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A first store for The Food Warehouse in Northern Ireland

Photo credit: /// Article source: Retail Gazette

The Food Warehouse has entered Northern Ireland for the first time with the opening of a flagship in County Antrim that has created 30 new jobs.

Located in Longwood Retail Park, Newtownabbey, parent company Iceland invested close to £1 million for the new 9500sq ft store.

It is also the 121st store opened in The Food Warehouse’s six-year history.

The Newtownabbey store will continue The Food Warehouse’s mission to offer shoppers a wholesale grocery store without the need for membership, in an open plan, easy-to-shop environment.

“Since the first door opened back in 2014, The Food Warehouse has grown from strength to strength, exceeding our expectation,” Iceland managing director Richard Walker said.

“Moving into Northern Ireland is a huge landmark for the business, as it continues to perform extremely well.

“We’re proud to work with local suppliers in Northern Ireland across our fresh, frozen and grocery products.”

Fresh, frozen and ambient food deals are available across more than 3000 product lines in each Food Warehouse store, as well as “When it’s Gone, it’s Gone” deals and homeware items.

“It’s incredibly important to innovate and understand what their customers want, which is how The Food Warehouse came to be,” Walker said.

“As the future of the high street remains uncertain and more and more bricks-and-mortar stores lie empty, there’s a responsibility to the government, but also retailer, to rethink how they operate in the increasingly competitive grocery retail sector.”

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Boom in China’s convenience stores

Boom in China’s convenience stores

Convenience stores are spreading quickly across China. Sales reached over US$28 billion in 2017 – an increase of 23%. There are now around 100,000 convenience outlets across the country, making it the sector’s fastest growing retail model. In contrast with previous trends, many of these chains are now supplying imported and premium food products. Customers are attracted to convenience products, including ready-prepared fresh fruits and vegetables, which they perceive to be fresher and healthier than the goods traditionally sold in convenience stores.

The main convenience store operators are 7-11, You Ke, Ke Hao, and Mini Shop. Around 40% of these chains run their own online platforms. While this channel accounted for only 8% of sales in 2017, it is certain to grow.

Compared with other retail models, convenience store operators rely on local distributors for stocking and logistical services. This means that exporters to China need to work with local distributors rather than convenience store purchasing managers. Convenience store operators are currently looking for products for their private label goods. Food ingredient exporters and others are encouraged to consider attending the annual China Convenience Store Convention organised by China Chain Store & Franchise Association ( This convention is an ideal platform to make direct connections with key convenience store operators and distributors.

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Carrefour now has 70 convenience stores in Brazil

Located in the upmarket district of Brooklin in Brazilian capital Sao Paulo, the new outlet is of the Carrefour Express format.

Carrefour opened its 70th convenience store in Brazil on December 29.

Located in the upmarket district of Brooklin in Brazilian capital Sao Paulo, the new outlet is of the Carrefour Express format.

The French multinational retailer said in a press release the opening reinforces its investment “in a sector that offers customers improved levels of flexibility and comfort in shopping, focusing on a daily range of fresh and ready-to-consume items.”

It said its Express brand is the group’s response to growing customer demand for smaller purchases at stores located in close proximity to home or the workplace.


You may also like to read: Carrefour expands convenience format in Shanghai
Read more articles about Carrefour.

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Fresh produce sales on the rise in top Polish convenience chain

Zabka Polska, the leading convenience store chain in Poland, now boasts fresh produce sales worth the equivalent of more than US$ 150 million.

Zabka Polska, the leading convenience store chain in Poland, now boasts fresh produce sales worth the equivalent of more than US$ 150 million In the last two years, its turnover from fresh fruit and vegetables has risen about 3-4% compared to in 2012/13.

And 2015 was a particularly good year, with Zabka’s fresh produce sales rising 6.2% on 2014 despite the Russian food embargo.

Its sales of apples, for example, increased by 4,000 tons, a gain of 15% on the previous year. And the chain expects to end 2016 having rung up 2-3% more in fruit and vegetable sales.

“Citrus sales in 2015 have also increased but not in all the categories. Tangerines and oranges were up 0.4% and banana sales improved by 1.5% but the sale of other exotic fruit fell about 0.8%,” said Zabka press secretary Anna Jarzebowska-Kwiatek.

Since 2013, Zabka has been on a quality improvement drive and now avoids lower quality fruit. All fruit arriving at its depots is carefully inspected, Jarzebowska-Kwiatek said.

Founded 18 years ago, today Zabka operates in almost every part of Poland – from small towns to big cities. Polish consumers now have a Zabka outlet on almost every street corner so they visit these shops more often than bigger supermarkets, which are located further away.

By the end of December, it will have launched 417 new stores in 2016, bringing its total number of outlets to almost 3,600.

“Next year we plan to maintain the same rate of openings, however everything will depend on the current economic and political situation,“ Jarzebowska-Kwiatek said.

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China’s love affair with online shopping and convenience stores

Nielsen research shows the lure of cheaper goods online is seeing more and more Chinese embrace ecommerce — particularly via smartphones. This trend and the increasing popularity of convenience stores are together eroding the market share of superstores and supermarkets and making them evolve.

The penetration rate of convenience stores and online shopping in China has jumped to 32% and 38% respectively from last year’s 19% and 35%, according to a Nielsen report.

The global performance management company says in terms of sales and penetration, superstores and supermarkets are losing their market share to convenience stores and online platforms, as more and more people, especially the young, prefer to use these two emerging channels, which are more convenient.

According to Nielsen China vice president Rachel Ma, Chinese consumers used to shop mainly at hyper/supermarkets when stocking up on household basics. But fewer do that now, preferring to get what they need at convenience stores or online, she said.

“Generally speaking, consumers are purchasing less at brick and mortar stores – basket sizes have decreased,” she said.

Price increasingly important to online sales

The main factors driving Chinese consumers to choose online shopping are cheaper prices, the ease of price comparison and delivery service.

Indeed, almost seventy percent (68%) of respondents go online shopping when there are sales. And the lure of cheaper goods was cited by nearly two-thirds of those surveyed by Nielsen as the reason they buy things online, up considerably from 42% last year.

And more than half of the respondents — up from just 15% the previous year — said they prefer online shopping platforms because they make it easier to compare prices.

Another 54% of respondents said they shop online because of the delivery service, up from 42% last year.

Nielsen says sales and promotion are still effective ways to also attract consumers and that online shopping platforms have been ramping up their promotional efforts of late. The penetration of shopping festivals is up to 95% and along with the mushrooming of shopping festivals and various kinds of promotions, the price war is among various ecommerce platforms is becoming fiercer.

It also warns that competition is getting fiercer among online shopping platforms due to product homogeneity, requiring companies to differentiate themselves and build competitive advantages.

Convenience makes mobile e-commerce king 

One of the most interesting changes to note is that in the last year, the mobile has overtaken the PC as China’s most popular device for online shopping. According to Nielsen, 81% of online shoppers use smartphones while just 59% use desktops and 57% use laptops. The overriding reason for the popularity of mobile shopping is convenience — 71% consumers say they find mobile devices more convenient than PCs. What’s more, 52% of the respondents said they prefer mobile devices because of the convenience of mobile payments, a rise of 10% year-over-year.

According to the China Electronic Commerce Information Center, the number of Chinese online payment users had reached 416 million by December 2015 — an increase of 112 million, or 36.8% — since the end of 2014. And mobile payment usage also soared last year, with the number of users reaching 358 million, an increase of 64.5%. The percentage of netizens who use mobile payments increased from 39.0% to 57.7%.

Superstores must offer pleasant shopping, attractive promotions

Nielsen research shows the penetration rate of hypermarkets and supermarkets did increase slightly in 2015, by two and one percentage points respectively, to reach 78% and 82%, and the frequency of visits by customers remains stable. However, the average shopping basket value fell from 172.4 RMB in 2014 to 162.7 RMB.

The fact that the sales and penetration growth rates for convenience stores and online shopping are outpacing those of traditional superstores and supermarkets is forcing the latter to transform so as to better meet consumers’ changing needs. They also have to adapt to the fact that the rise of online platforms has helped clue up consumers. These increasingly savvy shoppers are paying closer attention to promotions and how pleasant their shopping experiences are in store. Nielsen says the latter this can be harnessed by such stores to competitive advantage.

Friendly service, a wide selection of products, convenient location, an organised assortment and clean environment are the other factors which most influence superstore and supermarket shoppers.

Underlining the importance of location and brand image, 19% of the respondents said they had visited newly opened hyper/supermarkets in the past six months and convenient location (55%) and a good reputation (46%) are the main reasons they go to a new market.

“Therefore, hyper/supermarkets should focus on promoting brand image, interesting promotional activities to retain customers. In addition to that, opening new stores and exploring online platforms to attract new consumers are also important,” Nielsen said.



Image: By Mcy jerry at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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Convenience and quality in Belarus

Rublevskiy operates more than 70 convenience stores in Belarus

“Our company operates through 70 Rublevskiy brand stores”, said Tatiana Petrashkevich, head of the import department.

“The first store was opened 15 years ago in Minsk, and since then we have continued to develop the convenience store format, opening new shops in Minsk and in other Belarusian cities”.

The retailer offers fresh products and other fast moving goods to local residents, based on good quality and reasonable price. “The price/quality ratio has become the hottest issue recently due to the difficult economic situation,” Petrashkevich said. “That is why we are optimising all our work processes.”

More direct imports As a result, the retailer tends to import directly from producers, skipping the intermediaries.

“We have already begun to import fruit and vegetables from the producers of Poland and Turkey; now, when the stone fruit season begins we hope to find partners in Spain. That is why we are glad to participate in the Fruit Forum in Barcelona organized by PRODECA (the organisation promoting products from Catalonia).”

Rublevskiy is a socially-oriented retailer: the company offers special loyalty programs for retired people and participates in sponsorship programmes for non-commercial organisations. The retailer has a staff of over 4,000 employees.



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SPAR Portugal hits 100-store mark

Ten years after opening its first store, SPAR Portugal has reached the 100-store mark. To achieve this fantastic milestone, the business opened four stores in one day in April 2016.

Within a decade of opening its first store, SPAR Portugal has reached the 100-store milestone, helping the feat along by opened four stores in one day in April this year.

And Spar says it has ongoing plans for expansion in the country, with warehouse expansion currently in progress to support it.

In a press release, SPAR Portugal said its goal is to develop a network of SPAR supermarkets throughout Portugal’s mainland and islands.

“SPAR has been able to expand into new cities and regions over the past few years by working with independent retailers keen to partner with SPAR Portugal, thereby enabling them to offer a retail brand which their customers recognise. The majority of stores are located in the popular tourist destinations of Lisbon, the Algarve, Madeira and the Azores, with a presence also seen in key mainland markets.”

It also said a major development has been the investment in company owned stores. This  initiative started in 2014 and there are now 19 company owned stores operating in Portugal which “act as flagships for the SPAR Brand and for independent retailer recruitment and the trialling of new SPAR products.”

SPAR Portugal has acquired an additional 12 AliSuper stores, all located in the Algarve which are being converted to the SPAR Neighborhood format. “The stores in the Algarve will concentrate on the tourist market with strong ranges of imported and seasonal products. By expanding the number of company-owned SPAR Supermarkets, there is greatly increased brand visibility in this growing market,” SPAR said.

“Attention is also being given to developing new concepts such as Treehouse© Juice Bars, SPAR Cafés, and an extended Food-to-Go offer.”

Improving warehouse capabilities

To meet the requirements of the rapidly expanding business, SPAR Portugal now has a new 6,000m2 warehouse in Alverca Lisbon, “which resulted in an immediate improvement in operational processes and enabled continuous growth” and will help the business “continue to grow in store numbers and assortment.”

Future development plans include the installation of a centralised chilled operations system for the warehouse, as well as the establishment of a regional warehouse on the Azores, which is currently being planned with the SPAR International team, it said.

Source: SPAR International

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Musgrave wins store design awards

Ireland’s Musgrave Group recently won the A.R.E. gold design award for Best Supermarket, for its flagship SuperValu store, in Blackrock, Dublin, and another for Best Convenience Store, for its Centra store in O’Connell Street, Limerick.

New store concepts for its SuperValu and Centra banners have seen Ireland’s Musgrave Group bag two prestigious design awards.

At GlobalShop 2016 – held in Las Vegas in March and billed as the world’s largest annual retail design show – the retail group walked away with the A.R.E. (Association for Retail Environments) gold design award for Best Supermarket, for its flagship SuperValu store, in Blackrock, Dublin, and another for Best Convenience Store, for its Centra store in O’Connell Street, Limerick.

In a press release, Musgrave said the awards recognise the very best in international retail design, “so we were up against some serious contenders on the global stage.”

“The SuperValu and Centra projects complemented the conference’s big focus on customer experience design and what it means for retail.

“The store concepts were acknowledged for responding to the new food trends on the rise, improving the in-store experience and truly differentiating themselves from competitors.

“Our SuperValu ‘Food Festival’ concept was recognised for celebrating the shared joy of food, with the renewed energy that champions quality, people, local and freshness,” it said.

SuperValu store in Blackrock, Dublin

According to design consultancy Household, among the features of the SuperValu store in Blackrock is the juice bar in the fruit and vegetable section, which it described as “another standout service experience where customers pick their own produce to be blended in-store.”

Household said Centra has shifted from ‘convenience store’ to ‘convenient eating destination’ with the new format store in Limerick.

“Centra had successfully held its own through the recession in Ireland, but as the economy improved the brand wanted to rethink its high-convenience (or ‘Hi-C’) format stores. Centra needed to compete for the new customer who has more money to spend and is interested in healthy living,” it said.

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Carrefour to keep up brisk rate of convenience store openings

Carrefour reports Increase in net sales: €76.9bn, +3.0% on an organic basis.

“Carrefour is consolidating its position as a multi-format international retailer and in 2016 will continue to open convenience stores at a swift pace in all countries.” That’s one of the key points the retailer lists in a section on the outlook for this year in recently published documents on its results for 2015.

Of its 1,123 store openings last year, 850 were convenience stores. As at the end of 2015, it had a total of 12,296 stores under its banners around the world and 7,181 of them were convenience stores.

Carrefour also says it has “with strong ambitions for its multiformat model” and is “accelerating its digital transformation as it pursues its omnichannel ambition.”


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The new face of grocery retail in Spain

There has been a boom in proximity retailing and urban stores in Spain, with various Spanish and foreign retailers opening stores on busy shopping streets in city centres, generally with lower amounts of retail selling space. Examples include Condis Express, Carrefour Market and Supercor Expres.

Spain is slowly recovering, but its five years of economic recession have left a lasting impact on its retail sector and consumer behavior. Shoppers are now more price-conscious and retailers have had to adapt to the increasing importance of convenient locations and the incipient threat from low-cost retail formats.Those are among the observations in a new USDA GAIN report on opportunities for US exporters in Spain’s retail food market.

Consumer confidence

The report says Spain is expected to continue to show positive signs of recovery, with a return to pre-crisis retail sales figures likely by 2019. “This situation will likely be reflected in consumers gradually increasing their expenditure again, so opportunities will continue to arise for U.S. exporters,” it says. In the retailing industry, some operators have started to see slow positive growth for the first time in several years, especially in grocery.

Shopping habits

GAIN says that, according to Euromonitor, another effect of the economic crisis is consumers are now reluctant to travel to hypermarkets and big shopping malls on city outskirts, due to the cost and inconvenience. “As a result, the future of many of the large retail centers built during the good days of the Spanish economy are compromised.”

There has thus been a move to proximity retailing and urban stores, with various Spanish and foreign retailers opening stores on busy shopping streets in city centres, generally with lower amounts of retail selling space. Examples include Condis Express, Carrefour Market and Supercor Expres.

Product trends

Spanish consumers are also increasingly health conscious, GAIN says, noting that naturally healthy and free-from products are more widely available in supermarkets and specialty stores. “One of the most interesting and promising categories are healthy products indicated for food intolerances. According to Euromonitor, in 2014, food intolerance products sales grew 27% in value to reach $306 million.

Online sales in Spain

Online retailing is steadily increasing (+7% in value in 2014) and expected to continue to be prosperous in the medium term, as more store-based companies move to online commerce.

Its top internet retailers are focusing on building trust among their collective consumer base. According to Euromonitor, the reasons consumers give for shopping online are:

  • Convenience 78%
  • Better prices and offers 73%
  • To save time 66%
  • Easy purchase process 56%

However, mobile retailing is outperforming internet retailing overall in Spain, where smartphone penetration is estimated at around 80%, one of the highest rates in the EU.

Table 2. Grocery Retailers Company Shares (% Value)

Source: GAIN report SP1542, Spain, Retail Foods Annual 2015