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Sweden-based Axfood has revealed its Q2 2019 results, reporting an increase in net sales of 6.7% to SEK13.0 bn (US$1.4 bn). For the three months to 30 June, operating profit also rose by 10.2% to SEK601m (US$64.1m), while net profit totalled SEK429m (US$45.8m).

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Sweden-based ICA has appointed a new chief digital officer (CDO) and new chief strategy and business development officer (CSO). The two positions will spearhead the roll out of ICA’s online and digital strategy.

Anders Bärlund selected as CSO…

Anders Bärlund has been appointed as the new CSO, replacing Liv Forhaug by 30 September 2019. Bärlund will also join the ICA Gruppen Management Team (IMT) and report to CEO, Per Strömberg.

For the last five years, Bärlund has led McKinsey’s work on digital and commercial transformations with retail clients in Asia. In his upcoming role as CSO, Bärlund will lead and develop ICA’s major business strategy projects and drive digitalisation.

…after Jan Prokopec becomes CDO

The appointment of Bärlund follows that of Jan Prokopec, former CEO of Blocket AB, who replaced Peter Muld as CDO in June 2019. Muld was promoted to head of strategy, new business and digital transformation for ICA Sweden.

Prokopec is now responsible for “devising strategies for ICA’s digital development and identifying opportunities between companies in the Group.” He also manages the ICAx innovation hub and artificial intelligence function and reports to Bärlund.

Economies of scale in numerous areas…

Commenting on the appointments, CEO Per Strömberg said, “The Group structure that we have established creates great opportunities for ICA Gruppen to continue developing the offering and create economies of scale in numerous areas.”

…including online and digital

Online was a key driver of growth in 2018 with sales increasing by 42% to SEK 1,729m (€165.8m). ICA will continue to grow and expand its online offering throughout 2019. It also hopes to launch new digital services and implement artificial intelligence to improve efficiency and optimise business processes.

Commenting on ICA’s strategy, CEO Strömberg said, “Our digital agenda is comprehensive and is a common theme throughout our strategy. Our focus areas going forward will of course include continuing to develop our ecommerce offering.” Bärlund and Prokopec will work together to carry out the Group’s digital and online-focused strategic priorities.

We look at how Sweden-based, Axfood-owned Hemköp is rolling out its latest concepts. Meanwhile, Norway-based, Coop Norge-owned Extra has opened its first 24-hour, self-service grocery store in Oslo.

Hemköp: trials new meal concept

Hemköp is trialling a new meal concept, Take Away, in its store in the Mall of Scandinavia. Commenting on the launch, Hemköp’s CEO Thomas Gäreskog said, “Although we have only been running the trial for a short time, it has started very strongly”. The concept, built in a modular system, consists of a large selection of ready meals and is adaptable to varying store sizes and conditions.

The new meal concept provides hot and cold food options prepared by Hemköp’s own chefs. Sushi Daily offers freshly prepared sushi, while Urban Deli carries a wide range of products, including pizzas sold chilled or warmed up.

The concept will also be trialled on a smaller scale in the Odenplan store in Stockholm. Gäreskog added, “We start by testing the different concepts during the year and then maybe we make some adjustments in the spring. The plan is that we will be able to roll it out next year”.

Extra opens 24-hour, self-service store

Coop Norge-owned Extra has opened a 24-hour, self-service grocery store in Bogstadveien, Oslo. The store operates as a self-service store after 23:00, enabling shoppers to verify their identity using the CoopKey app and BankID and checkout using the self-service counter.

To ensure the safety of its customers, Extra has installed cutting-edge technology that can detect abnormal activities and alert authorities if necessary. There are also ‘help buttons’ for customers to use themselves. If the store is successful, Coop Norge will consider rolling out the format more widely.

Commenting on the new store, Christian Hoel, head of Extra, said, “Coop has always been at the forefront of the use of technology in the grocery industry, therefore it is natural for us to test this concept now… We do this so that our customers can act quickly and efficiently when it suits them. Many work shifts, and these will now have the opportunity to shop on their way home”.

Denmark based Salling Group has announced the sale of the 163 Netto stores it operates in Sweden to Coop Sverige. For the Danish retailer it’s a strategic decision to focus investments in other markets, while Coop will strengthen its position as the second largest retailer in Sweden.

The agreement will need to be approved by the Swedish competition authorities, but it is unlikely that it will face many issues.

Salling Group to focus on other markets

The sale of the Swedish business enables Salling Group to step up its investments to roll out the Netto 3.0 concept in Denmark, Germany and Poland. Subscribers can see in-store of the new concept in our store visit.

“We are very pleased with the agreement, which means that we can increase investments in fewer markets and further focus our company on the benefit of customers in Denmark, Poland and Germany” Per Bank, CEO of Salling Group

Salling Group plans to invest more than DKK1bn (€135m) in its Netto stores across its three remaining markets in 2019.

Coop to strengthen its presence in south of Sweden

The deal will lead to the Netto stores being integrated under the Coop supermarkets banner after a transition period. It’s a strategic development for Coop Sverige, which will strengthen its presence in the south of the country.

Currently, most of Coop Sverige’s 650 stores are franchised. The addition of the 163 Netto stores will be an important move for the retailer as it will be in the new position of owning nearly half of the group’s 793 stores.

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