth in Western Europe and North America could give global brands a break. Burberry CEO and creative director Christopher Bailey is expected to give up one of his positions in the company. Market leader LVMH is expected to acquire Italy-based Tod’s to compensate for its exposure in Asia Pacific. Ralph Lauren CEO Stefan Larsson is expected to increase its offerings of affordable luxury fashion.

Sephora Announces Program For Women-Owned Beauty Startups

Beauty retailer Sephora announced the Sephora Accelerate program to help support beauty startups established by women entrepreneurs. Part of the company’s Sephora Stands social impact initiative, the program aims to inspire confidence and fearlessness among women. With data showing women entrepreneurs do not have the same access to funding, connections, or business instructions as their male counterparts, Sephora Accelerate was designed to build a community of female business founders in all areas of the beauty industry. Qualified candidates are encouraged to apply for one of up to 10 spots in the year-long program. Sephora Accelerate fellows will participate in a boot camp at the company’s San Francisco headquarters to learn the necessary skills to run and build their businesses.

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January 01, 2016, to January 15, 2016

Waitrose Says To Expand, Open New Supermarkets Across UK In 2016

High-end retailer Waitrose announced its expansion plans across the UK for 2016. Expected to create 1,500 new jobs, the proposed expansion will include 14 new supermarkets, nine new Waitrose convenience stores, and a bigger online service depot in London. Also, the retailer said it plans to introduce new retail concepts, including juice bars, grazing and informal dining areas, and sushi counters.

Ocado Shares Tumbles After Amazon's Grocery Expansion Plans In UK

Shares of stock of online grocery distributor Ocado declined following online retailer Amazon’s announcement of its plan to expand its Pantry grocery delivery service in the UK. Launched in November 2015, Pantry offers customers about 4,000 grocery and household products. Amazon UK chief executive Christopher North said his company plans to add thousands more to its product lineup.

Aldi Unveils Fastest Ever UK Expansion Plans

Discount retailer Aldi plans to open 80 new stores across the UK in 2016. Part of the company’s two-year £600 million investment plan, the expansion will increase Aldi’s store count by 23 percent. Scotland will be a major focus of the planned expansion, with eight new stores slated to open during the year, raising the company’s store count to 72.

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December 15, 2015, to January 01, 2016

E. Coli Outbreak May Sabotage Chipotle’s “Buy Local” Tradition

Thanks to a severe E. coli outbreak, Chipotle Mexican Grill is making some major changes in its supply chain practices that could adversely affect its seven-year-old “buy local” commitment. The outbreak, whose cause has not been pinpointed, sickened 43 people and led to the temporary closing of restaurants in six states for deep cleaning. The health scare has hurt the company’s stock price, which dropped 11 percent in October and 9.5 percent in November, and slowed sales. In response, Chipotle has tightened safety standards, especially ingredients testing, for produce suppliers. Smaller local suppliers may not be able to meet the elevated standards, the company acknowledged, putting a crimp in its promise of using food grown locally.

Success In Baking Business Need Not Be A Mystery

Numerous novel bakery ventures – croissant shops in the mid-1980s, for example, or cupcake shops in the 2000s – have learned a lesson the hard way: “consumer tastes are fickle.” A key reason for the failure of cupcake ventures was the realization that cupcakes are a special occasion treat. People just didn’t stop in every day. Specialty bakery shops can still thrive, but only if they diversify with complementary items like coffee, doughnuts, or ice cream. An even better recipe for specialty baking success is to sell into both retail and wholesale markets. Achatz Handmade Pie Co., for example, has sold fresh pies to consumers for 22 years. But it branched out into wholesale pies, and has prospered by providing pies to Whole Foods, Kroger Co., and the 90-store Wegmans grocery chain.

Metro CEO Says Things Will Get Better For Retailer

Metro AG CEO Olaf Koch said his company expects things to get better after two years of flat profit and a failed initial public offering of its Russian unit. About to mark his fifth year as chief executive of Germany’s largest retailer, Koch said his company will soon benefit from business moves it has taken, including the sale of its chain of department stores, startup investments, and an expansion move for its e-commerce operations. Also, the company plans to invest in startups it hopes will bring it closer to restaurants, hoteliers, and independent grocers that buy from its stores.
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