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Fosun Should Find Better Takeover Target Than The Body Shop, Analyst Says

June 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chinese conglomerate Fosun International should discontinue its efforts to secure the rights to buy The Body Shop, the beauty retailer owned by L'Oreal SA. There are several reasons why Fosun would be better off looking for another company to acquire. These include the lack of positive forecasts for the retail sector, including the beauty retail segment. Also, The Body Shop's emphasis on all-natural beauty products no longer differentiates it from rival retailers, as reflected by the 4.8 percent drop in revenue in 2016. With a price tag of $900 million, which is expected to significantly jump once a likely bidding war starts, The Body Shop is quite expensive.
Shelly Banjo, "Fosun's Fruitless Beauty Search", Bloomberg, June 06, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Walmart Tests Large Parking Lot Kiosk For Online Order Pickup

June 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is testing the use of a large self-service kiosk that would allow customers to pick up their online purchases without contact with an employee. After purchases are paid for online, Walmart employees find and pack the orders in bins in the 20-by-80-foot test structure, which is located in the parking lot of a Warr Acres, Okla., supercenter. Customers gain entry to the kiosk, which contains refrigerators and freezers to maintain food freshness, via a typed-in code. Customers must spend at least $30 online to use the kiosk, which is open 24/7 and can fulfill hundreds of customer orders in a day. [Image Credit: © Walmart ]
Hayley Peterson, "Walmart built a giant vending machine that retrieves groceries", Business Insider, June 06, 2017, © Business Insider Inc.
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It Pays To Buy Own-Brand Groceries At Australia’s Aldi Stores

June 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A grocery price survey conducted by an Australian consumer research firm found that a standard basket of own-brand products cost the least at Aldi stores, while leading brand products cost the most at IGA. The average leading brand basket cost $170.54 at Coles and $168.74 at Woolworths. A comparable basket of Aldi brand products cost $102.50, saving 49-50 percent. According to the Choice Consumer Pulse Survey, switching to other budget options where available can save shoppers as much as 59 percent when buying own-brand groceries from Aldi, rather than leading brands at Coles and Woolworths. Independent chain IGA charged 5-7 percent more than Coles and Woolworths for an identical basket of leading brand items. Choice checked110 supermarkets in 33 locations across Australia for its survey.
Rachel Clemons, "Which supermarket has the cheapest groceries?", News release, Choice, June 05, 2017, © Choice
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Walmart Tests Use Of Employees As Delivery People

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
To further save customers time and money, Walmart is experimenting with the use of employees on their way home from work to deliver online purchases to nearby buyers. The new program is strictly voluntary and participation levels are up to the employee. Walmart’s technology allows them to set preferences: choose how many packages they deliver, sizes and weights, and which days they can make the after-work deliveries. “It just makes sense,” Walmart eCommerce CEO Marc Lore, says. “The best part is this gives our own associates a way to earn extra income on their existing drive home.” [Image Credit: © Walmart ]
Marc Lore, "Serving Customers in New Ways: Walmart Begins Testing Associate Delivery", Blog entry, Walmart, June 01, 2017, © Walmart Stores, Inc.
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How Walmart Might Foil Incursions By Discount Grocers Aldi, Lidl

June 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has been doing a good job of beefing up its e-commerce program to stay close to online retail competitor Amazon. But analysts say another big challenge is to better compete against the German no-frills grocery retailers Aldi and Lidl. That battleground is mainly about price, but not completely. Walmart’s U.K. grocery unit Asda, whose unique selling proposition was low prices, got beat in the price arena by Aldi and Lidl. It is still trying to recover. As the two German retailers expand their presence in the U.S., Walmart needs to make sure it is not out-discounted again. It also needs to make sure its house brands compete on quality as well as price. The good news is that the company’s growing e-commerce strengths could help it fend off low-tech discounter competition, especially if it continues to boost its shop-online/pick-up-in-store strategy. [Image Credit: © MidAmerica Nazarene University ]
Andrea Felsted, "Walmart's Big New Problem Isn't Amazon", Bloomberg , June 02, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Fast-Casual Restaurant Growth Slows

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The fast-casual restaurant boom that took off in the 1990s, luring Millennials with fresh ingredients and modern design, has apparently plateaued. Growth in sector sales is expected to sag to only six or seven percent, down from eight percent a year ago, and between 10 and 11 percent in the prior decade, according to the Pentallect consultancy. Fast-casual companies are shutting down outlets, rebranding them, or abandoning expansion plans. Part of the problem appears to be competition from better performing fast-food chains and mom-and-pop eateries that have upgraded food quality and service. In addition, consumers are attracted by the convenience of online meal purchasing and delivery. [Image Credit: © Red Robin ]
Leslie Patton, "America’s Fast-Casual Dining Boom Is Over", Bloomberg, June 01, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Blue April Meal Kit Company Plans To Go Public

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
New York-based Blue Apron Holdings, whose subscription-based service ships cook-at-home meal kits and wine, has begun the SEC procedure for launching an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. In an earlier private capital round, the company was valued at $2 billion. The IPO documents filed with the SEC showed a first quarter (ended March 31) loss of $52 million on revenue of $244.8 million. The five-year-old company expects to continue to lose money as it pursues expansion plans. The SEC filing lists $61 million in cash and $99.6 million in debt. Since March 31, the company has borrowed another $63.5 million. [Image Credit: © Blue Apron ]
Maria Armental, "Blue Apron Files for IPO", The Wall Street Journal, June 01, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Health And Personal Care Sales Booming Online, Led By Amazon

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. sales of health and personal care (HPC) products slowed in the first quarter by one percent year-over-year, mainly in brick-and-mortar stores. Online sales were up in the quarter, led by Amazon.com. As of the first quarter of 2017, the U.S. HPC market was valued at $80.6 billion, while Amazon sales represented $1.3 billion. Year over year growth of HPC sales on Amazon in the first quarter was 30 percent. According to One Click Retail, consumers are abandoning in-store shopping for HPC products in favor of online shopping. Within Amazon, the rate of growth for HPC is highest in Prime Pantry, with top categories multiplying revenue by as much as five times.
Nathan Rigby, "Amazon Pantry Drives Health & Personal Care Sales: The Amazon Effect", One Click Retail, May 31, 2017, © One Click Retail
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Peapod Fine-Tunes Customers’ Online Search Options

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Peapod ]
"Peapod Expands Nutrition Filter Options To Help Shoppers Make Mindful Food Decisions Even Faster", News release, Peapod, May 31, 2017, © Peapod
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Inflation Boosts U.K. Grocery Sales Numbers

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Chris Hayward, "Market heats up as Aldi and Lidl grow at fastest rate since 2015", News release, Kantar Worldpanel, May 31, 2017, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Fnac-Darty’s CEO To Be Named Head Of Carrefour

May 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Johan Van Geyte, "Bompard may become Carrefour's new CEO", RetailDetail, May 30, 2017, © RetailDetail
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Tesco Reports Improved Sales And Profits In FY 2017

May 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Tesco Plc
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Ulta Beauty Posts Strong Sales Gains In 1Q Of 2017

May 25, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Ulta
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Walmart Opens Flagship Online Store For China Market On JD.com

May 25, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Bien Perez, "US retail giant Walmart launches flagship online store on JD.com", South China Morning Post, May 25, 2017, © South China Morning Post
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Wal-Mart's South African Business Massmart Posts Weaker Like-For-Like Sales

May 25, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Tiisetso Motsoeneng, "Wal-Mart's South African arm Massmart reports drop in like-for-like sales", Reuters, May 25, 2017, © Reuters
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More Women In Australia Buy Cosmetics At Pharmacies, Roy Morgan Research Says

May 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Roy Morgan Research
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Walgreens Boots Alliance Communications Chief Retires

May 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
John Harrington, "Walgreens Boots Alliance comms chief Yves Romestan retires", PRWeek , May 23, 2017, © Haymarket Media Group Ltd.
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Walmart Unveils 2017-2018 Investment Plans For Florida

May 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Business Wire, Inc.
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Lidl Opens Online Store In China

May 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Yoni Van Looveren, "Lidl launches Chinese web shop", RetailDetail, May 22, 2017, © RetailDetail
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Facebook Expands Food Order/Delivery Feature On Desktops And Phones

May 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Facebook ]
Sarah Perez, "Facebook Rolls Out a New “Order Food” Option in its Main Navigation", Tech Crunch, May 19, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Potential Hikes In Prices, Fate Of NHS, Have British Consumers On Edge

May 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Google, Amazon Top LinkedIn’s List Of Desirable Employers

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.” [Image Credit: © LinkedIn ]
"Amazon Ranks #2 on LinkedIn’s Annual Top Companies List", News release, Amazon, May 18, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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As Retail Industry Continues To Sag, Walmart Booms

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Walmart Stores, Inc.
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Unilever Indonesia Joins Local Online Shopping Platform Blibli.com

May 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © PT. Niskala Media Tenggara
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Target’s Q1 Numbers Are Promising, But There’s Still Work To Do

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © Target Brands, Inc.
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U.S. Grocery Chain Owner Delhaize Honored For Diversified Hiring Practices

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © EnsembleIQ
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Jean Coutu To Sell Clinique Beauty Products In Canada

May 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Faye Brookman, "Canada’s Jean Coutu Secures Clinique", Women’s Wear Daily, May 17, 2017, © Penske Media Corporation
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Pizza Doughnuts: In An Age Of Doughnut Creativity, Why Not?

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.  [Image Credit: © NBC Connecticut ]
"The Pizza Donut: A Match Made in Junk Food Heaven", WHOtv.com, May 16, 2017, © WHO: A Tribune Broadcasting Station
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Kroger Announces Changes To Senior Executive Lineup

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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, © The Kroger Company
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Trusted Brands In 40+ Product Categories Listed By Reader’s Digest

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.  [Image Credit: © Reader's Digest ]
"Reader’s Digest Annual Survey Determines the Most Trusted Brands in America", News release, Reader's Digest, May 16, 2017, © Reader's Digest
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Boots Names RB Executive Reed Head Of UK Trading

May 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Grace Bowden, "Boots poaches Reckitt Benckiser exec Richard Reed for new role", Retail Week, May 16, 2017, © Ascential Information Services Limited
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British Grocery Chain Seeks To “Rescue” Scorned Bananas

May 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Sainsbury's ]
"Sainsbury’s launches in store ‘Banana Rescue’ stations, giving new a-peel to bin-bound fruit ", News release, Sainsbury’s, May 15, 2017, © J Sainsbury plc
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Lidl Readies Invasion Of U.S. Retail Market

May 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.
Nandita Bose, "Germany's Lidl prepares to enter U.S. supermarket wars", Reuters, May 12, 2017, © Reuters
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Consumers Contribute To Extended Economic Recoveries Because Of Buying Habits

May 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
“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.
Sergio Rebelo, "Recessions Push People to Buy Cheap Things, Which Just Makes Everything Worse", Harvard Business Review, May 12, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Grocery Discounter Aldi Increases The Pressure On Low-Price Competitors

May 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
German discount grocery chain Aldi is solidifying its gains in the U.S. market by competing even more on price, enhancing its product line, and remodeling stores and adding new ones. Internal research shows that Aldi already undercuts Walmart prices by an average of 21 percent, and it plans to keep the pressure on. The pricing strategy, aimed directly at low-price competitors like Walmart, includes expanding its array of private-label products. The company will spend $1.6 billion to expand and remodel 1,300 of its 1,600 U.S. stores, while opening 400 new stores in Florida, Texas and on the East and West coasts within a year and a half. CEO Jason Hart said all of these moves are designed to convince grocery shoppers to start their shopping trips at Aldi. [Image Credit: © Aldi Corporation ]
Nandita Bose, "Exclusive: Aldi raises stakes in U.S. price war with Walmart", Reuters, May 11, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Whole Foods Market Names Manbeck Chief Financial Officer

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Whole Foods Market, Inc., said it has named Keith Manbeck as executive vice president and chief financial officer effective May 17, 2017. With more than 20 years of experience as financial and operational executive at leading companies, Manbeck joins the retailer's management team implementing an expanded strategy to improve shareholder value. Manbeck was SVP of digital finance, strategy management, and business transformation at Kohl's Corp. since 2014 and, before that, was global VP and CFO for Nike's Direct to Consumer business.
"Whole Foods Market Appoints Keith Manbeck as Chief Financial Officer", Whole Foods Market, May 10, 2017, © Whole Foods Market
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Whole Foods Market Suffers Another Quarterly Drop In Same-Store Sales

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods Market posted generally healthy second quarter financials, but endured another quarterly decline in same-store sales. Total sales were up 1.1 percent to a record $3.7 billion for the quarter. Same-store sales, however, slid 2.8 percent, the seventh consecutive quarterly drop. Profit was $99 million (2.6 percent of sales), or an expected $0.37 a share. The company returned $45 million in dividends to shareholders. CEO John Mackey said a key goal is to return to positive same-store sales and earnings growth next year, though the company expects same-store sales to remain depressed this fiscal year. It hopes to trim $300 million in costs this year, and has hired a consulting firm to help it figure out how. Keith Manbeck was named the new chief financial officer. [Image Credit: © Whole Foods Market ]
"Whole Foods Market Provides Shareholder Update on Accelerated Path to Delivering Shareholder Value and Announces Second Quarter 2017 Results", Earnings release, Whole Foods Market , May 10, 2017, © Whole Foods Market
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West Virginia Entrepreneur Shapes A Talent For Baking Into A Successful Business

May 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.   [Image Credit: © Edible Elegance by Erin ]
Jackie Puglisi , "Bakery begins with bento box cake idea", The Winchester Star (Virginia), May 10, 2017, © The Winchester Star
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Target Tests Next-Day Home Delivery In Minneapolis

May 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Though retailer Target offers free in-store pickup for online orders, the store feels it needs to do more to keep up with competitors Amazon and Walmart, so it has begun an experiment with next-day home delivery of household staples. The company is testing the new service among employees in the headquarters city of Minneapolis, and will expand the test there later in the summer to the general public. For the pilot test, employees using a company debit or credit card will be limited to two 45-pound boxes of household goods, including laundry detergent, paper towels, granola bars and coffee. If the test succeeds, customers who use the Target Restock program will be charged “a low, flat fee,” according to the company.
Roger Yu , "Target to launch next-day delivery of household goods", USA Today, May 09, 2017, © USA Today
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Artisanal Small-Batch Pasta Maker Is A Florida Success Story

May 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Sarasota Farmers Market ]
Maggie Menderski, "Passion and Fresh Ingredients", Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Fla.), May 08, 2017, © GateHouse Media, LLC
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Boulanger Eric Kayser Expands Operations In U.S.

May 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Maison Kayser ]
"French Boulanger Kayser Finds a Niche in US", The Express Tribune, May 06, 2017, © The Express Tribune
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Food Waste Repurposed Into Edible, Profitable New Products

May 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.  [Image Credit: © ChicP ]
Megan Tatum, "How food waste is fueling a new wave of NPD", The Grocer, May 06, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd.
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Einstein Bros. Unveils High Octane Bagel For That Added AM Jolt

May 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [Image Credit: © Einstein Bros. ]
Julie Pennell, "These Caffeinated Bagels Let You Have Your Coffee and Eat It Too", Today, May 05, 2017, © NBCUniversal Media, LLC
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Sally Beauty President Sharon Leite Leaves Company

May 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Sally Beauty Holdings announced Sharon Leite's resignation as president of the company's Sally Beauty chain of beauty and personal care stores effective May 1, 2017. According to the company, it has tasked an executive search firm to find Leite's successor and that, for the meantime, CEO Chris Brickman will act as the business unit's president.
Maria Halkias, "Sally Beauty Looking for a New President after Sharon Leite Resigns", The Dallas Morning News, May 05, 2017, © The Dallas Morning News Inc.
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Minnesota Shop Offers Some Bonkers Donut Variations

May 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.”  [Image Credit: © Glam Doll Donuts ]
Carly Stern, "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, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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China's FMCG Market Grew Slowly In 1Q 2017, Report Says

May 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In China, spending on fast moving consumer goods grew slightly by 1.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2017, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Compared with the previous year, the country's GDP grew 6.9 percent, boosted by a government infrastructure focus and a hot housing market. Of the country's top 5 retailers, Sun Art, Vanguard, and Walmart were able to maintain their market ranking during the year. While Carrefour saw its market share drop by 0.1 point, local retailer Yonghui's share grew from 2.6 percent to 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017.
outpaced the market by opening more stores Jason Yu, "FMCG growth remained challenging in the first quarter, while local retailers outpaced the market by opening more stores", Kantar Worldpanel, May 04, 2017, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Ulta Beauty Sees Better Stock Market Performance Following Surge In Estee Lauder's 3Q Profits

May 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Shares of cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty rose 0.6 percent to 290.36 on the stock market. Beauty conglomerate Estee Lauder's profit performance in the third quarter helped boost the retailer's stock. Also, specialty beauty retailers, including Ulta and Sephora, are popular among younger consumers.
Elaine Low, "Ulta Beauty Shares Break Out As Estee Lauder Pops On Earnings", Investor's Business Daily, May 03, 2017, © Investor's Business Daily, Inc.
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Subway U.K.’s New Low-Sugar Drink Options Lower Calorie Intake By 3.7 Billion

May 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Subway in the U.K. has forged a new beverage contract with Britvic and PepsiCo that means a wider selection of drinks for consumers and a lower overall calorie and sugar intake – as much as 3.7 billion calories by July 2017. Redesigned drinks fountains and refrigerators emphasize the low/no sugar beverage arrays. The changes have already led to significant changes in consumer purchases. Options include no-sugar Pepsi Max or Diet Pepsi, 7Up Free, and Britvic’s lower sugar Orange Tango. Subway says the changes have led to a 30 percent reduction in calorie consumption, or early two million calories per store a year. [Image Credit: © Subway.co.UK ]
"Subway to Cut Almost Four Billion Calories from UK Diets", Food Ingredients 1st, May 03, 2017, © CNS Media BV
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UK's Grocery Market Expands In April 2017 Quarter

May 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In the UK, the grocery market grew 3.7 percent during the 12-week period ending April 23, 2017, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Marking the fastest growth rate since September 2013, the growth is worth almost ₤1 billion in additional sales for the sector. Kantar Worldpanel head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said all of the country's 10 leading retailers posted growth. Strong sales during Easter also helped the market grow, with shoppers spending ₤325 million on Easter eggs, McKevitt added.
"Britain’s Sweet Tooth Helps Grocery Sales Rise", Kantar Worldpanel, May 03, 2017, © TNS UK Limited
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Survey Puts Amazon, Google At Top Of Beloved Consumer Brands List

May 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Digital media and survey research firm Morning Consult says the two “most loved” consumer brands in the U.S. are Amazon and Google, followed by Campbell Soup, Hershey Company, UPS, FedEx, Sony, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Google unit YouTube. The rankings are based on 200,000 interviews that covered 27 consumer brand sectors. In the food and beverage category, beer is led by Heineken, followed by Budweiser and Samuel Adams. Among restaurants, Baskin Robbins is the leader, followed by Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. And Kroger edges out Whole Foods in the grocery category.
Tanya Gazdik, "Amazon, Google 'Most Loved' Brands", MediaPost, May 03, 2017, © MediaPost Communications
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