US: Gelson’s, Smart & Final Bid on 36 soon-to-be-closed Haggen stores
Gelson’s Markets and Smart & Final have submitted bids to purchase a total of 36 soon-to-close Haggen grocery stores, including outlets in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties, Haggen officials announced Monday. According to Haggen, Gelson’s is looking to purchase eight California stores — in Carlsbad, Del Mar, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Beach, San Diego, Rancho Mirage, Santa Monica and Thousand Oaks. Smart & Final has offered to purchase 28 Haggen outlets — 27 in California and one in Las Vegas. The proposed sales are subject to approval by a bankruptcy court. Haggen officials said they are also requesting a hearing later this month to propose bidding procedures for other stores. (

UK: Watchdog investigates Sainsbury’s annual report
The UK’s accounting watchdog has written to Sainsbury’s after the big four grocer failed to disclose income from suppliers in its recent annual report. Following Tesco’s accounting scandal last year, where a £263m hole was discovered in the supermarket’s accounts, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) warned that all retailers must provide investors with sufficient information on their accounting policies. Around one third of the companies whose accounts are reviewed by the watchdog are contacted with questions. An exploratory letter, such as the one sent to Sainsbury’s, is the first step in the FRC’s review process. (

Tesco stays in Slovakia, for now
British retailer Tesco will not sell its premises in central Europe. “At the moment our intention is to hold what we have and to develop it and make the very best of it,” Tesco Chairman John Allan said, as quoted by the Reuters newswire. This concerns the branches in Thailand, Malaysia, central Europe and Ireland. Allan did, however, add the caveat: “I can envisage circumstances under which that might change.” The fact is it is not easy to sell the branches in central Europe. (

US: Albertsons sets price for $1.9B IPO
Albertsons Cos. Inc., which completed its $9.2-billion merger with Safeway Inc. this past January, set pricing for its initial public offering in an SEC filing Friday. The IPO was first announced in July, and will mark the supermarket operator’s first step in exiting years of ownership by a Cerberus Capital Management-led consortium, according to the New York Times. (

US: Walmart cuts 450 jobs from headquarters 
Out of its approximately 18,000 employees, Walmart Stores Inc. laid off 450 workers on Friday at its headquarters in Arkansas. The job cuts are intended to keep its pricing competitive and reduce expenses as it has already invested heavily in its e-commerce business and is paying higher wages. (

US: Ralphs to carry new HemisFares brand of international products in its store
Ralphs Grocery Company is pleased to announce that its stores will carry a new line of corporate brand products, imported directly from the most food-rich regions of the world. Ralphs parent company, The Kroger Co, developed the new brand called HemisFares™. HemisFares is a guided tour of the best-of-the-best tastes the planet has to offer – found exclusively at the Kroger family of stores, including Ralphs stores in Southern California. (

Rabobank report: big data to shake up food retail

With the online grocery channel evolving on a global scale, Rabobank foresees the need for both food retailers and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) producers to significantly reshape their business models. Rabobank believes that, should they stay as they are, many classic food retail business models won’t survive this ‘modern’ age, and both retailers and FMCG producers need to adjust their go-to-market and supply chain tactics to incorporate big data and associated media strategies, if they wish to remain relevant. (Rabobank)

Non-grocery store packaged food purchases rise, nutritional value drops
A new study of food purchase statistics revealed the Americans are buying more of their food from non-grocery stores, and their selections include an increasing number of packaged food purchases, or PFPs, which often have poor nutrient profiles. Researchers said that PFPs are widely available across all types of store they considered for the study, including grocery stores. (

South-Africa: Pick n Pay spotlights 'difficult' environment in trading update

South Africa-based Pick n Pay has published a trading statement saying that operating conditions in its home market remain ‘difficult’ and are set to remain so during the second half of its financial year. Despite this, the retailer said that turnover growth ‘accelerated in the first half of the year… to 8.5% compared to 6.1% in the 2015’. Please, click here to read more. (

Italian supermarket merger creates Coop Alleanza 3.0
A merger of three Italian consumers’ cooperatives has resulted in the forming of Coop Alleanza 3.0 (Alliance Cooperative 3.0), the largest cooperative in Italy. The merging partners are Coop Adriatica, Coop Estense and Coop Consumatori Nordest (Northeast Consumers Cooperative), three of the nine cooperatives that make up Italy’s largest supermarket chain Coop. Their merger brings the supermarket cooperative chain to a total of 2.7 million members, €5bn in turnover, 419 outlets including 56 hypermarkets in 12 regions, and over 22,000 employees. (

US: Sprouts announces 12 new locations
Sprouts Farmers Market announced 12 new locations it expects to open in early 2016. The sites include five in California (Alhambra, Los Angeles and San Clemente in Southern California; Clovis in Central California and Oakland in Northern California); two in Georgia (Atlanta and Marietta); two in Colorado (Colorado Springs and Lakewood); and single units in El Paso, Texas; Franklin, Tenn.; and Lee’s Summit, Mo. (

UK: Ocado to create nearly 2,000 permanent jobs before Christmas

Online supermarket Ocado has launched a major recruitment drive for 1,798 permanent staff to join the team before December, as it prepares to seal a tie-up with an overseas grocer. Ocado has been linked to deals with France’s Carrefour and US group Safeway as part of plans to extend its business by licensing out its technology to foreign supermarkets. (

US: Amid consumer confusion, group pushes to define 'natural'

One in three consumers do not make a quality distinction between the terms “natural” and “organic” and/or government regulation for food products with such labels, according to results of a survey released Monday by the Organic and Natural Health Association, a Washington-based industry trade group. The survey, which also confirmed marketplace confusion about the word “natural,” is a first step towards the trade group’s initiative to set a standard for the term, officials said. (

Walmart Canada to place pickup lockers at select 7-Eleven stores
Walmart Canada and 7-Eleven Canada on Monday announced a strategic partnership whereby Walmart will place “Grab & Go” lockers in six 7-Eleven stores in the greater Toronto area. The service provides customers who shop online at a free shipping option where they can pick up their order at 7-Eleven stores for no cost. (

Famima to exit US
FamilyMart Co., the Tokyo-based retailer that operates eight Famima convenience stores in Southern California, will exit the U.S., according to published reports. Representatives for the chain, which has its U.S. offices in Torrance, Calif., could not be reached for comment. The company opened its first U.S. stores in the Los Angeles area in 2004, operating 12 locations at one point but down to eight earlier this year. According to its website, Famima is “a fresh food paradise,” offering “a premium experience” of “just-made meals and munchies.” (

US: Sysco to supply Kroger prepared foods

Kroger is turning to Sysco to provide foodservice items like sandwiches and salads for the retailer’s in-store delis and commissaries, Sysco announced at its investor day last month. (

US: Whole Foods suppliers defend using prison labor
The food companies that used prison labor to sell products at Whole Foods are defending their programs, saying they provide inmates with new skills and rehabilitation. Whole Foods, under pressure from prison reform advocacy groups protesting the wages earned by those behind bars, announced last week that it will stop offering products made by prisoners next year. (

Canada: watchdog continues probe into Loblaw’s pricing practices
The Competition Bureau isn’t backing down from its investigation into Loblaw Cos. Ltd.’s pricing practices with its suppliers, even though the grocer plans to discontinue the controversial policies. Late last week, The Globe and Mail reported that Loblaw told its suppliers it would scrap those supplier pricing rules, starting Jan. 3, as part of an effort to streamline its operations and smooth relations with vendors. Some suppliers, while pleased with Loblaw’s decision, were concerned that the bureau could wind down its inquiry following the grocer’s latest move without formulating guidelines on the matter, sources said. Loblaw’s practices, such as applying retroactive discounts on orders from vendors in some situations, could lead to higher prices at rival grocers, the bureau has suggested. “The Competition Bureau is aware that Loblaw has notified its suppliers that it will be eliminating certain alleged anti-competitive practices under investigation by the bureau,” Greg Scott, a bureau spokesman, said in an e-mail on Monday. (

The explosion of the online delivery business
According to a Nielsen survey, one-quarter of global respondents say they are already ordering grocery products online for home delivery and more than half are willing to use it in the future. Sales from the online grocery business are expected to jump more than 16% to $13bn this year according to market research firm IBIS World. The growth is being powered by the rise in wireless devices and broadband connections, as well as sophisticated and speedy delivery channels. (

Dutch Albert Heijn supermarket opens without cashiers
Albert Heijn opened a new supermarket without cashiers in Amsterdam on Tuesday. There are no staff members present behind a cash register, the supermarket chain announced. (

IGD: Convenience will be key in grocery market going forward
Convenience will be “decisive in determining the market winners” in grocery going forward, according to Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD. Denney-Finch was speaking at IGD’s The Big Debate, taking place in London today (6 October). Denney-Finch told delegates that convenience is “already more important to shoppers than they consciously realise”, referencing a recent study that found that only 8% of shoppers say that ‘convenience’ is paramount when grocery shopping, compared to 46% that say price, and 44% that say quality. (

Hungary's retail sales growth at 1-year low
Hungary's retail sales grew at the slowest pace in almost a year in August, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office reported Monday. Retail sales climbed 4.7% in August from last year, which was the slowest expansion since last September, when it climbed 4.6%. Sales advanced 6.8% in July and 6.2% in June. Growth in both food and non-food product sales eased in August. Food, drinks, tobacco sales increased 3.7% and that of non-food products advanced 4.6%.(