Ahold’s new fresh format; ‘BFRESH’


Ahold’s new new foodie-focused small store in Boston’s Allston neighborhood, going under the new banner, bfresh, is expected to open shortly, SN has learned.

The store, developed by the Fresh Formats team that also built Philadelphia’s Everything Fresh, presents itself as a solution for neighborhood shoppers — particularly young people — frustrated by compromises on quality, price and convenience at typical food stores.

SN first reported that Ahold was opening the store in April. The new unit will be larger than its 3,000-square-foot Philadelphia sister and reside at the site of a former Staples store near bars and restaurants in Allston Village.

Ahold has so far declined comment on the new concept, but social media postings including Twitter, Facebook and a website describe the store as designed so as to eliminate “tradeoffs” that other stores present



Walmart leads 2015 Top 25 Global Retailers.


A shifting focus toward smaller retail formats and the strong U.S. dollar influenced Planet Retail’s list of the Top 25 Global Retailers, on which Walmart, Costco and Carrefour took the top three spots, respectively.

The ranking is based on 2015 sales in U.S. dollars, which Planet Retail has forecast for the year while taking into account historic performance, store opening projections (which are reflected in store counts provided) and an estimated comparable store growth rate.

With a projected $527.8 billion in sales, Wal-Mart Stores bests all other international retailers by a wide margin, according to Planet Retail.

“Walmart remains by far the leading player but will not rest on its laurels,” noted Robert Gregory, head of advisory for London-based Planet Retail. “In fact, there are a number of key strategic initiatives it is pursuing at home and abroad.”

These include restoring performance in some faltering international markets and focusing on e-commerce around the world.

“Walmart was initially slow to embrace e-commerce, but is making up ground fast with global e-commerce sales growing at more than 20% per annum,” Gregory said.

While the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has online operations in most countries in which it operates, its key markets for digital sales are the U.S., U.K., Brazil and China, according to Gregory. Walmart considers Asda in the U.K. and Yihaodian in China to be best-in-class for e-commerce, he said.

No. 2 retailer, Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp., with a projected $127.9 billion in sales, has about 70% of its 687 outlets in the U.S., according to Gregory who said it is scheduled to open 24 new stores by fiscal year 2015.

“While the growth of ancillary businesses and an expanded service offering should boost domestic sales, international club expansion will drive new member growth, which will propel a stronger bottom line,” he said. “The first store in France is scheduled for 2016, following on from entry into Spain in 2014.”

French retailer Carrefour is No. 3, with $119.8 billion in sales when converted to U.S. dollars, and 12,965 outlets.

Gregory noted that despite increasing sales in their local currency, many European and Japanese retailers declined their ranking on the list due to currency exchange rates to the U.S. dollar.

Kroger, with $116.4 billion in sales and 3,750 stores takes the No. 4 spot, followed by Tesco.

The U.K.-based retailer is coming off a “nightmare year, rocked by leadership changes, the accountancy scandal, negative like-for-like sales and a record loss,” according to Gregory. “Further disposals are likely [such as Dunnhumby] and international markets such as South Korea, as it looks to rebuild its balance sheet and generate funds to invest in the U.K.”

While the outlook for Tesco and its 7,990 stores isn’t all doom and gloom, it still has a fair amount of challenges ahead.

“Tesco is currently on a journey and recent trading has actually improved and it is actually performing stronger than rivals such as Walmart’s Asda,” added Gregory. “However, it will be a long journey and with like-for-likes at its hypermarkets continuing to decline and with store openings being scaled back, Tesco is likely to fall further down the global ranking in the coming years.”

7-Eleven parent Seven & I, is the No. 6 retailer with $101.4 billion in sales across 38,009 outlets which include its retail banners and its nonfood offerings such as department stores.

U.S. invasion

It’s followed in the ranking by Lidl parent, Schwarz Group, with $99.7 billion in sales. Earlier this summer, Lidl confirmed plans to expand beyond Europe for the first time, to the U.S., but these stores are not expected to open in the near-term and therefore did not factor into Planet Retail’s projections. Schwarz Group has also announced market entries in Serbia (Kaufland, Lidl) and Lithuania (Lidl), according to Gregory.

With $96.2 billion in sales, U.S.-based Walgreens Boots Alliance is ranked No. 8. Its position was boosted by Walgreen’s acquisition of the remaining 55% of Alliance Boots that it did not own, to form the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise and the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world.

Japanese retailer Aeon is No. 9 on the list with $92.1 billion in sales and 19,171 total outlets. And rounding out the top 10 is Aldi, which, according to Gregory, is among the retailers who’ve slipped down the ranking due to an unfavorable EUR-to-USD exchange rate.

Aldi’s expansion plans include new stores in a range of markets including some in Western and Southern Australia and West Coast and Southern California stores in the U.S. In addition to acquiring the Bottom Dollar chain from Delhaize, it hopes to more than double its stores in the U.K. by 2022, according to Gregory.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp., No. 11 on the list, “will accelerate small-box and urban expansion, via TargetExpress and to a lesser extent CityTarget,” said Gregory. “After having opened its first TargetExpress location last summer in its home market of Minneapolis, Target is set to open eight additional locations in 2015, more than half of its total planned store openings for the year.”

With $79.9 billion in sales, France-based Auchan is the 12th ranked retailer, followed by Metro Group (No. 13) with $77.9 billion in sales.

No. 14 on the list, CVS, with $70.5 billion in sales and 7,923 stores will continue to expand organically as well as benefit from the store-within-a-store concept that will result from its purchase of Target’s 1,660 in-store pharmacies and 80 in-store clinics, Gregory said.

“A clear trend amongst all players on the ranking is the shifting focus towards smaller formats,” he told SN. “Even the likes of Walmart are trying to decrease the proportion of sales from big-box stores as they look to embrace smaller formats, such as Walmart to Go and Walmart on Campus.

“In addition, investing in stores to make them a more integral part of the online shopping experience has become a priority with all leading players introducing click and collect facilities across their store networks. Clearly, this will be part of their attempts to reinvent the weak performing big-box stores, as well as measures such as improved service, greater use of in-store technology and trying to cater to the mobile shopper in the stores.”

Other notable retailers on the list include No. 19 Albertsons, with $56.8 billion in sales, whose ranking was boosted as a result of its merger with Safeway, and No. 22 Ahold, whose $46.7 billion sales projection does not include its forthcoming merger with Delhaize, according to Gregory.

Ahold set to launch ‘game-changing’ magazine


Ahold USA said Tuesday it is launching a free magazine and digital content platform called Savory — Fast, Fresh and Easy, designed to help customers prepare more fresh and healthy meals.

During a presentation to vendors in Chicago Tuesday night, Jan van Dam, Ahold USA’s EVP, marketing, format, own brands, supply chain and ecommerce, said Savory offers “a 360-degree meals platform that will deliver something the channel has not seen before. It’s virtual meets physical, and we think it will be game-changing for Ahold, our customers and our vendors. We believe we can make this as big as we want to make it.”

The format of the magazine is based on Allehande, a magazine Ahold-owned Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands has been publishing for more than 30 years, Shirley Axe, one of the magazine’s editors, told SN Tuesday evening.

Allehande means “a little bit of everything” in Dutch, Axe pointed out, while Savory “refers to the idea that the recipes and meals offered in the publication “will make readers’ mouths water,” she explained.

The first edition will be available in all formats beginning June 14.

The first edition will be available in all formats beginning June 14.

The first edition will be available in stores, online and via smartphone and tablet devices, beginning June 14, the company said.

Axe said the company plans to issue the magazine four times this year — in August, October and November after next week’s first edition — but six times a year beginning in 2016.

In a press release, Amy Hahn, SVP, marketing, said, “Savory was designed to help make every day a little fresher, a little easier and a little more delicious for our busy customers. It is a go-to guide with recipes and meal solutions that will help customers save time, save money, and eat well.”

The first issue is a 120-page, full-color publication highlighting grilling favorites and recipes for summer meals. The company said regular features will include budget-friendly meals; recipes to cook once and eat twice; meals that can be made in 15 minutes; recipes for meals that cost $10 per meal; new twists on old favorites; questions and answers with a nutritionist, and a “Take 5” feature that offers five ingredients for a fast meal.

Items used in recipes will be tied to store promotions, with products tagged to make it easier to find, the company said.

The magazine will be displayed in shippers at the entrance to the chain’s stores and also in the magazine aisle, Axe said. Customers will also be able to access it through the websites of each of the chain’s banners or by downloading a free app that will be available upon launch for Apple, Android, Kindle and Windows devices.

Axe said the company intends to add a cooking app in the near future that will allow consumers to watch up to 48 videos per issue demonstrating step-by-step how to make the meal, with the ability to stop the video whenever they want during the preparation process. Recipes in the print edition will indicate if they have a video attached, she pointed out.

Future issues, like the first one, will also feature 120 pages, Axe said — “part of the value equation for customers,” she explained — with 80 pages of content and 40 pages of ads, “and if we don’t sell enough ads, we’ll fill those pages with content,” she added.

Ahold is selling ads to CPG companies, and a third party is selling external ads to local businesses surrounding each of the company’s four divisions, including medical facilities, insurance companies and car dealerships, Axe said.

Stop & Shop introduces international line.


Stop & Shop has introduced World Menu, a private label line of internationally inspired foods.

The 50-item line features Italian and Asian selections, including Chicken Basil Spring Rolls and Gnocchi Sorrentina, described as Italian potato dumplings “nestled in a rich tomato basil sauce and topped with mild mozzarella cheese for a quick meal that’s hearty and satisfying.”

Most of the items are sold in the frozen department, although the brand is represented in other departments as well.

A spokeswoman for Stop & Shop, an Ahold USA division based in Quincy, Mass., was unavailable for comment.

The line is being promoted with a $1 printable coupon:


Ahold tests virtual supermarket


Ahold USA embraces a virtual shopping simulation tool that provides marketing and merchandising concept tests without store disruption, said Ed Sheedy, director of category management insights.

“We’re able to manage tests more effectively in a controlled environment,” Sheedy said in a presentation Wednesday at the Shopper Marketing Conference & Expo in Minneapolis.

The Internet-based 3D interactive tool from InContext Solutions lets retailers and manufacturers visualize a concept without dedicating the manual time and labor of physically setting it up.

Ahold's Ed Sheedy

Ahold’s Ed Sheedy

The tool creates 3D images and videos to communicate store changes, like planogram changes and resets.

Users can view the entire store, down to individual items seen from all angles.

The technology includes heat mapping of products sets to find the most productive layouts.

Sheedy admits he was was reluctant to idea at first.

“But then I started to see the potential of what we could do with a virtual supermarket,” he said.

The application can be used across a number of operational areas, including store planning, advertising, and category management and merchandising, he said.

Ahold recently partnered with Kellogg to test the tool with cereal bars, fruit snacks and Kellogg’s other “wholesome snacks.”

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