Metro opens new convenience store chain in Ukraine

According to a specialised website, Metro Group has opened the first two stores of a new Ukranian chain of convenience stores last December, in order to increase sales to small-scale wholesale companies, which currently account for 40% of the group's joint turnover.

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E.Leclerc goes for multichannel glory

French chain E.Leclerc is planning to expand its “Drive” shops (where customers can collect the food products they ordered online) both in number and offer. The group hopes to open over 350 new Drives in the next four years, raising their turnover from 405 million to 1.5 billion euro.

Drive stores already cause 30% of growth

The cooperative group of hypermarkets and supermarkets from Brittany is in the winning mood, as its market share rose to 17.7% and the ever decreasing share of market leader Carrefour, 21%, comes within reach. Chairman Michel-Edouard Leclerc now aims at becoming the number one himself within the next two years. 


E.Leclerc owes one third of its growth to its Drive stores, already representing 1.4% of the group's revenue (405 million euro for the Drives alone) - despite having only 3,500 product references (only food), compared to the 25,000 in the group's hypermarkets. Currently there are over 100 Drives, but Leclerc aims to have 144 Drives by the end of this year, 250  at the end of 2012 and 400 by 2015. Their revenue should rise from the 405 million now  to 730 million next year – and even 1.5 billion by 2015.

Expanding to culture and multimedia

In the French business newspaper Les Echos, Michel-Edouard Leclerc also stated that the current model for ordering food products online will be used for the group's complete multichannel strategy. Leclerc hopes to launch a webshop where customers can also order cultural products (books, CDs and DVDs) and multimedia products. If the expansion proves successful, more products could be added to the webshop.


Current Leclerc stores will in turn be remodelled into “Leclerc Villages”. “We will have village squares where shopping is a pleasure and where each consumption theme has more diversity to offer”, says Leclerc. That sounds pretty much like Carrefour's Planet concept, but “both our webshop and our Villages will always have to live up to the group's baseline promise: the lowest prices”.

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Tesco joins The Sustainability Consortium

Tesco, the biggest British supermarket chain, has joined The Sustainability Consortium (TSC). In doing so, Tesco follows Marks & Spencer to become the second leading British retailing member of this organisation, that aims to drive innovation in consumer product sustainability.


The Sustainable Consumption Institute, a part of the University of Manchester financed by Tesco, has joined the Consortium as an academic member. This Institute researches ways to help households, businesses, governments, charities and NGOs move to more environmentally sustainable living. Tesco is the first high-profile retailer to join TSC since the consortium opened its European headquarters in The Hague early November.

First Wal-Mart, now Tesco, who's next?

The Sustainability Consortium is originally a Wal-Mart initiative, as the world's biggest retailer wanted a sustainability index on a product level. In 2009, two American universities founded the consortium as an independent institute, heavily funded by Wal-Mart. Later on, the Dutch Wageningen Universiteit & Research centre became the European academic partner for TSC.


Now Tesco joined the consortium, TSC expects that others will follow: “An important player like Tesco joining the consortium is a huge step forward. We are talking with several important parties, but thus far, there is no other news to report. Just like Tesco, new members want to announce news like this themselves”, says Koen Boone, executive director for TSC in Europe. “What we can say however, is that we do expect other prominent European retailers to join as well.”

Director for Climate change

Tesco makes no secret of its efforts to make operations more sustainable. The retailer has even appointed a 'director climate change' in Helen Fleming. “Successful collaboration between leading global businesses – whether they are retailers, wholesalers, suppliers or producers – will go a long way in helping companies reduce their carbon emissions and thereby reduce the carbon footprints of the products we sell”, she says. “We’re proud to be a member of The Consortium and look forward to collaborating with the many other businesses and organizations.”


Bonnie Nixon, executive director of TSC, is happy to see his consortium becoming a truly worldwide organisation with Tesco joining its ranks. “Their expertise and leadership in both the retail and sustainability community will be a great asset as we work towards delivering the science and tools to drive a new generation of sustainable products.”

TesCO2 or green-washing?

Tesco's sustainability policy focuses on CO2 reduction, to the extent that Tesco has changed its name to “TesCO2” in some stores. The British market leader wants to be completely carbon neutral by 2050 and has started to monitor the complete carbon footprint of over 1,100 products. Moreover, several of its supermarkets in the UK, Thailand and the Czech Republic already have a zero emission of carbon dioxide.


Certain critics however doubt the nature of Tesco's attempts to reduce CO2 emissions: they claim these attempts are mostly “token gestures” and clear examples of 'green-washing'.

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Knight Vinke wants Olofsson out and Carrefour split, unions protest

Lars Olofsson

American investment fund Knight Vinke has launched a personal attack on Carrefour CEO Lars Olofsson, who currently also holds the position of chairman of the board of directors. The Americans say Olofsson is responsible for the “débâcle” of the last few years and want the company to be generally split in two – to which the unions object fiercely.

Five profit warnings in one year

The Americans, representing 1.5% of all Carrefour's shares, demand Olofsson's resignation and the installation of two separate CEOs: one for Europe and one for Asia and America. In a letter in French newspaper Le Monde, Eric Vinke claims that Olofsson is “not independent enough” and that he is responsible for the terrible state the world's second largest distributor is in.


The French group has known some difficult times of late, including five profit warnings in one year, a number of musical chairs sessions at the top and – most important for Vinke – a 45% drop in shares since January.

Start of a complete spin-off?

The European Workers Committee has protested heavily against Vinke's proposals: they think a structure with two CEOs implies a will to break the Carrefour group in two. Representatives of all Carrefour trade unions, meeting in Bucharest, fear a split into a (stagnating) European branch and an 'emerging markets' branch might put European jobs at risk. Their opinion is that Carrefour now needs stability and a clear focus on the Planet format, the plan to revamp the decaying European hypermarkets.

Knight Vinke earlier lead a (successful) rebellion against Carrefour's plans to sell its property branch. In this battle, Vinke and the unions fought side by side. Carrefour refused to comment on this new attack on its strategies and its chairman and CEO.


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Albert Heijn opens second Belgian store later this month

Dutch retail chain Albert Heijn will open its second Belgian store in Stabroek on October 26th.RetailDetail had already announced the location in March (link in Dutch): like the first Belgian AH in Brasschaat, the new one is owned by Nathalie and Marco Van Ende.


Just like Brasschaat, Stabroek is located between Antwerp and the Dutch border, an area where many Dutch people have settled. The new store resides in an almost completely renovated complex that also holds 20 flats and retail space for chains like Hubo, Zeeman and Standaard Boekhandel. Albert Heijn started its international operation in Belgium in March, with a move to Germany set to follow in 2012. The first Belgium store attracted a lot of attention from the media, but local competitors say many customers have already returned to their normal stores for their shopping.

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Tesco leaves Japan after fairly disappointing results

Tesco, the world's third largest distributor, published very mixed semi-annual results yesterday. The British chain managed to grow during the last six months, but feels the constraints of the economic crisis – especially in its home market Britain.

Double figure sales rise in Europe and Asia

Tesco's total turnover increased by 8.8% to 35.5 billion pounds (45 billion euro), especially especially because of excellent results in Europe (excluding the UK: +12.4%) and Asia (+11.7%). The British stores saw turnover rise by only 0.5%, but the total British turnover rose +7.1% if new stores are also included.

The chain's profit rose nicely to 1.9 billion pounds (2.4 billion euro, +12.1%), causing CEO Philip Clarke to be “pleased that excellent growth in Europe and Asia, as well as an encouraging performance in the US, has supported further progress in the first half, despite the challenges of subdued demand in the UK, particularly in non-food categories”. Two thirds of the group's profits still come from the UK, although the other markets grow considerably faster in terms of profit (UK: +4.5%, Europe +11.8%, Asia +18.7%, US +23.2%).

Leaving Japan, expanding online

Still, not everyone at Tesco is completely happy with the results and the company promised to “invest in price and promotions, ranging, service and store environment” and bring “substantial changes to our core UK business to sharpen competitiveness”. One of those investments (although not in the UK) was announced yesterday: the expansion of a webshop for Tesco's clothing brand F&F to 21 European countries.

Still, the most important news was that Tesco would be exiting the Japanese market, after “having decided we cannot build a sufficiently scalable business there”. The group now has 5630 stores left, half of which (2865) are in the UK and 21% (1172) are in the rest of Europe: the Czech Republic (215), Hungary (209), Poland (383), Slovakia (103), Turkey (131) and Ireland (131).

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