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Wall Street concerned with The Fresh Market | Woolworths CEO leaves

Tesco sale plan hit by slide in Korean won | Lidl expands in the Balkans

Russia increases pressure on Auchan
Bfm Business reports that Russian authorities have announced that they are currently carrying out a series of controls on Auchan’s Moscow stores, which have already been accused of carrying out multiple infringements of health regulations. Auchan has a large presence in Russia (since 2002) with 88 stores. Health Agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, had already accused Auchan at the start of August of not respecting regulations concerning treatment of food waste, expiry dates and selling mixtures of meat claiming they were minced beef or pork. The retailer has not commented on the latest accusations and would rather wait for the full results of the enquiry. However, they have taken many measures over the last few weeks and say they are “open to all constructive collaboration with the authorities in order to improve the quality of their work”.

Portugal: Jerónimo Martins posts 3.2% rise in profits in H1
Portuguese retailer Jerónimo Martins ended the first half of its financial year with a net profit of €150mn, up 3.2% on the same period last year, while sales grew 9.8% to €6.644mn reports. The group's Polish operations continue to make an important contribution to its results. Biedronka's sales increased 11.7% to €4.499mn, supported by a 2.6% increase in like-for-like (LFL) sales and a store expansion program. In the first six months of the year, it opened 83 stores, of which 68 were net additions.

Lidl top retailer for social network posts in Italy

German discounter Lidl is the top food retailer in Italy in terms of mentions on social media (5,838), according to a study by social media monitoring company Digimind, reports. The study analysed the performances of the top eight players (Lidl Italia, Carrefour Italia, Auchan Italia, Coop, Conad, Esselunga, Eurospin and Sigma), with a particular focus on postings on the six major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Instagram). The result is not a surprise, as Lidl Italia has an aggressive and creative social policy, being the only one with a presence on all the major social networks, resulting in 1.52mn interactions in just over a month. French retailers Carrefour (5.467) and Auchan (2,181) placed second and third, respectively, followed by Coop Italia with 1,560 mentions. Coop, with two accounts, has the most posts (386), followed by Lidl (180) and Carrefour (99). Twitter emerges as the main media type: 56% of mentions consists of tweets, followed by posts to Facebook (22%) and by internet news (12%). Source:

AU: Woolworths blow as Big W boss exits
Woolworths’ senior management ranks have taken yet another hit with the abrupt departure of Big W head Alistair McGeorge, reports. Mr McGeorge, who was appointed managing director of the struggling discount department store chain last June, resigned yesterday for “health reasons”. Woolworths, Big W’s parent group, disclosed yesterday that he had also been the subject of a complaint by his staff.

Ireland: Three Dunnes Stores outlets close in as many weeks

A shadow has been cast over the future of many Dunnes Stores outlets in the north after the Irish retailer announced the closure of three stores in as many weeks, reports. It brings to four the number of Dunnes outlets closed in Northern Ireland this year after the branch in Connswater Shopping Centre in east Belfast shut in February.

UK: Costcutter slips into the red
Costcutter, Britain's second-largest chain of corner shops, has slipped to a pre-tax loss of £25m following "challenges and costs" associated with its takeover of the Mace and Supershop brands, reports. Fierce competition from low-cost rivals also contributed to a drop in sales, but the York-headquartered retailer revealed it expects to turn a profit in 2015. In the year to 27 December 2014, Costcutter recorded a loss before tax of £25m, compared with a profit of £48,000 a year earlier. Turnover reduced from £775.7m to £766.5m over the same period. During the year under review, which is described as being "transformational", the business completed the migration of 830 Mace, Supershop and Your Store outlets from Palmer & Harvey (P&H) to create a 2,600-strong chain.

Lidl trials its first loyalty scheme with Scottish customers
Lidl has begun testing a loyalty scheme in Scotland as the discounter tries to keep up the pace of growth in the face of a fightback by major supermarkets, reports.

US: Wall Street concerned with The Fresh Market results

Wall Street analysts expressed concerns with The Fresh Market a day after the chain reported flat earnings per share and negative comparable-store sales, reports. “Results were even more disappointing than we thought and suggest the company is not moving fast enough to address the challenges of a fast-changing food retail landscape,” Kelly Bania, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, New York, said.

Tesco sale plan hit by slide in Korean won
Tesco boss Dave Lewis’ plans to bolster the supermarket giant’s £22bn debt-ridden balance sheet by selling its South Korean business may fall short of expectations after a slide in the local currency, reports. The grocer will finalise a shortlist of bids for its South Korean supermarket chain Homeplus on Monday, in a deal valued at about £4bn. Reports suggest private equity firms have formed three separate teams, in what is tipped to be Asia’s biggest ever private equity deal. Potential suitors include Asia-based Affinity Equity, who have joined forces with US private equity firm KKR, Carlyle Group, working with Singapore’s GIC, and MBK Partners will seek equity funding from South Korea’s National Pension Service. However, as the Korean won trends at low levels, analysts believe bidders may wait to get a better price, as further weakness in the currency is expected. If the won continues its downward spiral, Tesco could decide not to sell, or even delay the sale, they added.

US: Safeway must pay athlete $9M for use of name
The owner of a supermarket chain must pay Michael Jordan $8.9mn for using his name and promoting a product in an ad without his permission, reports. A jury deliberated for six hours before handing down the verdict Friday night in federal court in Chicago, where Jordan won six NBA titles with the Bulls. Lawyers for Safeway, owner of now-defunct Chicago-based chain Dominick's, said Jordan should be paid $126,900 for the use of his name in a 2009 ad Dominick's placed in a commemorative issue Sports Illustrated published for Jordan's induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But Jordan's lawyers and Jordan himself testified that his endorsement history suggests he would not have taken that deal

US: Instacart coming to Indianapolis
Instacart wants to help schlep groceries in Indianapolis, reports. The fast-growing grocery delivery company, which serves 16 cities, revealed its Hoosier expansion plans in recent tweets that proclaim “Coming soon to Indy!”

Lidl expansion in the Balkans

The Balkans is a key region for both Lidl and its sister company Kaufland in terms of store development, reports. Parent company Schwarz Group has recently received a World Bank loan for €350mn to finance its expansion in Romania, Serbia, Poland, Bulgaria and Croatia, reports. The retailer’s Romanian operations will receive €60mn, enabling it to continue its strong expansion plans in a market where it already operates over 200 Lidl and Kaufland stores. IGD forecasts that Romania will be one of Lidl’s top five fastest growing markets by revenue within the next three years.

Coop Danmark’s new neighbourhood format
Danish market leader Coop Danmark has revealed the launch of a new neighbourhood format, Lille Irma, reports. It will have an emphasis on organic and fresh produce. The retailer plans to open fifteen to twenty of these stores over the next two years in Copenhagen, with the first store opening on Østerbrogade tomorrow.

Interesting links about retail:

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