Retailer News

(Author : Oscar Williams-Grut)
The CEO of Tesco insists the supermarket can be as innovative as the likes of HelloFresh and Amazon, and says it is experimenting with new ideas such as meal kits and checkout-free stores.

Tesco is experimenting with meal kits and checkout-free stores like Amazon

Dave Lewis was peppered with questions about competition with Amazon at a press conference in London this week, following Amazon’s acquisition of US grocer Whole Foods earlier this year. Amazon has also been experimenting with checkout-free stores in the US and plans to launch them out in the UK too. Lewis said that Tesco is also looking at this model.

“We’re trial lots and lots of things — the thing you refer to, yes — but we’ll only talk about it when we’ve done it everywhere,” Lewis said.

“The idea that I would come to the market and say, in this one shop we are — I’ve got 3,600 shops. When we’re at a place where we’ve got something we want to launch to all customers, we’ll launch it and we’ll communicate it. We’ve been doing it for a while. Nothing to announce.”

Business Insider also asked Lewis if he was concerned about the rise of subscription meal boxes such as HelloFresh and Gusto that deliver pre-measured ingredients for recipes.

Lewis said: “There’s no reason we couldn’t put together ingredients and serve it to customers as a meal kit in stores if that’s what they want from us. There are a number of trials in our stores about exactly that so we can change our offer if ultimately that’s how customers want us to operate.”

He added: “We test a whole lot.”

Lewis highlighted the success of Tesco Now, the supermarket’s new one-hour delivery service, as an example of a recent successfully launched innovation.

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(Author : Cate Cadell)
The “Tmall Genie” costs 499 yuan ($73.42), significantly less than western counterparts by Amazon and Google, which range from $120 to $180.

Alibaba Launches Low-Cost Voice Assistant Amid AI Drive

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd launched on Wednesday a cut-price voice assistant speaker, similar to Inc’s “Echo”, its first foray into artificially intelligent home devices. The “Tmall Genie”, named after the company’s e-commerce platform Tmall, costs 499 yuan ($73.42), significantly less than western counterparts by Amazon and Alphabet Inc’s Google, which range from $120 to $180.

These devices are activated by voice commands to perform tasks, such as checking calendars, searching for weather reports, changing music or control smart-home devices, using internet connectivity and artificial intelligence. China’s top tech firms have ambitions to become world leaders in artificial intelligence as companies, including Alibaba and Amazon, increasingly compete for the same markets.

Baidu, China’s top search engine, which has invested in an artificial intelligence lab with the Chinese government, recently launched a device based on its own Siri-like “Duer OS” system. The Tmall Genie is currently programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a recognised user says “Tmall Genie” in Chinese.

In a streamed demonstration on Wednesday, engineers ordered the device to buy and deliver some Coca Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV. The device, which comes in black and white, can also be tasked with purchasing goods from the company’s Tmall platform, a function similar to Amazon’s Echo device.

Alibaba has invested heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalise on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy, increasingly drawing comparisons with similar strategies adopted by Amazon.

It recently began rolling out unstaffed brick-and-motor grocery and coffee shops, using QR codes that users can scan to complete payment on its Alipay app, which has over 450 million users. Amazon launched a similar concept of stores in December.

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(Author : Retail in Asia)
The A.S. Watson Group plans to open 1,400 new outlets globally this year – 60 shops will be in Hong Kong – but it will not expand the electricity group Fortress, says chief operating officer Malina Ngai Man-lin.

Watson group planning new shops

The group doesn’t have a plan for an initial public offering for the moment, Ngai added. Watson plans to invest HK$500 million in the next three years to improve its technology platform as well as enhance big data analysis. Managing director Dominic Ngai Kai-ming said MoneyBack, a member reward program under the Watson Group, has been rebranded with a new mobile app, which allows member to manage their accounts more conveniently.

The scheme has rewarded points with a value equivalent to HK$800 million to their members since the establishment in 2007. Meanwhile, Hong Kong retail sales growth turned positive in May, up 1.8 percent year-on-year, said a Mastercard report.

The increase in grocery sales and the health and beauty sector were the strongest. Groceries were up 2.3 percent and health 5 percent, driven mainly by domestic consumption.

Jewelry sales fell 44 percent in May, which was below the 2013 level. “Discretionary sectors historically driven by tourist spending continue to be a drag, despite stabilization and some recovery in visitor arrivals in recent months,” the group said.
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(Author : Daphne Howland)
Walmart’s latest e-commerce acquisition will be a takeover of menswear site Bonobos for $310 million in cash, a deal that’s been rumored for months, the brick-and-mortar retail giant announced Friday.

Walmart buys Bonobos for $310 million

Unlike many startups, Bonobos, founded in 2007 by co-founders Andy Dunn (who in 2015 returned as CEO) and Brian Spaly (who founded Trunk Club and this year left the concierge service, now owned by Nordstrom) generates a profit and enjoys $150 million in annual sales, raising about $127 million to date from investors including Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Nordstrom.

Dunn will remain to oversee the Walmart’s collection of digitally-native vertical brands, reporting to U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore, according to a Walmart press release. The startup joins online shoe retailer Shoebuy (a challenge to Amazon’s Zappos), online outdoor retailer Moosejaw, and vintage-inspired online women’s apparel seller Modcloth in a string of acquisitions by the brick-and-mortar retail giant under Lore since its $3.3 billion purchase of Lore’s last year.

The payoff from Walmart’s recent acquisitions, starting with Jet, has been swift: In its most recent quarter, Walmart’s e-commerce sales ballooned 63% with an attendant 69% rise in digital gross merchandise volume. But the new numbers that Wal-Mart is delivering in the digital space aren’t just thanks to Jet or its widely heralded pricing algorithm. The brick-and-mortar stalwart, with Jet founder Marc Lore at the helm as its new U.S. e-commerce chief, has also been gobbling up pure-play specialty retailers at a rapid clip.

These new brands help Walmart improve the experience for existing customers and extend its reach to new customers, Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at, told Retail Dive last month. Bonobos in particular has branched into brick and mortar, devising Bonobos Guideshops that provide opportunities to see, feel and try on clothes; Bonobos now has 35 Guideshops across the United States and in 118 Nordstrom stores and on 

“We’re seeing momentum in the business as we expand our value proposition with customers and it’s incredible to see how fast we’re moving,” Lore said in a statement Friday. “Adding innovators like Andy will continue to help us shape the future of Walmart, and the future of retail. I’m thrilled to welcome Andy and the entire Bonobos team. They’ve created an amazing product and customer experience, and that will not change. In fact, Andy will be a great influence on the company, especially in leading our collection of exclusive brands offered online.”

For Dunn’s part, the acquisition is an opportunity to work with a mentor and “become the market leader in all of premium menswear,” Dunn wrote in a blog post. “Marc is the best in the world at building upstart third-party brand e-commerce properties. He and I will now leverage our combined know-how and, with the biggest company in the world behind us, take on creating the leading vertical e-commerce platform.”

Those new customers are in demographic groups that don’t generally frequent Wal-Mart stores; the average Wal-Mart customer is less wealthy and quite a bit older than those typically shopping at Target and Amazon. The company has had difficulty in the past moving beyond that core base.

In addition to more digital sales and an expanded customer base, the startups are providing talent and technology, Keith Anderson, VP of strategy and insights at retail intelligence firm Profitero, told Retail Dive. “They have access to brands, buying teams … they have merchants and software engineers that might not move to Bentonville or Silicon Valley,” he said. “It probably has as much to do with creating a safe landing for companies that didn’t have a path forward as independent entities, but had a nice search authority.”

Indeed, as with Dunn’s planned role at Walmart, Shoebuy CEO ​Mike Sorabella now heads up footwear for all of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce, including and, while Moosejaw CEO Eoin Comerford similarly runs the company’s outdoor e-commerce vertical. That means that brands that may want to sell through Wal-Mart have enhanced opportunities too, with options to sell through one site or another (or more), Jariwala said.

Walmart has made it clear that the brands will continue as standalone sites, and executives from those companies have sought to ensure loyal customers that little will change. And it’s not likely to, Kelly-Jo Sands, EVP of marketing technology at marketing firm Ansira, told Retail Dive. “If you tie [Wal-Mart and Modcloth] too closely together, you might see a fanatic backlash, but you might also see expectations of the prices to come down.”

The new brands are unlikely to take part in some of Lore’s e-commerce solutions. To combat high last-mile delivery costs, for example, Wal-Mart now provides discounts on items bought online but picked up store. While it’s very likely that many Bonobos or Modcloth customers live near a Wal-Mart store, however, offering in-store pick up could invite branding and pricing conundrums for the “always low prices” juggernaut.

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(Author : China Retail News)
Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba and the Internet fresh food platform Yiguo signed an equity transfer contract, under which Alibaba will purchase 18% shares of Lianhua Supermarket from Yiguo.

Alibaba To Acquire 18 Stake In Lianhua Supermarket

According to a report published by Bailian Group, Alibaba will gain 201,528,000 Lianhua domestic shares, making it the second largest shareholder of Lianhua. Meanwhile, Yiguo will still hold a 1.17% stake in Lianhua.

Lianhua Supermarket is a related company of Shanghai Bailian. It was launched in 1991 and it mainly operates hypermarkets, supermarkets, and convenience stores. By December 31, 2016, Lianhua Supermarket and its subsidiaries had a total of 3,618 stores, covering 19 provinces and municipalities in China.

In February 2017, Alibaba Group and Bailian Group announced a strategic cooperation in Shanghai. The two parties said that based on big data and Internet technologies, they would seek full cooperation in six sectors, including full business integration and innovation, new retail technology development, high-efficiency supply chain integration, membership system interoperation, payment and finance interconnection, and logistics system collaboration. However, they did not mention capital cooperation at that time.

Alibaba Group said that they will rebuild new retail smart stores with big data in the future to improve consumer experience and business operation efficiency.

At present, the two parties are discussing specific plans for their supermarket business cooperation. Lianhua Supermarket’s 3,618 stores around China are expected to be the first to have new retail distribution and transformation.

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(Author :
Amazon is buying American supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, the online retail giant announced today. The acquisition is technically happening as part of a merger agreement that will see Amazon will pick up the supermarket’s net debt and purchase its stock at $42 per share.

Amazon is buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

The brick-and-mortar stores will continue to operate under the Whole Foods brand once the deal is complete, which is expected to happen later this year, but is subject to approval by the supermarket’s shareholders.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said in a statement. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Whole Foods will keep its headquarters in Austin, Texas, and the company’s CEO John Mackey will remain in his post. “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” Mackey said in a statement.

Amazon has opened its own brick-and-mortar locations in recent years, including bookstores and a small, experimental market with no cashiers or checkout lines. And while it has been delivering groceries for years under the label of Amazon Fresh, the company hasn’t been shy about wanting to expand those efforts by way of establishing a physical presence across the country. In December, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was exploring ways to open up to 2,000 grocery store locations under its own brand.

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(Author : arabian business)
Majid Al Futtaim says new centre will be able to store more than 400 million units to support retailer’s stores.

Construction starts on new Carrefour distribution hub in Dubai

Majid Al Futtaim has held a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of its new regional Carrefour distribution centre at the National Industries Park in Dubai. With a total storage capacity of over 400 million units to support Carrefour’s brick and mortar stores in addition to the omni-channel business of Carrefour, the company said in a statement.

It added that the multi-temperature storage at the new distribution centre is designed to meet the storage needs of the different food types and dry foods as well as warehousing for non-food goods. Younis Al Mulla, senior vice president – Development and Government Affairs at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said: “The facility is four times the size of Carrefour’s current largest distribution centre building in the region.
“The centre will also feature advanced warehousing, storage and logistics technologies.

The distribution centre is expected to save over 50 percent energy per cubic metre in line with Majid Al Futtaim’s sustainability goals for energy efficiency.” Younis Al Mulla, senior vice president – Development and Government Affairs at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, added: “Quality and choice are key areas on which we focus. Carrefour’s distribution centre in National Industries Park will be equipped with the finest technology, allowing us to meet the growing demand of our customers and process the orders quickly and efficiently.”

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(Author : Jason Del Rey)
Target has finalized an investment in Casper Sleep, pumping $75 million into the fast-growing mattress startup in a funding round that will total $100 million or more, according to a source familiar with the deal.

Target is investing $75 million in mattress startup Casper

Existing Casper investors like Lerer Hippeau Ventures, IVP and NEA are also participating in the round. New investors, in addition to Target, could send the round over $100 million. The investment comes after Target and Casper could not come to terms on an outright acquisition after Target offered to buy the startup for $1 billion.

“Target invested in Casper because we believe in their team, their ideas and their vision for reimagining sleep,” a Target spokesman said in a statement, but declined to confirm the amount invested.

The statement continued: “The strategic partnership offers Casper access to an established retail brand and gives Target an opportunity to work with a future-focused digital brand that is exploring an area that is meaningful for our guests — sleep and wellness. We’re looking forward to exploring the future together.”

Casper, which is known for its foam mattresses that it ships to customers folded up in a box, last raised $55 million at a valuation of around $500 million in the summer of 2015. The startup received a higher valuation with this new investment, though the exact terms could not be learned.

For Target, the investment signals a move to put its money where its mouth is in its attempt to reclaim some of the cool factor that made it a hit among discount retailers for so long through relationships with popular designers and brands. Target is launching more than a dozen of its own brands over the next two years in categories like Home and Kids to appeal to young families.

It’s also partnering with digital-first product makers like Casper — most recently — as well as Bevel, Harry’s and Who What Wear to sell their goods with the hope of driving younger shoppers onto its website and into its stores.

For Casper, the new money gives it the funds to continue to expand into new products and invest in marketing as it tries to become known for more than just mattresses and break away from a pack of competitors like Leesa and Tuft & Needle, which have raised little to no venture capital but are still growing. Industry insiders also expect more traditional mattress companies to enter the “bed in a box” market in the coming year.

While people close to Casper believe the company has its sights on an eventual IPO, it’s unclear whether having Target as an investor would scare off other potential suitors from the retail world along the way.

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(Author : Retail in Asia)
Uniqlo said it plans to take its European store count to 100 outlets over the next three years, in a bid to strengthen its retail presence outside of Asia.

Uniqlo wants to double EU store count by 2020

In doubling its current store number from 50 to 100, the fast-fashion chain will make its first foray into Spain and Italy, according to local media. A planned Barcelona location will mark Uniqlo’s entry into Spain this autumn, while a Milan store will open in Italy, according to a report by the Nikkei Review. The Fast Retailing-owned brand already operates some 50 stores in France, Russia, Germany, the UK and Belgium.

The firm said it would be opening new locations in regional cities in some European countries too, those it is already selling in. This includes regional stores in smaller French cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse. With the store openings in the EU, Uniqlo will be facing stiff competition from two global fast-fashion moguls. Namely Zara, which is operated by Spain’s Inditex, and Sweden’s H&M, both of which have a solid history on the continent and a loyal consumer following.

The Japanese chain told the Nikkei Review that demand for its highly functional basic apparel, however, is strong enough to warrant such fast-paced and vast expansion. This is particularly apparent now, given the Japanese firm’s domestic sales growth has plateaued.

“Overseas operations are what our growth hinges on,” said Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai.

However, Uniqlo is heavily reliant on Asia. Overseas sales came to 655 billion yen in 2016, with China accounting for half of the firm’s fiscal 2016 revenues made in foreign markets. Yanai said Uniqlo is eyeing global sales of 3 trillion yen ($26.6 billion) by the fiscal year ending August 2020. Japanese sales lifted just 3% to around 800 billion yen in fiscal 2016. Meanwhile, the number of stores in Japan has remained steady at around 840 for several years.

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(Author : 
The supermarket’s new marketing boss says she hopes the new ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ campaign will prove Tesco is practicing what it preaches.

Tesco takes ‘inside out’ approach as it looks to shop floor workers for inspiration

Tesco’s chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini says each of its ads are now directly inspired by a shop floor colleague, as it moves to an “inside out” marketing approach. Today (2 May), Tesco launched the ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ campaign. As part of the campaign, Tesco will lower the price of fruit and vegetables; provide ‘Little Swap’ signposts in-store alerting consumers to healthier alternatives; put fresh fruit at checkouts; and launch two new health-minded TV ads as part of its ongoing ‘Food Love Stories’ campaign. The latter will feature recipes from health-minded chef Derek Sarno.

Running through May, the integrated campaign will also see Tesco provide free diabetes risk assessments and blood pressure check-ups in 375 of its large store pharmacies, as well as support 330 Race for Life events across the UK in partnership with Cancer Research UK. Speaking to Marketing Week, Bellini says the campaign is a bid to ensure Tesco’s marketing is more integrated and purpose-driven.

She says: “We have a responsibility as the nation’s largest greengrocer to do more and this campaign is breaking new ground as it is utilising customers, colleagues and communities at the same time.”

Last summer, Tesco introduced its Free Fruit for Kids initiative, something Bellini says was directly inspired by a colleague. This new approach to marketing means shop floor colleagues have an integral say on advertising narratives, much like an agency would.

“Our colleagues inspire us often and, in fact, a lot of the Food Love Stories come from ideas direct from our colleagues,” she explains. “The plan is to get them to inspire all the advertising we do from now on and feel more engaged.

“Ultimately, if your staff truly feel a part of a campaign – and we’re trying to get our staff involved this time around by offering them health checks and free fruit – it helps a campaign truly come to life.”

Over recent months, Tesco has put forward a more purpose-driven marketing strategy. In March, for example, it launched a campaign talking up its battle to reduce food waste.

This latest campaign sees Tesco working with the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK to donate £1 for every mile a Tesco colleague completes as part of the Tesco Million Mile Challenge. Tesco will match each mile with £1, with a total donation goal of £1 million. Bellini insists these moves are not a gimmick and says Tesco has a commitment for the long-term.

She concludes: “We’ve taken out 8,000 tonnes of sugar, fat and salt from our supply chain – so the real aim is to help people make better, healthier choices. We don’t want to force people, but to show them we are practicing what we preach and that the promises you see in the TV campaign are being executed throughout the business.

“It is interesting to build something from the inside out, instead of [the old way] of just telling people what to do.”

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