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1990s Music Inspires Young Bakers To Create Donuts Based On Treats Of Their Youth

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The music – and favorite eats – of the 1990s inspired an entrepreneurial husband-wife baking team to change the direction of their year-old bake shop in Providence, R.I. Social media, particularly Instagram, gave them the shot in the arm that has launched their business skyward. A year into the operation of PVDonuts, Lori and Paul Kettelle were baking in the wee hours of the morning, listening to the golden oldies of the 1990s, the music of their youth. Wouldn’t it be fun to recreate the beloved treats from that era? And so were born the purple-and-blue-frosted Wildberry Pop-Tart donut and the Pop Rocks donut topped with the famous crackling candy. The creations are eminently Instagrammable: the young couple has 30,000 fans on the social media platform. [ Image credit: ©  ]
Valerie Siebert, "Providence Bakery Wins a Legion of Fans on Instagram with Delicious Donuts Based on Popular 90s Treats, from Pop-Tarts to Dunkaroos", Mail Online (U.K.), March 20, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Retail Responds To Lower Profits By Dumping Some Stores, Revamping The Rest

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retail chain CEOs are wondering what to do over the long term about declining store traffic and slipping profit margins. At the core of the problem, some analysts say, is the overheated expansion of brick-and-mortar outlets in the 1980s and 1990s. So far, the options seem to be: filing for bankruptcy (Gander Mountain) or closing stores (Macy’s, Sears). Money saved using these tactics can be applied toward reworking e-commerce operations. Other options include: online buying/store pickup, launching exclusive brands, keeping prices competitive, and installing gadgets and software to make better use of stores. The goal of today’s retail stores, one consultant says, is transformation by “leveraging existing resources.” [ Image credit: © Gander Mountain  ]
Khadeeja Safdar, "Retail Store ‘Bubble’ Has Burst and CEOs Search for Answers", The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Walmart Will Sell Newly Acquired Women’s Fashion Company’s Products On Jet.com

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart’s pursuit of a strategy to expand its e-commerce presence has led to the acquisition of the assets and operations of an online women’s fashion retailer. The company said that Modcloth, “one of the top online specialty retailers of unique women’s fashion and accessories," has 300 employees in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. Walmart will sell Modcloth’s product line on its e-commerce site Jet.com. [ Image credit: © Modcloth ]
Alana Abramson, "Walmart Acquires Online Women’s Clothing Retailer ModCloth", Fortune, March 18, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Organic Bread Brand Provides Detailed Ingredient Source Info To Consumers

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thirty-five-year-old Rudi's Organic Bakery, owned by Hain Celestial, has launched two breads that provide consumers detailed information about the source of the grain in each loaf. The traceability information comes thanks to a partnership with Community Grains, which gathers information from the local farmer suppliers. Community Grains monitors each step of flour production, from sourcing seed, growth through harvest, and preservation of nutrients and flavor with whole milling. The two new Rudi’s breads are certified USDA organic and use only organic cracked wheat, organic rolled oats and organic sunflower oil, all without genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [ Image credit: © Rudi's Organic Bakery ]
"Rudi's Organic Bakery® Launches New Traceable Organic Bread Line with Community Grains", News release, Hain Celestial, March 16, 2017, © Hain Celestial
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Decadence Plus Health: Formula For Success Of California Doughnut Shop

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Sacramento, Calif., doughnut enterprise is expanding, thanks to its focus on healthy products. Dr. Bob’s Donuts & DoYos steams its doughnuts and tops them with hemp seeds and acai chia pudding, quite a departure from the sugary glazes so familiar to doughnut lovers. Other toppings including banana chia pudding and milled flaxseed and agave pumpkin seeds. Sugar glazes are available but are "made in a mindful way," The co-owner and chef of Dr. Bob’s says its success is based on the "growing market" of health-conscious consumers. [ Image credit: © Dr. Bob's Donuts & DoYos ]
Sonya Sorich, "Goodbye, Gluttonous Glaze: Healthy Doughnuts are coming to Folsom", Sacramento Business Journal, March 16, 2017, © American City Business Journals
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Ulta Beauty Offers Growth Opportunities For Personal Care And Beauty Brands

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Beauty retailer Ulta Beauty is expanding, with sales and profits growing despite the slowdown in the overall brick-and-mortar retail market. In the last quarter of 2016, the company saw its profits grow 16.6 percent compared with the same period in the previous year, and double-digit same-store sales growth for eight consecutive years. Personal and beauty care brands can benefit from investing in the retailer, especially its omnichannel platform. Also, brands should collaborate with Ulta's editorial and social media operations.
Homa Zaryouni, "Why Brands Should Invest in Ulta", L2 Daily, March 16, 2017, © L2 Inc.
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Meijer Expands Home Delivery Service Across Midwestern Market

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Meijer is expanding its home delivery service across the Midwestern market. Meijer's move follows the success of a test of the service in the Detroit area where more than 65,000 orders for home delivery were received by the company. Mejier, in partnership with Shipt, offers the membership-based service with $99 annual subscription fee and offers unlimited free grocery deliveries on orders worth more than $35. Meijer president Rick Keyes said the company learned many lessons from the Detroit test, including the demographic groups that used the service.
Dale Buss, "Groceries on Demand: 5 Questions With Meijer President Rick Keyes", Brandchannel, March 16, 2017, © Interbrand
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Lidl Eyes Faster Expansion Into U.S. Grocery Market

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Discount grocery retailer Lidl plans to open its first U.S. store in summer 2017 in Fredericksburg, Va., and to have 20 stores operating by end of the year in that state, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Va. stores represent a key phase of the company’s U.S. expansion plans. It expects to have 100 stores operating by mid-2018. Having established headquarters in Arlington, Va., Lidl must hire more than 4,000 employees for its first 100 stores. It has built distribution centers in Va., N.C., and Md..To help close the pricing gap with grocery discounters like Lidle, Walmart is working with suppliers and packaged goods vendors to improve logistics.
Walter Loeb, "Lidl Speeds Up U.S. Invasion Plans -- Supermarket Chains Should Be Afraid", Forbes, March 15, 2017, © Forbes Media LLC
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McDonald’s Enters The World Of Smartphone Food Ordering

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Hoping to win back the drive-in customers it lost over the past four years, McDonald’s is at last testing a mobile ordering app it is satisfied with. The company is showing off the technology in Chicago where a new high tech demo restaurant was built with a redesigned kitchen that speeds order flow. McDonald’s hopes to avoid the disasters Starbucks encountered when its app generated a flood of orders that overwhelmed stores and drove away impatient walk-in customers. The company says order automation will cut transaction times, reduce errors, and free up workers to deliver food to tables or to cars parked in mobile order spots.[ Image credit: © McDonald's Corp. ]
"McDonald’s Finally Has Mobile Ordering", Fortune, March 15, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Carrefour Spain To Go On Youth Hiring Spree In Spain To Boost Marketing Strength

March 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
French multinational grocery  retailer Carrefour says its Spanish unit will invest in youth employment to support its “omnichannel transformation” by hiring young people with sales experience, digital know-how, client service skills, and teamwork ability. About 4,300 jobs will be filled by integrating staff from stores acquired from Basque cooperative Eroski. The total of new “stable” jobs to be created in the country will be about 5,300 this year, bringing the company’s workforce in Spain to 49,000. [ Image credit: © Carrefour  ]
"Carrefour Spain to Create 5,300 'Stable' Jobs in 2017", European Supermarket Magazine, March 13, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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Rotisserie Chicken Chain Pledges Antibiotics-Free Chicken By March 2018

March 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Add Boston Market to the list of restaurant chains committed to serving only antibiotics-free chicken. The company says that by July 2017, 75 percent of its chickens will have been raised without the drugs; within a year all of its chickens will be raised without the drugs. Boston Market unveiled a “quality guarantee” in January that states it will serve all natural, fresh, whole chickens that are U.S.-farm raised without added hormones or steroids,100 percent antibiotic-free, MSG free, and gluten free. [ Image credit: © Boston Market ]
"Boston Market Commits To Serving 100 Percent Antibiotic-Free Rotisserie Chicken", News release, Boston Market, March 10, 2017, © Boston Market
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MAC Cosmetics Says To Sell Products Via Ulta Beauty Stores

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Beauty brand MAC Cosmetics plans to sell its products through retailer Ulta Beauty. Part of the brand’s efforts to revive slowing sales, MAC Cosmetics products will first be sold via the retailer’s online store starting in May 2017 then through 25 Ulta Beauty branches in June 2017. By the end of 2017, MAC Cosmetics products will be available in more than 100 Ulta stores, MAC global brand president Karen Buglisi Weiler said.
Pete Born, "MAC Cosmetics to Enter Ulta Beauty in Bid for New Audience", Women’s Wear Daily, March 09, 2017, © Penske Media Corporation
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Ulta Reports Notable Sales, Profit In Fiscal 2016

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. beauty retailer Ulta reported earnings per share of $2.24 (up 32,5 percent) on $4.85 billion in fiscal 2016 sales, an increase of $854.7 million (24.6 percent). Net sales in the fourth quarter increased 24.6 percent to $1.58 billion from $1.27 billion last year. Same-store sales (including e-commerce sales) for the fiscal year were up 15.8 percent compared to 11.8 percent in fiscal 2015. Net income for the year increased 28 percent to $409.8 million compared to $320 million in fiscal 2015; and income per diluted share rose increased 30.9 percent to $6.52 compared to $4.98 in fiscal 2015. For fiscal 2017, the company expects to grow sales by eight to 10 percent (including e-commerce) and open 100 new stores.  [ Image credit: © M.O. Stevens  ]
"Ulta Beauty Announces Fourth Quarter 2016 Results", Earnings release, Ulta Beauty, March 09, 2017, © Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance
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Carrefour Posts Solid Fiscal 2016 Financial Performance

March 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Despite continued softness in the French market, retailer Carrefour SA posted full-year earnings of $1.01 billion, close to the $1.15 billion that Wall Street analysts had expected. Full-year net sales were $80.7 billion, 2.7 percent higher than last year. The company did not change its full-year dividend. The group had said earlier this year that fourth quarter sales were 3.9 percent higher at $24.9 billion. Operating profits in France, which represents about 25 percent of its total profit, fell 13.4 percent to $1.1 billion. The company said performance in the food sector was good in all countries; sales growth was “excellent” in Brazil and “continued positive momentum” in Europe, “reflecting the relevance of the predominantly food-based multiformat model.” [ Image credit: © Carrefour ]
"Carrefour 2016 Full-Year Results", Earnings release, Carrefour, March 09, 2017, © Carrefour
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Aldi To Use Alibaba Online Platform To Market German Brands In China

March 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Germany’s fast-growing discount grocery chain Aldi hopes to interest Chinese consumers in German food and beverage brands, especially wine, snacks and breakfast foods. With that goal in mind, the company will "soft launch" an online presence on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform, followed by a full launch event in Shanghai on April 25. The Chinese venture is being managed by Aldi South, owner of Aldi U.S. and manager of the British chain. An Alibaba manager said the Chinese middle-class is increasingly interested in German products. [ Image credit: © Aldi ]
Victoria Bryan, "German discounter Aldi to start online sales in China", Reuters, March 03, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Kroger CEO “Disappointed” With 4th Quarter Profit

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger posted a disappointing 4th quarter profit of $506 million (53¢ a share), down from $559 million (57¢ a share) last year. Sales were $27.6 billion, up 5.5 percent ($26.2 billion) from a year ago. Net earnings for fiscal 2016 totaled $1.98 billion, or $2.05 a share. Excluding the restructuring of some multi-employer pension obligations, adjusted net earnings for the year were $2.05 billion, or $2.12 a share (up from 2015’s $2.04 billion, or $2.06 a share. The company said it created 12,000 new supermarket jobs in 2016. CEO Rodney McMullen, noting that the company was “obviously disappointed” with 4th quarter profit, said further cost cutting would allow the company to reach its long-term EPS growth rate target of 8 to 11 percent. [ Image credit: © Kroger Co. ]
"Kroger Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results", Earnings release, Kroger, March 02, 2017, © The Kroger Company
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Dunkin’ Donuts Parent Company To Replace Synthetic With Natural Colorings

March 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As part of an ongoing plan to offer cleaner menu labels, the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins said it will replace artificial colorings in its foods with naturally-sourced colorings by the end of 2018. Dunkin' Brands Group said its doughnuts unit will remove synthetic colors from donut icings, fillings, toppings, frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Likewise, Baskin-Robbins will remove synthetic colors from all ice cream, syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages. In 2014, Dunkin' Brands revamped its new product development process to focus on reformulating products to simplify ingredient labels, and reduce sodium and sugar content without sacrificing flavor. [ Image credit: © Anthony92931  ]
"Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins Plan to Remove Artificial Colorings from U.S. Menus by End of 2018", News release, Dunkin' Brands Group, March 02, 2017, © Dunkin' Brands Group
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Consumer Goods Forum Draws Closer To Meeting Goals In Latest Health And Wellness Report

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global network of business stakeholders from 70 countries with a mission to help accomplish health and wellness-related Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations by implementing Health and Wellness Resolutions, released its the fourth edition of its Annual Health and Wellness Progress Report. CGF noted progress in the Commitments signed by its members: the first commitment is for greater transparency in nutritional policies and product formulation and the second commitment is to implement better employee health and wellness programs. Of the companies that participated in the CGF survey over the last two years, 38% has met the first commitment and 66% achieved the second the commitment. The CGF notes that larger companies worldwide are demonstrating leadership in meeting their health and wellness goals and are inspiring other members to move forward. The report provides comprehensive information on the progress of health and wellness programs across the world. It reveals that some 2.3 billion people and 30,000 communities have been reached by H&W programs, with 1.3 million employees, 1.4 million H&W professionals and 386,000 schools participating in its implementation. Interestingly, some 180,000 products have been redesigned to align with the H&W resolutions of member companies. [Image credit © The Consumer Goods Forum]
"Health & Wellness Progress Report", The Consumer Goods Forum, March 01, 2017, © Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
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Amazon Anticipates Permission From India To Launch Produce Delivery Venture

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon Fresh, a growing competitor of supermarkets in the U.S., U.K., and Europe, is waiting for foreign direct investment approval from the Indian government before launching a grocery delivery operation there. The company expects to be delivering produce, lentils, milk, and other staples sourced from local farmers. Amazon already sells fresh produce and dairy products through its Amazon Now venture in four Indian cities, though the food is sourced from local supermarkets.[ Image credit: © SounderBruce ]
Writankar Mukherjee, "Amazon Awaits FDI Approval to Deliver Groceries at Doorstep ", Economic Times, March 01, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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It’s Really Not More Expensive To Eat Healthful Foods

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Are poor diets and obesity the direct result of the unaffordability of healthful food? According to one analyst, the answer is no, though many people believe it. One reason for that is that some studies have looked at food prices on a price-per-calorie basis, which makes many high-calorie foods seem inexpensive. For example, a low-calorie yogurt would appear more expensive than an identical high-calorie yogurt even though their retail prices are the same. Christopher Snowdon says his report compares directly the prices of healthy and less healthy food substitutes and also compares them by “edible weight.” He found almost no difference between the price of regular food products and their healthier substitutes. Analyzing by edible weight, healthier supermarket food tends to be cheaper than less healthy food. [ Image credit: © Peg93, Wikimedia  ]
Christopher Snowdon, "Cheap As Chips", Report, The Institute of Economic Affairs, March 01, 2017, © The Institute of Economic Affairs
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Future Group Eyes Expansion Into Personal Care

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani said the Indian retailer will focus next on the personal care market, following its signing of a joint venture deal with organic products company Hain Celestial. To better focus on its core fashion and food businesses, and to ensure the success of the Hain venture, the company plans to sell its home furnishings unit HomeTown and close sportswear retail unit Planet Sports. [ Image credit: © Future Group ]
Priya Sheth, "Future Group will Target Personal Care Next: Kishore Biyani", Money Control, February 28, 2017, © e-Eighteen.com Ltd.
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Target Reports Earnings Shortfall, Feeble Sales Outlook, But Strong Online Sales

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks to a disappointing holiday season and other pressures, Target’s 4th quarter and fiscal 2016 sales and earnings fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The company also lowered its outlook for fiscal 2017. One bright sign was that, despite the quarterly drop in same-store sales (1.5 percent), compared to the 1.4 percent expected, digital channel sales rose a robust 34 percent. EPS was $1.45 for the quarter -- $4.58 for the year --  versus $1.51 expected by the Thomson Reuters analyst consensus. Fourth quarter revenue was $20.69 billion versus $20.7 billion expected by analysts. CEO Brian Cornell said the dismal 4th quarter was due to “the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores.” [ Image credit: © Target, Wikimedia ]
"Target Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2016 Earnings", Earnings release, Target Corporation, February 28, 2017, © Target Brands, Inc.
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Tesco Adjusts Customer Service Structure In Its C-Stores To Better Compete

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Tesco is expanding the number of customer service personnel in its Express convenience stores to “improve the shopping experience” for customers. The company is creating what it calls shift leaders, at the same time eliminating deputy manager positions. The new structure, successfully tested in several Express stores, is part of a broader program launched two years ago to make sure the company is poised to compete in the rapidly changing retail sector. About 3,300 shift leader positions are being created in the 1,700+ Express stores. [ Image credit: © Editor5807, Wikimedia Commons ]
"Tesco announces changes to improve the shopping trip in Express stores", News release, Tesco, February 27, 2017, © Tesco PLC
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Walmart Aims To Close Pricing Gap With Aldi, Other Discount Retailers

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is seeking to narrow a pricing gap with discount retailer Aldi, as well as with other U.S.-based retailers, such as Kroger.  According to reports, Walmart launched a price-comparison test in at least 1,200 of its store locations in the country. Also, the retailer is requiring its packaged goods suppliers to lower their product costs. [ Image credit: © Jared C. Benedict, Wikimedia Commons ]
Nandita Bose, "Exclusive: Wal-Mart launches new front in U.S. price war, targets Aldi in grocery aisle", Reuters, February 27, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Walmart Wins In Mexico Bribery Lawsuit

February 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. District Judge recently dismissed a lawsuit accusing Walmart of committing fraud against shareholders of its Walmart de Mexico unit. According to the ruling, holders of the Mexican unit's American depository shares cannot claim that former Wal-Mex Chairman Ernesto Vega and CEO Scot Rank knew or failed their duty for not knowing about the bribery allegations against the company. The judge also ruled against shareholder claims that the defendants were liable for the executives' activity. [ Image credit: © Kalificado Wikimedia ]
Jonathan Stempel, "U.S. Judge Dismisses Case against Walmart over Mexico Bribery", Reuters, February 27, 2017, © Reuters
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The Body Shop Launches Almond Milk & Honey Line Of Body Care Products In Malaysia

February 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Beauty retailer The Body Shop launched the Almond Milk & Honey range of body-care products in Malaysia. Featuring Community Trade-certified almond oil from Spain's Alicante region and honey from Ethiopia's Sheka rainforest, the products include Soothing & Caring Shower Cream, Cleansing Bar, and Gently Exfoliating Cream Body Scrub. TBS highlights simple body care steps: shower, scrub, and moisturize.
Andrea Tim , "The Body Shop introduces new Almond Milk & Honey body care range", Elle, February 24, 2017, © MONGOOSE PUBLISHING
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Watsons Kiosk In Shanghai Features YouCam Makeup App, Allows Customers To Virtually Try On Cosmetics

February 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Watsons' flagship store in Shanghai features a kiosk that comes with augmented-reality-powered facial detection technology. Developed by Perfect Corporation, the YouCam makeup app allows customers to try on more than 30 products from leading makeup brands, such as MaxFactor, Maybelline, and Kate Cosmetics.
"YouCam Makeup App Becomes an Interactive Makeup Consultant in Watsons Shanghai", Business Wire, February 24, 2017, © Business Wire, Inc.
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Amazon Is Top Online Beauty Seller In 2016, Report Says

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com Inc. accounted for 21.1 percent of online beauty sales in 2016, according to 1010data. Online sales excluding those sold by its marketplace sellers reached 14.4 percent of total online beauty sales. Macy's Inc. and Sephora USA Inc. grabbed 17.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively. Data from the market research firm showed the online beauty segment expanded 14 percent in 2016, compared with 2015.
April Berthene , "Amazon nabs the top spot for online cosmetics sales", Internet Retailer, February 23, 2017, © Vertical Web Media
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Report Provides Data For Marketers Targeting Baby Boomers

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A market research firm that analyzed the Baby Boomer generation (“boomers,” age 50 and older) and their financial profiles found that age alone doesn’t determine their preferences and behaviors, because age is mostly an attitude. Marketers need to know that what’s most important is an understanding of financial situation, including income and net worth. “A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing doesn’t work,” according to the report, which identifies distinct financial segments. For example: high income/high net worth boomers are more likely to spend in the retail and online channels; boomers are more likely to buy from direct mail and catalogs; they use Facebook as much as other generations; they use their own computers; and they use email, e-readers, tablets, smartphones and even smart TVs as well as cable and satellite. [ Image credit: © Pixabay / jcfrog-166820/ ]
"Age is an attitude: marketing to the boomers+ population ", Report, Epsilon , February 23, 2017, © Epsilon Data Management, LLC
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Food Deliverer Thistle Launches Frozen Meal Kits For Infants, Toddlers

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food delivery startup Thistle is launching meal kits for busy parents who want to make nutritious baby foods at home. The founders say available baby and toddler foods are not particularly nutritious, and even the healthier options are over-processed, pureed, watery, and don’t taste like real fruits or veggies. The vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen Thistle meal kits are steamed, pureed and spiced at home. The company specializes in organic, gluten-free plant-based ingredients, but also offers omnivore meals. The main competition is baby foods sold in boxes, pouches, and jars by grocery stores. But a few e-commerce companies deliver kid-friendly meals or meal kits to the home. Though 14 percent of consumers are buying food online (Nielsen), it remains to be seen what portion of the $30 billion baby foods and formula market will shift to e-commerce models. [ Image credit: © Matt Preston ]
Lora Kolodny, "Thistle Launches Meal Kits to Make Nutritious Baby Food at Home", Tech Crunch, February 23, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Walmart Posts Sales Growth In 4Q And FY 2017

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart reported total revenue grew 1.0 percent to $130.9 billion in the fourth quarter of FY 2017, compared with the same period in the previous year. Excluding currency impact, total revenue grew 3.0 percent to $133.6 billion during the period, the company said. Same-store sales for Walmart U.S. increased 1.8 percent, pushed up by 1.4 percent increase in traffic, while Neighborhood Market comp sales rose about 5.3 percent. Also, Walmart U.S. posted strong growth, with sales and GMV rising 29.0 percent and 36.1 percent, respectively. Walmart International reported net sales dropped 5.1 percent to $31.0 billion; however, without currency impact, net sales grew 3.0 percent to $33.7 billion. For fiscal year 2017, total revenue rose 0.8 percent to $485.9 billion; without currency impact, however, total revenue grew 3.1 percent to $496.9 billion. [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons ]
"Walmart U.S. Q4 comps grew 1.8% and Walmart U.S. eCommerce GMV grew 36.1%", Walmart, February 21, 2017, © Walmart Stores, Inc.
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Walmart Posts Robust Quarterly Sales, But Big Drop In Profit

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart’s same-store sales were impressive during the winter holidays, but the company’s e-commerce battle with Amazon is hurting profit. Same-store sales rose 1.8 percent in the quarter that ended January 31, 2017, the tenth consecutive quarterly rise. But profit fell 18 percent as the company pursues its strategic goal of becoming “more of a digital enterprise,” as CEO Doug McMillion put it. Online sales, which included full quarter sales performance from Jet.com, acquired last September, rose 16 percent. E-commerce sales rose 21 percent in the previous quarter. Other downward pressures on profit include plans to raise store workers’ wages and lower prices. [ Image credit: © Walmart ]
Sarah Nassauer, "Walmart Posts Strong Holiday Sales, But E-Commerce Battle With Amazon Pinches Profit", The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Supermarket Bakeries Ride The Crest Of The Fresh Breakfast Trend

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
In-store bakeries in supermarkets have one key advantage over other food channels like c-stores and quick service restaurants: their products are baked fresh each morning. Freshness is what attracts foodies and others looking for a unique breakfast experience. Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard’s bakers, for example, turn on the ovens at its five stores at 3 a.m. every day to make French butter croissants, apple cider doughnuts, and hand-shaped bagels that are boiled and hearth-baked. Currently trendy is anything mini-sized, including mini-croissants and mini-muffins, but also higher grain products like bran muffins and trail mix muffins. In-store breakfast bakery revenue, including sales of bagels, muffins, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and coffee cake, were up 2.8 percent during the 52 weeks ending December 31, 2016, according to Nielsen. [ Image credit: © Paul Swansen  ]
Julie Gallagher, "In-Store Bakeries Compete for Morning Share", Supermarket News, February 21, 2017, © Penton
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Retail Food Chain Says All House Brands Are Non-GMO

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Natural and organic food retailer Earth Fare (Asheville, N.C.) announced that none of its 500 house brand foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). The decision to sell only non-GMO foods was made after considering numerous customer requests. Earth Fare’s product line is also free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats, artificial trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, antibiotics, and growth hormones. The chain also tries to incorporate locally produced fruits and vegetable, meat, beer and wine, dairy products, and specialty items. [ Image credit: © Earth Fare ]
"Earth Fare Unveils New Non-GMO Product Line, Continues Decades-Long Commitment to Healthy Food", News release, Earth Fare, February 17, 2017, © Earth Fare
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Waitrose Supermarket Chain Is In The Avant Garde Of Food Waste Handling

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Waitrose has been a pioneer in preventing and repurposing food waste. Five years ago it stopped sending waste to landfills. Surplus food that can’t be donated to charities is used to generate electricity. And it sells wonky (misshapen or ugly) produce at a discount. The chain has taken the program another step forward: its new fleet of delivery trucks runs on fuel made from food leftovers. The company’s ten eco-friendly trucks can travel 500 miles on the food-waste fuel, which is cheaper than diesel and emits about 70 percent less carbon dioxide. Waitrose chose waste-based gas after researching biodiesel (too expensive) and electricity (batteries too heavy, recharge time too long) [ Image credit: © EDDIE ]
Adele Peters, "These Grocery Delivery Trucks Are Powered By Food Waste", Fast Company, February 17, 2017, © Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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Carrefour Sues Lidl For Alleged Unfair Business Practices

February 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Carrefour has filed a lawsuit with the Commercial Court of Evry against discount retailer Lidl for alleged unfair commercial practices. According to a report by Challenges, the French retailer is seeking damages for Lidl’s failure to comply with rules regarding promotion of products. Promotion rules require promoted products to remain in all stores for at least 15 weeks.
"Carrefour Takes Legal Action Against Lidl France", European Supermarket Magazine, February 17, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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Kroger Recognized For Inclusive Corporate Buying Practices

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A company that provides an online platform for entrepreneurial B2B networking and education has ranked the Kroger Co. eighth on its top 50 list of corporate buyers who offer multicultural products and services. Omnikal, once known as Diversity Business, says Kroger was chosen by two million minority- and women-owned business owners. Omnikal.com is a division of Computer Consulting Associates, Inc. [ Kroger headquarters, Cincinnati, Ohio; Image credit: © Derek Jensen ]
"Kroger Named a Top 10 American Company for Inclusion", News release, Kroger , February 16, 2017, © The Kroger Company
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Lidl Eyes Opening First US Stores In Summer 2017

February 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
German discount retailer Lidl plans to open its first 20 stores in the US in summer 2017. Earlier than what the company previously announced, the store openings are expected to ramp up to reach 100 stores within a year. US retailers are expectedly enhancing their ability to compete with the discounter, with Kroger, for example, expanding its Ruler Foods discount business, while organic food retailer Whole Foods launched its 365 lower-priced concept in 2016.
Victoria Bryan, "German discounter Lidl to open first U.S. stores this summer", Reuters, February 15, 2017, © Reuters
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Metro Plans To Have Over 2,000 Stores In Russia By 2020

February 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Metro said it plans to open more than 2,000 stores in Russia by 2020, according to Metro Cash&Carry Russia chief executive Jere Calmes. At present, the Germany-based retailer’s Russian operations are centered in the Moscow and St Petersburg regions.
Olga Sichkar, "Germany's Metro plans to add 2,000 franchise stores in Russia by 2020", Reuters, February 15, 2017, © Reuters
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Walmart Ends All Contracts With South Korean Shipping Companies

February 14, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has terminated all contracts with South Korea-based shipping companies following the Korean government’s move to allow Hanjin Shipping go bankrupt. One of Hanjin Shipping’s biggest consignors for over 20 years, Walmart is reportedly the most adversely affected by the debt-ridden shipping company’s filing for court receivership. Hanjin Shipping had handled about 10 percent of Walmart’s total freight volume, or as many as 30,000 containers, every year.
Jhoo Dong-chan, "Walmart cuts contracts with Korean shippers after Hanjin fiasco", Korea Times, February 14, 2017, © ktimes.com
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Tesco Moves To Make Sure Promo Prices Are Updated

February 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
UK retailer Tesco is making sure that prices on stores’ on-shelf promotions are up to date. Tesco took the step following a story by an undercover reporter broadcast by the BBC Inside Out TV program. According to the reporter, promotional offers at two-thirds of Tesco stores visited had prices were out of date and not honored at the checkout. Also, some stores failed to remove old labels on the shelves even after reporters told them of the discrepancies.
Ian Quinn, "Tesco Orders Promotion Checks after Damning BBC Probe", The Grocer, February 13, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Smartphones Will Be The Pillar Of U.K. E-Commerce By 2020

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Smartphones are rapidly becoming the technological engine powering e-commerce in the U.K., according to a report from OC&C Strategy Consultants, Google and PayPal. Within three years, mobile purchases will account for two-thirds of e-commerce sales – £43 billion – up from £13.5 billion in 2016. Another £14 billion of online retail will involve a smartphone in product research and price comparison, meaning that 80 percent of all U.K. e-commerce by 2020 will be handled over a smartphone. But despite these forecasts, U.K. retailers lag behind U.S. and Asian competitors in terms of mobile readiness, the report notes.  [ Image credit: © Jason Howie  ]
Paul Skeldon, "Smartphone Shopping to Account for Two Thirds of UK E-Commerce by 2020, says Google, PayPal Study", Internet Retailing, February 10, 2017, © SJP Business Media
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Wal-Mart Closes Stores, Lays Off Workers In Brazil

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart closed five stores in Brazil, as part of the US retailer’s downsizing efforts in the country. Affecting the Nacional and Todo Dia business units, the store closures came at the same time the company laid off employees from its commercial and administrative departments. Wal-Mart is expected to shut down more supermarkets in the country in 2017.
"Wal-Mart Continues Downsizing In Brazil, Closes Five Stores", European Supermarket Magazine, February 10, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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McDonald’s Experiments With Fast-Food Versions Of Regional Favorites

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A TV chef in San Jose, Calif., helped McDonald’s develop a fast-food variation of a local sandwich – snow crab on sourdough – that features crab meat, seasoned mayo, romaine lettuce and tomato slices. The company said the new sandwich is part of an ongoing strategy to incorporate regional flavors in new menu items, at least in the greater San Francisco Bay area. McDonald’s called an earlier experiment – Gilroy Garlic Fries – an “overwhelming success.” If the snow crab trial is a similar triumph, the company will offer it in the rest of its 250 eateries in the area. [ Crab Sandwich, image credit: © McDonald's ]
"McDonald's Tests Crab on Sourdough", News release, QSR Web, February 10, 2017, © Networld Media Group, LLC
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Target Adds More Brands To Collection Of Natural Beauty Products

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Target is expanding its natural beauty care collections by adding more natural beauty brands, including Alaffia, Little Seed Farm, and Nubian Heritage, to the lineup. With millennial consumers showing preference for healthy and natural beauty options, the retailer seeks to position itself as their first choice for affordable natural beauty products. As part of this initiative, Target aims to achieve full ingredient transparency for beauty, personal care, baby care, and household care products by 2020. Target is requiring suppliers to remove toxic and dangerous ingredients, such as phthalates, propylparaben, and butylparaben, from their products.
Rachel Brown, "Target Boosts Selection of Natural Beauty Products", Women’s Wear Daily, February 10, 2017, © Penske Media Corporation
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Aldi Continues To Beat Back Resistance By Big U.K. Grocery Chains

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The U.K.’s big supermarket chains are resisting the successful invasion by German discount grocers Aldi and Lidl. Tesco Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons have all implemented strategies that sacrifice profit to fund price cuts, improve service, and retain market share. All say the price gap with the discounters has narrowed. But an Aldi exec says its own data show that “if anything, the price differential between Aldi and the big four is growing at the moment.” And Aldi is still growing sales .Industry data show Aldi has overtaken the Co-operative to become Britain's fifth largest chain with a market share of 6.2 percent. It has grown total sales by 12.4 percent, thanks in part to an aggressive store building program.   [ Image credit: © Wikimedia ]
James Davey , "Aldi still thriving in U.K., despite rivals' claims, says CEO", Reuters, February 10, 2017, © Reuters
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Amazon Expands Its Order Fulfillment Capacity With Two New Centers in California

February 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com said it will build two new fulfillment centers in California, adding 2,000 jobs for associates who will pick, pack, and ship customer orders. The company did not say when the new centers in Eastvale and Redlands will open, but together they will have nearly two million square feet of storage space. A center being built in Sacramento is expected to open this year. Amazon employs 15,000 associates in California. [ Image credit: © Álvaro Ibáñez Wikimedia ]
"Amazon to Create 2,000 New Full-Time Jobs at Two New California Fulfillment Centers", News release, Amazon.com, February 09, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Tesco Tests Program To Feed Bees With Discarded Sugar

February 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British supermarket chain Tesco is testing a program to donate unmarketable split bags of sugar from stores in Cornwall and Devon to a beekeepers group. The stores are also donating surplus sugar from in-store bakeries. Since 2007, the bee population has declined by 33 percent in the U.K. because of pests, diseases and fewer wild flowers. Bees have a difficult time making enough honey to feed themselves during the fall and winter. Commercial beekeepers supplement the bees’ diet with a feed made from dissolved sugar. The waste sugar donated by Tesco stores will be used to help feed bees bred and reared by a bee improvement program based in Cornwall. [ Image credit: © Treesha Duncan  ]
Rebecca Smithers, "Tesco's Plan Bee: Spilt Supermarket Sugar to Help Feed Hungry Honey Bees", The Guardian, February 09, 2017, © Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies
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Wal-Mart Gets Serious About Propping Up UK Unit Asda

February 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart plans to use its resources and strengths as the world’s largest retailer to revive the sales performance and regain market share of its UK business Asda. After Wal-Mart acquired Asda in 1999, the UK retailer performed strongly as the country’s most affordable supermarket. Germany-based discount retailers Aldi and Lidl, which opened in the UK in 1990 and 1994, respectively, grabbed market shares from Asda. Wal-Mart will lend Asda its purchasing strength, which enables it to lower prices and costs.
James Davey , "Wal-Mart aims to leverage British arm Asda back to health", Reuters, February 08, 2017, © Reuters
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Whole Foods Posts Record-High Sales For 1Q 2017

February 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Whole Foods Market, Inc. reported total sales grew 1.9 percent to $4.9 billion for the 16-week first quarter ending January 15, 2017, compared with the same quarter in the previous year. Same-store sales, however, dropped 2.4 percent during the same period. According to the retailer, net income was $95 million, which was 1.9 percent of sales. EBITDA were $360 million, or 7.3 percent of sales, while diluted earnings per share were $0.30. Excluding charges, net income was $123 million, or 2.5 percent of sales, with diluted earnings per share at $0.39. EBITDA was 7.6 percent, with return on invested capital at 12 percent, the company said.
"Whole Foods Market Reports First Quarter Results", Whole Foods, February 08, 2017, © Whole Foods Market
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