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IGD was invited to Ahold Delhaize’s Capital Markets Day in New York, where we heard directly from the retailer’s Management Board on its ‘Leading Together’ strategy. We also saw first-hand how it is ‘reimagining the Stop & Shop’ brand in Connecticut.

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We complete our review of the trends from the Central and Eastern Europe: outlook for 2018 presentation with the third and final trend;  Retailers trialing digital solutions.

Retailers test in-store retail innovations and invest in online

Retailers across the CEE are investing in digital retail solutions and develop presence in the online channel or optimise in-store operations.

Lidl opened an IT hub in Romania in March 2018, another office to coordinate international online tests and support development of websites and apps. Currently, Lidl in CEE operates online only in the Czech Republic selling non-grocery products. The discounter is testing e-commerce in Poland with, a site that sells alcoholic drinks with a Click and Collect service.


Auchan is investing in digitalising its operations and stores in CEE as part of its Vision 2025 strategy. Auchan Romania rolled out its Click and Collect service across all Bucharest stores in July 2018. It also launched an online service in the food service sector,, earlier in the year. On this site shoppers can order fresh cooked food, and have it delivered home or in the office. Carrefour rolled out in Romania a similar concept along with an app,

Source: Auchan Romania, Carrefour Romania

Zabka Poland presented its vision for a 'store of the future' concept in September 2018 which was developed in partnership with over 10 companies that includes Microsoft. It contains solutions that streamline the shopping process and optimise in-store operations, such as a system that helps to adjust prices and assortment in each store to local shoppers. It also uses digital signage and intelligent shelves to inform staff of out-of-date products.


Mega Image Romania follows a similar trend as Zabka with a ‘smart’ store. It developed the concept in partnership with Vodafone Romania, which installed nine retail innovations in-store. These include ‘smart sensors’ to track shoppers’ in-store movement and observe their most used shop paths. Other innovations automate on-shelf stock monitoring, display personalised promotions on digital signage, and reducing payment process with a queue management system.

X5 is installing retail solutions in Perekrestok to optimise in-store operations. These include automation of replenishment, ‘smart’ planogramming, and intelligent labelling to track food storage conditions.

Magnit is investing in the ‘digital transformation’ of its business. One such investment is the roll out of a repair request system. Staff will be able to log faulty equipment using mobile phones by scanning barcodes, which help specify the unit and issue. This system is designed to allow for a quick turnaround in repairs, while allowing staff to focus on customer services.

Source: Magnit Russia

Trends in 2019

Discounters will continue to be more flexible in terms of store size to open stores in residential areas and city centres. All retailers will continue to enhance their food-to-go and food-for-now offers to create shopping destinations. They will look to widen their organic assortment and local ranges to improve shopper perception of the quality on offer and increase choice in healthy eating ranges. In 2019 more retailers will pilot in-store digital retail solutions to drive engagement.

Subscribers can access the full Central and Eastern Europe: outlook for 2018 presentation

Ahold Delhaize has reported its 2018 Q3 results, with net sales increasing by 3.6% at constant exchange rates to €15.8bn. Net income also increased by 26.7% at constant exchange rates to €459m.

USA: +3.2% to €9.6bn

In the USA, net sales increased by 3.2% at constant exchange rates to €9.6bn, while comparable sales (excluding gas) increased by 3%.

…partially impacted by Hurricane Florence

It is estimated that Hurricane Florence had a 0.5% impact on comparable sales growth, resulting in an adjusted growth of 2.5%. Hurricane Florence also partly offset the underlying operating margin in the country. However, this still increased by 0.2% versus the same period last year, partly driven by improved promotional efficiency.

Highlights: Stop & Shop and Food Lion remodels, meat processing and online

During this period Stop & Shop implemented the first phase of its repositioning strategy by remodelling its stores in Hartford, Connecticut.

Food Lion continued to roll out its ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable’ strategy to a total of 712 out of 1,029 stores. The latest phase of the rollout included 168 stores in Virginia’s Norfolk and greater Roanoke. The banner also expanded its ‘Food Lion To-Go’ collection service in North Carolina and Virginia.

The retailer’s Retail Business Services division has also announced plans to build a 200,000 sq. m meat processing facility. The project will account for over US$100m of investment and create over 700 jobs in Rhode Island.

Elsewhere, online sales in the country rose by 11.8% at constant exchange rates to €185m. This was partially attributed to Peapod as it experienced improving sales trends.

As Peapod appoints Selma Postma as president…

In related news, Peapod has appointed Selma Postma as its president, effective 1 January 2019.

Postma previously served as general manager of Albert Heijn Online where she helped “to accelerate online sales to more than 20% annually”. Her leadership helped the company evolve into a omnichannel retailer, with a press release highlighting the optimization of, as well as the Appie mobile app and other solutions.

Peapod is “confident her expertise will accelerate the ecommerce experience for Peapod customers and continue to grow sales”.

Netherlands: growth of 5.8% to €3.5bn

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, net sales increased by 5.8% to €3.5bn, while comparable sales increased by 5.9%.

Highlights: checkout free stores, blockchain and online

Albert Heijn to go opened its first checkout free stores, allowing customers to pay at the shelves and avoid waiting in line. The retailer has also used blockchain technology to improve transparency.

Source: Ahold Delhaize and Albert Heijn saw positive growth with net consumer online sales increasing by 33.2%. The two online websites also offered a streamlined service by combining online initiatives.

Belgium: growth of 1% to €1.3bn

In neighbouring Belgium, net sales increased by 1.0% to €1.3bn, while comparable sales increased by 0.6%. Online sales increased by 18% during this period too.

Highlights: Nutri-Score food label and store remodelling

Delhaize introduced the Nutri-Score food label to help customers understand nutritional information more easily. The retailer hopes to introduce the label to all private label products within two years. Delhaize also remodelled five of its stores to a new concept, which includes the ‘Fresh Atelier’ food-to-go concept.

Source: IGD Research

In Central and Southeastern Europe, net sales increased by 3% at constant exchange rates to €1.5bn. The retailer attributed this to comparable sales growth of 0.6% and the addition of 123 stores, most of which were convenience stores. Romania and the Czech Republic also reported strong growth.

In the Czech Republic, a new urban supermarket concept was developed featuring fresh, healthy foods and an easy shopping experience.

…while Greek performance remained negative

Meanwhile at a regional level, sales were impacted by Greece’s negative comparable sales performance. However, sales trends did improve compared with Q2 2018.

CEO Frans Muller: “strength of our great local brands

Frans Muller, CEO of Ahold Delhaize, commented, “We are pleased with these results, demonstrating the strength of our great local brands, which is underpinned by their leading market positions. We are proud of the strong engagement of our 370,000 associates serving local communities and especially those that were affected by natural disasters”.

Following the article where we looked at the first two trends shaping Central and Eastern Europe’s grocery retail market, we are going to review the next two trends - Build trust with organic and local ranges and Healthy living, healthy eating focus.

Build trust with organic and local ranges

Retailers look to build shopper trust in private label by investing their ranges. They are adding and expanding organic and local produce that shoppers perceive to be of higher quality.

Kaufland Slovakia launched a local private label range ‘Z lásky k tradícii’ (From love to tradition) in June 2018, following the launch of the range 'Vreau din România' (I want from Romania) in Romania in November 2017.

Source: Kaufland Slovakia

Lidl aims to bring more local varieties of fruits and vegetables to store. It collaborates with domestic fruits and vegetables suppliers in Romania, Hungary and Croatia.

Russia’s top three retailers, X5, Lenta, and Magnit, are adding more local fresh food in stores located in the eastern regions.

Promotion of organic food consumption is part of Carrefour's marketing campaign ‘Act for Food’ in Europe. The retailer is promoting the ‘Carrefour Bio’ line with its ‘Healthy Shelf’ initiative at a 10% discount. It is also supporting Polish food suppliers in obtaining an organic food certification.

Source: Carrefour Poland

Healthy living, healthy eating focus

Healthy foods are becoming a more common feature in CEE grocery retail. Retailers are adding or expanding health-focused ranges, they have expanded free-from ranges and reduced additives from products. New marketing campaigns are often used to promote such assortments.

Kaufland Poland launched a healthy food aisle, ‘Aleje Zdrowia’ (Health Aisle). The aisle has been already rolled out in 30 out of over 211 stores with more installations in the pipeline. In Romania, the retailer introduced the ‘ABC for a full life’ campaign to inform and encourage shoppers about healthy eating and lifestyle. It promotes the campaign online, in promotional leaflets, and on billboards.


Lidl Croatia added its organic private label ‘Lidl Bio’ to the range in line with the rest of the discounter’s European operations. It is also expanding the free-from gluten and lactose ranges, and meat-free alternatives (vegetarian and vegan).

Slovenia’s Mercator launched its gluten-free line Free Zone that offers a mix of confectionery products in over 140 stores. It also runs a marketing campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina to promote its organic range Bio Zone.

Source: Lidl Croatia, Mercator Slovenia

Carrefour Poland launched the Système d'Étiquetage Nutritionnel Simplifié (SENS) in May 2018. This system of labelling promotes healthier eating by showing shoppers the dietary value of a product. It uses triangles with various colours and sizes that includes nutritional content of each product and advises on frequency of consumption.

Source: Carrefour Poland

What Next?

Look out for part three of our Central and Eastern Europe: outlook for 2018 revisited piece that will look at the final trend – Retailers trial digital solutions.

Subscribers can access the full Central and Eastern Europe: outlook for 2018 presentation


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Key presentation

Central and Eastern Europe is a region that illustrates great potential for growth for both domestic or international retailers. The region also presents opportunity for grocery suppliers to widen their product range and in turn their customer base.

IGD was exclusively invited to visit Netto Poland’s latest store concept that includes a focus on mission-based categories and healthy eating.

We've developed a single, universal methodology for calculating food and consumer goods retail data, supported by our programme of primary and secondary research. This makes Retail Analysis the most reliable and robust source available for data of this type. 

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