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Amazon Announces Plan To Hire 5,000 Part-Time Customer Service Agents

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon said it plans to hire more than 5,000 new part-time employees for is Virtual Customer Service program in 2018. Part of the company’s previously announced plans to hire 30,000 part-time workers in the US, the proposed hiring will strengthen the retailer’s capability to provide customer service. Virtual Customer Service employees are provided with the flexibility to do their job while working from home.
"Amazon to Create 5,000 New, Part-Time, Work-From-Home Jobs over the Next Year", Amazon, April 06, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Panera’s Secret: Consumers Tend To Bypass Competitors To Get There

April 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Panera Bread Co., whose acquisition by Krispy Kreme owner JAB Holdings for $7 billion was recently announced, is a paradigm of success in today’s restaurant chain world. Its menu is upscale and distinctive, the service is fast. But it really began to surpass rivals when three years ago it adopted its ”2.0 plan,” which featured advanced technology for customer ordering and payment, a commitment to clean food (i.e., no preservatives, no artificial or other dubious ingredients), and a sophisticated delivery system. The philosophy is summarized by CEO Ron Shaich: competitive advantage means “being a place where people want to walk past your competitors to come in." 
Zlati Meyer et al., "How Panera Won the Restaurant Game", USA Today, April 06, 2017, © USA Today
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Walgreens Boots Alliance Misses Revenue Mark, But Profit Is Healthy

April 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walgreens Boots Alliance posted second quarter profit of $1.1 billion, an increase of 14 percent over the same period a year ago, on sales of $29.4 billion (a drop of 24 percent and short of expectations by $790 million.). Earnings per share were $0.98, an increase of 15.3 percent. The company said the earnings increases reflect the reduction in the fair value of the company's AmerisourceBergen Corporation warrants a year ago. The drugstore chain saved $1.5 billion, ahead of schedule from its cost transformation program. CEO Stefano Pessina said the results were pretty much what the company expected, “despite some challenging conditions,” and he was pleased with “the growth in pharmacy volume and market share.” The company is optimistic that regulatory agencies will green light its acquisition of Rite Aid by the end of July. [ Image credit: © Walgreens Boots Alliance  ]
"Walgreens Boots Alliance Reports Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter Results", Earnings release, Walgreens Boots Alliance, April 05, 2017, © Walgreens Boots Alliance
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Will Costco Put More Energy Into Online Bulk Sales?

April 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Costco has for the most part downplayed the e-commerce side of its business while emphasizing store traffic, impulse buying, and a “treasure hunt” atmosphere of constant churning of new products. It’s a strategy that continues to be profitable. But investors and analysts think it’s time the bulk-selling giant adapts to modern times. The logistical technology is certainly available, even for Costco-size shipments. A Costco spokesman says the company has been slow on the uptake “on purpose,” but acknowledges “there are things we can do or should be doing.” Now it may be getting tougher: carriers like UPS and FedEx Corp. are beginning to charge based on package size as well as weight. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia  ]
Sarah Nassauer et al., "Why Costco Loves Store Sales: You Try Shipping a Tub of Mayo", The Wall Street Journal, April 05, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Pizza Chain Experiments With All-Natural Toppings, Gluten-Free Crusts

April 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Papa John's announced it is test-marketing in Lexington, Ky., pizza with all-natural ingredients. The company is also offering customers the option of ordering gluten-free pizza crust. The company is partnering with an organic grocery delivery service, Green Bean Delivery, to home deliver pies topped with freshly-sliced roma tomatoes, green peppers and mushrooms, supplied by farms in Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, California and Indiana. Gluten-free pizzas will only be available in the company's Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville markets for the immediate future. [ Image credit: © Papa John's  ]
Lindsay Rittenhouse, "Did Papa John's Just Start Testing the Perfect Pizza?", The Street, April 04, 2017, © TheStreet, Inc.
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Panera’s Stock Price Soars As Rumors Of A Sale Swirl

April 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After receiving “takeover interest,” $6.5 billion Panera Bread is purportedly consulting with business advisors about the possibility of putting itself up for sale. Likely suitors include Starbucks, Domino’s, and JAB Holding, owner of a variety of brands such as Krispy Creme doughnuts and Keurig Green Mountain coffee. Panera’s stock has risen 28 percent over the past year, reaching an all-time high of $261.87 through the end of March. The stock bounded to $282.45 on April 4 when word of a possible sale leaked. None of the potential suitors commented publicly on the news.[ Image credit: © Miosotis Jade  ]
Ed Hammond, "Panera is Exploring Possible Sale after Receiving Interest", Bloomberg Markets, April 04, 2017, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Panera Offers Greater Transparency Regarding Added Sugars, Calories

March 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Panera Bread Co., recently acquired by the owner of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, is the first restaurant chain to label its self-serve sodas and other foundation beverages with added sugars and calories. The federal government does not require such labeling by restaurants, thought it does for other food companies. The company also announced it is introducing six low- and no-sugar teas and lemonades. Panera is committed to phasing out artificial sweeteners and flavors, and is reviewing its entire menu based on the new sugar labeling guidance. The new drinks are being offered in New York, Washington, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. and will be available nationally later in 2017.
Chris Prentice, "Panera Rolls Out 'Added Sugars' Labeling on Fountain Drinks", Reuters, March 31, 2017, © Reuters
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McDonald’s Big Logistical Leap: Quarter Pounders With Fresh Beef

March 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
After successfully testing the use of fresh beef Quarter Pounder burgers cooked to order in more than 400 of its restaurants in Texas and Oklahoma, McDonald’s announced it will roll out nationally over the next year. To accomplish this massive change, the company has secured the cooperation of Lopez Foods and other beef suppliers who will deliver fresh, rather than frozen, ground beef patties. The company said it “received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees” during the Oklahoma and Texas market tests and the decision to go national represents “a watershed moment.” The Quarter Pounder line includes the classic Quarter Pounder, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese Deluxe and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers.
"McDonald's USA Unveils Next Big Change: Fresh Beef Quarter Pounders", News release, McDonald's, March 30, 2017, © McDonald's
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Unilever And Lazada Strengthen Alliance For Better Ecommerce In South East Asia

March 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
An end-to-end alliance between Unilever and Lazada is expected to boost eCommerce in South East Asia and provide consumers with a superior online experience. The agreement is expected to push rapid growth in online retail for the region and address challenges such as high cost of product delivery in certain geographic locations. Category development, supply chain, data and marketing, social commerce and talent development are among the top focus areas for Unilever and Lazada to meet their common goal. The alliance builds on the previously launched partnership between Lazada Singapore and Unilever for an exclusive online store that allows buyers to purchase Unilever products. The companies say this is the first cross-functional collaboration for eCommerce in South East Asia and that it sets new standards in customer experience, supply chain and digital marketing.  
"Unilever and Lazada forge first in e-commerce cross-functional alliance", Unilever, March 30, 2017, © Unilever
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Carrefour Becomes Brazil's Largest Retailer In 2016

March 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Carrefour reported sales in Brazil reached BRL 49.1 billion, or €14.4 billion, in 2016, making it the top retailer in the country. Data from the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets showed Carrefour surpassed the BRL 44.9 billion, or €13.2 billion, GPA had in 2016. Walmart Brazil was at third place with BRL 29.4 billion, or €8.67 billion.
"Carrefour Surpasses GPA as Top Grocery Retailer in Brazil", European Supermarket Magazine, March 29, 2017, © European Supermarket Magazine
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Robots Join Domino’s Delivery Force In German Test

March 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Domino's pizza chain is testing robot-delivered pizza in Europe in partnership with an Estonia start-up. The project is launching in Hamburg, Germany, within the next couple of months. Starship Technologies uses six-wheeled robots that are about two feet tall, weigh 40 pounds when empty, and move at a speed of four miles an hour. Deliveries The robots will deliver food within a mile radius of select Domino's locations. They can mover independently, but during the test will have a human chaperone to make sure nothing bad happens. [ Image credit: © Domino's Pizza  ]
April Glaser, "Domino’s is going to Use Sidewalk Robots in Germany to Deliver Pizza", Recode, March 29, 2017, © Vox Media, Inc.
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Peapod Customers Shopping More Often, Buying More, CMO Says

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Peapod customers are using the online grocery delivery service more frequently and are increasing their basket size, according to the company's CMO Carrie Bienkowski. She said among the factors driving growth in the online grocery delivery service segment are millennials' preference for home-cooked meals and service providers' personalization strategies. Bienkowski described some of her company's personalization tactics, including customized homepage for existing customers and emails based on “transaction behavior.” Also, the company is focused on identifying customer segments, by evaluating transaction behavior.
Tricia Carr, "Peapod Customers Are Buying More, and More Often—Here's Why", eMarketer, March 28, 2017, © eMarketer Inc.
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Chipotle Continues To Rid Its Food Of Artificial Ingredients

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it has eliminated all added colors, flavors and preservatives from the ingredients it uses to prepare its food, but not beverages. Chipotle says it’s the only national food chain to accomplish this. The company’s plan to eliminate artificial ingredients began two years ago with the decision to get rid of unnecessary additives in tortillas it uses to make burritos, tacos, and chips. The new flour tortillas are made using only flour, water, canola oil, salt and yeast. Corn tortillas used for the chips are made only with corn masa flour and water. The ingredients changes will be applied in all Chipotle restaurants in the United States.
"Chipotle Becomes Only National Restaurant Brand to Use No Added Colors, Flavors or Preservatives in Its Food", News release, Chipotle Mexican Grill, March 28, 2017, © Chipotle Mexican Grill
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Chipotle Works To Put Its Food-Poisoning Nightmare In The Rearview Mirror

March 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Chipotle Mexican Grill continues to distance itself from the food-poisoning disasters it endured a couple of years ago by revamping the ingredients it uses in its menu items. In the latest move, the company announced its restaurants are now selling flour tortillas made without preservatives. In all, the chain uses only 51 ingredients – none are GMO – including some organic produce and meat raised without hormones. CEO Steve Ells said the strategy is to focus on “improving the basic, wholesome ingredients” rather than on limited-time offers, extra value meals or “menu proliferation.” The efforts to revive its tarnished reputation and boost sales have yet to kick in, however: same-store sales fell 4.8 percent in the most recent quarter.
Leslie Patton, "Chipotle's Menu Is Now Preservative-Free", Bloomberg Markets, March 28, 2017, © BLOOMBERG L.P.
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Walmart Grabs Bigger Share Of China's Retail Market, Thanks To Chinese New Year

March 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart saw its share of China's retail market grow from 4.8 percent to 5.0 percent in the 12-week period ending January 27, 2017, according to Kantar WorldPanel. Data from the market research firm revealed that the Chinese New Year boosted sales for Walmart and other retailers. Walmart has revised its business strategy in China, adapting to the country's retail market conditions by moving resources to rural areas and opening more Sam's Club stores.
"Walmart reaches new high in Chinese New Year", Kantar WorldPanel, March 27, 2017, © Kantar WorldPanel
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Wal-Mart Revamps Technology Group, Promotes Three Executives

March 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reorganized its technology division, following its $3.3 billion acquisition of online retailer Jet.com Inc. in September 2016. According to the company, the steps are aimed at positioning mobile devices as its main platform, with consumers increasingly using their mobile gadgets to shop both online and physical stores. As part of the revamp, Fiona Tan was promoted to senior vice president of U.S. Customer technology, Jaya Kolhatkar was named SVP of global data and analytics platform, and Jae Evans was promoted to VP of global technical engineering and operations.
Kim S. Nash, "Wal-Mart Reorganizes Tech Group to Strengthen Mobile", The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Amazon Working To Iron Out Kinks In Its Cashierless Store Model

March 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Technical glitches are delaying the debut of Amazon.com’s cashierless brick-and-mortar convenience store, Amazon Go,scheduled to open at the end of April in Seattle. The innovative store automatically charges customers when they exit.  No cash registers are used. The delay spotlights the difficulties the online retailer is experiencing as it implements a strategy to broaden its retail influence, especially in food sales. Observers say the cashierless technology works perfectly as long as there are 20 or fewer customers in the store. It also has a problem tracking items once they leave the store shelf. [ Image credit: © Amazon.com  ]
Laura Stevens, "Amazon Delays Opening of Cashierless Store to Work Out Kinks", The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Walmart Buys Small Online Stores Catering To Higher-End Customers

March 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is buying small, niche-focused online retailers that cater to high-end consumers as part of an effort to compete with Amazon.com. Among the hipster websites acquired by the retailer are clothing retailer ModCloth, outdoor specialty retailer Moosejaw, and online shoe store ShoeBuy. These deals give Walmart access to new brands and higher-spending consumers not normally associated with the retailer. The purchase of the websites, however, has alienated some of the stores' customers, especially those who value independence.
Sarah Nassauer, "With Niche Sites, Walmart Tries Selling to Hipsters", The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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The Body Shop Commits To Comply With UK's Modern Slavery Act

March 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Beauty retailer The Body Shop has issued a statement highlighting the company's commitment to comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. According to the company, it aims to prevent modern slavery across its businesses, as well as its supply chain. This also covers all organizations and companies that play a role in the production and manufacture of its products.
"The Body Shop Outlines Commitment to Modern Slavery Act", Edie.net, March 24, 2017, © Faversham House Ltd
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L'Oreal Travel Retail Sees Strong Sales, Growth In 2016

March 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
L’Oreal Travel Retail enjoyed a strong year in terms of sales and revenue in 2016. According to the company’s annual report, L’Oreal’s travel retail business “strengthened its leadership in the distribution channel.” Makeup was the brand’s fastest-growing category in 2016, the company said.
Lucy Whitehouse, "L’Oreal’s Travel Unit Annual Results", CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com, March 24, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Dunkin’ Brands Treasurer Jaspon Named Interim CFO After Carbone Resigns

March 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Kate Jaspon, Dunkin' Brands treasurer and vice president for finance, was named interim CFO after CFO Paul Carbone resigned. The company said Carbone quit to take a management job in retail, where he worked before signing on with Dunkin’. Jaspon will report to CEO Nigel Travis and will take on the responsibility for accounting, corporate tax, investor relations and competitive intelligence. She is now responsible for global financial planning and analysis, business analytics, debt and cash management, electronic payments and insurance. Jaspon joined Dunkin' Brands as assistant controller in 2005. [ Kate Jaspon, image credit: © Dunkin' Brands  ]
"Dunkin' Brands Announces CFO Leadership Transition", News release, Dunkin' Brands, March 23, 2017, © Dunkin' Brands
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Target Will Start Selling Honest Beauty Products

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Target said it plans to start selling Honest Beauty personal care and beauty products at 800 of its stores across the U.S. and through its target.com online store. Manufactured by The Honest Company, Honest Beauty products are marketed as derived from safe and botanical ingredients and producing “effective results.” Honest Beauty products fit Target's “better for you” collection of safe and effective brands and will be available starting March 26, 2017.
Faye Brookman, "Target Adds Jessica Alba’s Honest Beauty to Its Expanding Assortment", Women’s Wear Daily, March 22, 2017, © Penske Media Corporation
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Amazon Plans To Buy Middle East's Online Retailer Souq.com

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com Inc. plans to acquire Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com, one of the most popular internet retailers in the Middle East. Souq.com describes itself as the largest e-commerce website in the Arab world. Purchasing Souq.com would give Amazon access to the region, which is one of the world's fastest-expanding e-commerce markets.
Hadeel Al Sayegh et al., "Amazon to Buy Middle Eastern Online Retailer Souq.com: Sources", Reuters, March 22, 2017, © Reuters
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China's Online Retail Market To Experience 15 Percent Growth Through

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
China's online retail market will expand at a CAGR of 15 percent in 2016 to 2021, reaching RMB 1.3 trillion in total value by the end of the period, according to Mintel. Data  revealed the country's overall e-commerce market grew from RMB 53 billion in 2011 to about RMB 626 billion in 2016, a CAGR of 64 percent. Also, 73 percent of online shoppers shop for imported products from local online stores, while only 27 percent shop from overseas retail websites. Mintel research also showed 31 percent of consumers purchase imported food from Taiwan, 36 percent buy wine from France, and 45 percent buy beauty and personal care products from South Korea.
"China’s online retail market is expected to reach RMB 1.3 trillion in 2021", Mintel, March 22, 2017, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Lidl Supports NFU's Back British Farming Charter

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Lidl UK has signed the NFU's Back British Farming Charter, a campaign supporting British produce. Joining retailers Aldi, The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, and Waitrose, Lidl UK's move highlights its support for UK farmers. According to the charter, retailers need to have a transparent UK supply chain based on fair relationships, and labels UK produce with a Red Tractor or the UK flag.
Lucinda Dann, "Lidl Signs Up to Back British Farming Charter", Farmers Weekly, March 22, 2017, © Reed Business Information Limited
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Carrefour Launches Online Banking Service

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
France-based retailer Carrefour launched its C-zam online banking service. Part of company CEO Georges Plassat's plan to expand Carrefour's online business, the move sees the retailer moving into an already crowded market. Telecoms company Orange and partner Groupama also plan to launch Orange online banking in May 2017. C-zam lets anyone older than 18 years old and who can present two identification cards to open and activate a current account online in 10 minutes.
Dominique Vidalon, "French Retailer Carrefour Launches New Online Banking Service", Reuters, March 21, 2017, © Reuters
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Amazon To Hire 10,000 Full-Time Workers In Europe

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon plans to create 10,000 full-time jobs across Europe in 2017, including 5,000 in the U.K.  Also, Amazon's plan to open fulfillment centers in Daventry, Doncaster, and Tilbury confirms the company's growing commitment to the British market despite the Brexit decision to leave the European Union. Amazon is also increasing the number of employees at its development centers in London, Cambridge, and Edinburgh.
Holly Browne, "Amazon Plans To Create 5,000 U.K.Jobs", Retail Analysis, March 21, 2017, © The Institute of Grocery Distribution and IGD Services Limited
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Brand Consultant Says Walmart Can’t Match Amazon’s “Value Proposition”

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Brand building consultant Denise Lee Yohn says Walmart’s current plan to “out-Amazon Amazon” is improving its e-commerce capabilities, which is a good thing, but in the long run it’s not a winning strategy. Offering free shipping on orders over $35, for example, makes the customer think about money with every online transaction. Amazon’s Prime members pay an annual fee and forget about it. Moreover, Prime gives members access to movie streaming, photo storage, music streaming, and early access to time-sensitive “Lightning Deals.” Walmart can’t compete with this “value proposition.” What it should do, Yohn says, is leverage its excellent physical distribution and retail network, improve the in-store experience, promote omnichannel shopping and fulfillment options, and develop in-person service innovations.
Denise Lee Yohn, "Walmart Won’t Stay on Top If Its Strategy Is “Copy Amazon”", Harvard Business Review, March 21, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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German Discounters Are “Disrupting” U.S. Retail Grocery Market

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The combined sales of German discount grocery chains Aldi and Lidl in the U.S. could reach $67 billion over the next four years, according to two industry experts speaking at a food marketing conference. This will force U.S. grocery chains to re-examine their own business models while carefully analyzing why the discount model works so well. Aldi and Lidl will be disruptors and a “source of change influence” in the U.S. grocery business. But the two companies are also evolving, learning perhaps from their bigger competitors, by working to overcome product selection limitations, for example; renovating stores; moving beyond the “hard discount” model; creating a “hybrid promotional strategy’ that increases the size of sales flyers, and creates urgency with weekend deals, seasonal offerings and “while they last” promotions.
Jon Springer, "Aldi, Lidl growth to spark industry change", Supermarket News, March 21, 2017, © Penton Media
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Starbucks Unveils Gluten-Free Menu Items

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
One of the more fascinating phenomena in the food industry in recent years has been the transformation of gluten into a dirty word. A tiny fraction of Americans with celiac disease, a severe intestinal allergic reaction to gluten, needs to avoid the wheat protein. But a whole anti-gluten movement – and a multibillion-dollar industry – has arisen to accommodate people convinced that gluten is generally unhealthful. Researcher Technavio says the gluten-free food market is expected to grow at an annual rate of roughly 12 percent through 2021, Tecnomics advises food companies to go along: "if you're not speaking their language, you risk losing [them]." The latest company to “speak their language” is Starbucks, which is launching gluten-free food options – like the gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon and egg sandwich – in U.S. stores.   [ Image credit: © Starbucks  ]
Lauren Thomas, "Starbucks Rolls Out Gluten-Free, Vegan Food Options", CNBC, March 21, 2017, © CNBC LLC
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Amazon Ramps Up Efforts To Expand Internationally

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon is boosting its efforts to expand overseas. In Mexico, the company launched its Prime shipping service for a first-year subscription fee of $23, offering free same-day and one-day shipping. For China-based sellers, Amazon offers the option of using its air cargo service to send products to external markets. With data from L2 showing only 14 percent of e-commerce-friendly brands offering international shipping, Amazon is expected to have a significant advantage in competing in overseas markets.
Evan Bakker, "Amazon is Globalizing its Retail Empire", L2 Daily, March 21, 2017, © L2 Inc.
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Kroger Appoints Grieshaber President Of Fred Meyer Stores

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer The Kroger Co. said it has named Joe Grieshaber president of Fred Meyer Stores. Previously president of Kroger's Columbus division, Grieshaber replaces Jeff Burt who left the company to “pursue other interest.” Dan De La Rosa has been promoted to president of Kroger's Columbus division, replacing Grieshaber.
"Kroger Names Joe Grieshaber President of Fred Meyer Stores, Dan De La Rosa President of Columbus Division", Kroger, March 20, 2017, © S&P Global Market Intelligence/The Kroger Company
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Walmart Creates Tech Incubator And Investment Arm

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has launched its Store No. 8 tech incubator program, according Jet.com founder and Walmart e-commerce business CEO Marc Lore. Speaking at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, Lore said businesses under the program will operate like startups, but will be supported by the retail giant and its vast resources. Store No. 8 will be managed by Seth Beal, Walmart's former SVP for global marketplace and digital operations and Jet.com executive Katie Finnegan.
Laura Heller , "Walmart Launches Tech Incubator Dubbed Store No. 8", Forbes.com, March 20, 2017, © Forbes.com LLC
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Target Appoints Burt SVP For Grocery, Fresh Food, Beverage

March 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Target Corporation said it has named Jeff Burt as senior vice president for grocery, fresh food, and beverage. According to the retailer, Burt's role will include promotion and execution of the company's food and beverage business strategy. He will report to Mark Tritton, Target's EVP and chief merchandising officer.
"Target Names Jeff Burt Senior Vice President, Grocery, Fresh Food and Beverage", Business Wire, March 20, 2017, © Business Wire, Inc.
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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.
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.
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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