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Judge postpones hearing in A&P | Shoprite to accelerate African expansion

Ahold profit rises ahead of merger | Fresh food sales help Target

Swedish ICA reveals H1 results -
Sweden’s ICA has revealed its first half results, reporting a 17.0% increase in net sales to SEK €5.2bn. Operating profit, however, declined by 13% to €195.14m, reports. ICA Sweden, which represents the highest share of sales, saw net sales growth of 5.6% in the first half to €3.8bn. All grocery formats reported growing total and like-for-like sales, while the strongest growth came from hypermarkets, where like-for-like sales increased by 3.5% and supermarkets, where like-for-like sales increased by 3.3%. Click here to read more.

US: Fresh food sales help Target

While Target’s repositioning of its food assortments won’t be complete until next year, expect to see a heavy emphasis on wellness, natural and organic, company officials said Wednesday, reports. “We know we have an opportunity to provide fresh healthy options and more relevant and localized [food] assortment, as our guests are responding to healthy choices we're offering today,” Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, said during a conference call discussing second quarter financial results Wednesday. “Within food, our market share and wellness is already double our food share overall.”

What’s driving Target’s turnaround?
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Rimi Baltic: strong performance in Latvia and Lithuania
Rimi Baltic, which includes ICA’s operations in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, saw sales growth of 10.6% and sales growth to €642.85m, reports. Grocery formats reported growing total and like-for-like sales, with the strongest growth in Latvia, where like-for-like sales increased by 2.5% and Lithuania, where like-for-like sales increased by 2.0%. The retailer also opened eight new stores so far this year, with half of these in Lithuania.

Ahold Q2 net profit up 33% on year
Grocery chain operator Ahold on Thursday reported solid growth in both sales and profit in the second quarter, amid improving economies in the U.S. and the Netherlands and largely in line with analysts' expectations, Reuters reports. Net profit rose 33% from the same quarter a year earlier to €195m, while sales grew 17% to €8.69bn. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a net profit of €199m, and sales of €8.67bn. Ahold, which operates the Stop & Shop and Giant stores in the United States, announced in June it intends to merge with Belgian peer Delhaize.

Botswana: Sefalana sees revenues break BWP3.5bn mark
Botswana-based Sefalana has announced full year results for its 2014/15 financial year, which ran to April, saying that revenues rose 46% to US$338.3m, while profit before tax increased by 23% to US$18.5m, reports. The company said that the results came despite challenging economic conditions in Botswana, which have been affected by growing pressure on shopper and government spending. Echoing other retailers in the region, Sefalana is planning to add stores in both its home market, where it is aiming to open two more to hit its target of 70, and in Namibia.

US: Brookshire Bros. sells 26 Polk c-stores
Brookshire Brothers on Wednesday said it has completed a deal to sell 26 of its Polk Pick-It-Up convenience stores to Partners Investors C-stores. A purchase price was not disclosed, reports. Brookshire said it would retain four Polk Pick-It-Up locations, in Hudson, Central Heights, Central and Wells, Texas, which are near its headquarters in Lufkin, Texas. Brookshire acquired the stores as part of its acquisition of Polk Oil in 2007.

S-Korean Lotte: growth in convenience

In Lotte's domestic market total revenue increased by 2.6% to $US11.3m and operating profit fell by 24% to US$0.49bn, as the retailer felt the economic impact following the outbreak of MERS in the period, reports. Its Hypermarkets' revenue fell by 0.8% in the first half, driven by poor same store sales. In Q2 like-for-like sales dipped to -4.5% as many shoppers avoided public areas during the MERS outbreak. The retailer continues to heavily invest in new store openings and fresh food initiatives. Improved quality and freshness is being delivered through the introduction of 'display time limit' dates and higher standards of inspection. These strategies have boosted fresh sales, which rose 3.1%.

Lotte’ international sales soar in south east Asia
Lotte’s International revenue across all channels increased by 4.4% to $US1.14bn whilst operating profits fell by 1% to $US89.7m, reports. Hypermarkets: like-for-like sales in Q2 grew by 4.4%, with Indonesian stores seeing a 14% rise and Vietnam up 2.1%. However, like-for-like sales in China decreased by 4%, as the retailer continues to struggle for growth in the market.

South Africa's Shoprite to accelerate African expansion
South Africa's Shoprite Holdings, Africa's biggest retailer by sales, will open nearly twice as many stores on the rest of the continent this year as in 2014, its CEO, Whitey Basson, said on Tuesday, reports. Nigeria will get 14 new stores in the next 20 months and Shoprite is building a distribution centre in the country, aiming to move goods faster as imports into Nigeria can be delayed in ports for up to three months or so, Basson said. Angola is the only other market large enough to justify a distribution centre in the next five years, he said. It plans to add another 35 stores this year to the 189 it has in the rest of Africa, hoping to improve on the 16% contribution that Africa ex-South Africa makes to its profits. Last year it opened 20 stores outside South Africa. “It usually takes three to five years for countries to change from pavement shopping to using supermarkets,” Reuters quoted Basson, to have said in a presentation of the company's results.

US: 10 states that spend the most at Walmart

A new analysis by GOBankingRates ranks the ten states in which shoppers spend the most money at Walmart, reports. Oklahoma is number one: Spending at Walmart’s 133 stores in the state added up to $1,622 per Oklahoman. That’s 3.5% of the state’s median household income. South Dakota, with spending of $1,512 per capita, was a close second. It has 16 Walmarts. The birthplace of Walmart, Arkansas, at number three, has the highest concentration of stores: approximately 1 for every 22,500 residents. Its residents also spend the greatest share of their incomes at Walmart. Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee round out the top ten, in that order.

US: National Co+op, UNFI reach new agreement
National Co+op Grocers on Wednesday said it has reached agreement on a multi-year purchasing contract that names United Natural Foods Inc. as its primary distributor for natural and organic products through to at least July 2021, reports.

UK: Marks & Spencer top executive Laura Wade-Gery leaves

The woman in charge of Marks & Spencer's 870 stores across the UK is going on maternity leave, the retail giant has confirmed, reports. Laura Wade-Gery, 50, will begin her leave in September. She has been touted as a possible successor to chief executive Marc Bolland, and is expected to return in January next year.

Judge postpones hearing in A&P, union dispute
The judge in A&P’s bankruptcy case postponed a scheduled hearing Wednesday on proposed amendments to the retailer’s collective bargaining agreements with its union workers, reports. According to a filing, the hearing is adjourned “to a date and time to be determined.”

Retail in Ukraine has fallen by nearly a quarter in 6 months
According to the State Statistics Service, retail trade turnover in January-July 2015 in Ukraine amounted to €22.7bn, which is 23.6% less than the same period in 2014, reports “The retail trade turnover decreased the most in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions - by 82.8% and 70.7% - to €190m and €774m respectively.

RedMart raises US$26.7mil, hires ex-Amazon VP as COO

Singapore-based online grocer and marketplace RedMart announced it has closed a US$26.7 bridge round, bringing its total funding since inception to US$54m, and has hired a former vice president as chief operating officer (COO), reports.

AU: Wesfarmers profit meets analyst estimates amid competition
Wesfarmers Ltd., Australia’s largest retailer, posted annual earnings that matched analyst estimates as discounting and a move to more own-brand goods helped fend off competition from German discount supermarket Aldi, Bloomberg reports. Net income was A$2.44bn ($1.79bn) in the 12 months ended June 30, the Perth, Western Australia-based company said in a regulatory statement Thursday. That’s a fall of 9.3% from the A$2.69bn result a year earlier, and was in line with the A$2.42bn average of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

How Sprouts Farmers market is positioning to grow
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