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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.

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As ICA, Colruyt and Migros Switzerland launch new initiatives and Leclerc adds further Relais stores, we look at developments in ecommerce from countries across Europe.

ICA to add prepared food delivery service

Sweden-based ICA has announced from autumn it will enable shoppers to receive express delivery of prepared meal solutions alongside their grocery orders. Initially the service will be made available from about 12 stores in the country and will enable shoppers to receive products within one hour of ordering. During the trial stage, ICA will use electric bikes to make the deliveries, but will ‘experiment with a range of delivery alternatives’ to try to discover what works best.

Commenting on the service, ICA Group’s chief executive, Per Strömberg, said: “Customers want more convenience, and this gives us an opportunity to reach customers who want a fully prepared meal, where ICA previously hasn’t been an option. We are currently conducting a pilot and plan to proceed with a broader launch at the same time that we continue developing the service by looking into various types of delivery and technology opportunities.

Colruyt to trial home delivery in Brussels

Belgium-based Colruyt, meanwhile, has begun a home delivery trial through its Collect&Go online shopping service in the eastern region of Brussels. The retailer said the trial would cover five municipalities: Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Kraainem, Wezembeek-Oppem and Sterrebeek. Colruyt stressed the trial was being launched to help it learn about ‘customer expectations and assessing the feasibility of the service, in order to set up a viable business model.’

The retailer said it had chosen the region ‘specifically because [it] believes there is enough consumer demand here and because of the proximity of our distribution centre in Zaventem’. Colruyt said it would operate the trial until autumn 2019, before it is reviewed. To take advantage of the service shoppers will have to buy goods more than €100 before midnight to receive their purchases the next day. Deliveries will be made using CNG delivery van in two-hour delivery windows between 16.00 and 21.00 on weekdays and on Saturdays from 08.00 to 12.00.

A fee of €9.50 will be charged for home delivery, while the standard fee of €5.50 will remain for the picking of the order. Commenting on the comparatively high fee for the order’s completion and delivery, Colruyt Collect&Go’s Tom Deprater said: “We’ve given the fee for home delivery a lot of thought. We believe that with this realistic fee we can create a feasible business model. The pilot project will show whether it is acceptable to customers and, at the same time, feasible for us. After all, we are shopping for the consumers and delivering it to their front door, which comes with a certain price tag.

Leclerc expands Relais solution as it focuses on last mile profitability

Meanwhile, France-based Leclerc as it and its members look to build a viable solution for the last mile that works for both it and shoppers is investigating opportunities with its Relais pedestrian Drive format. For more on this development, read our news story on one of its newest stores in Paris.

Migros to expand Click & Collect service

Switzerland-based Migros has announced it is to work with Swiss Post to offer a click and collect service at 300 stores. The collaboration will allow people to collect parcels sent through Swiss Post at a Migros store. The new click and collect service will be integrated into Migros’s existing PickMup solution.

Commenting on the new service, the head of PostNetz and a member of Swiss Post’s executive committee, Thomas Baur, said: “Migros, with its dense, nationwide branch network, is an ideal partner for us. We want to be where our customers are and this is what we can do best with this offer.

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ICA released its first quarter results, reporting consolidated net sales increase of 2.8% to SEK28,098m (€2.7bn) and net profit of SEK813m (€77.4m). Sweden and Lithuania continue to be the markets where the group experiences the strongest growth.

Sweden: net sales +2.2%, driven by prices at retail and volumes at wholesale

In its home market, ICA reported consolidated sales of SEK19,793m (€1.9bn). ICA attributes the growth to “price effects but higher wholesale volumes, with a higher share of purchasing by ICA stores, which made a positive contribution”. Easter happening in Q2 had an estimated negative effect of 1.7% on volumes.  

The operating profit excluding items affecting comparability increased by SEK68m (€6.5m) to SEK825m (€78.6) and the operating margin rose by 0.3pts to 4.2%.

Hypermarkets continue to grow faster

Following a strong H2 2018, ICA Maxi hypermarkets continue to experience the strongest growth. Their sales increased by 1.5% to SEK8,661m (€824m) and remain the group’s biggest format.

All formats posted sales increase, with ICA explaining growth was “driven mainly by a larger number of customer visits, while the average spend was down slightly, mainly owing to a lower number of items per customer associated with the calendar effect of Easter weekend”.

One Nara store opened and three closed during the period. ICA revised down its opening plans for 2019 to eight to 10 stores, from 12 to 14 previously.

Strong performance for food and private labels

General grocery and most food categories continue to perform well, including, “fruits & vegetables, frozen products, bakery, salads and prepared foods”. Private label’s share grew by 0.8pts, compared to Q1 2018, to reach 26.8%.

E commerce +34%, grows ahead of the market

E commerce grew by 34% (above market at +19%) to SEK570m (€54.3m) compared with the same period in 2018 with 41% growth in food. ICA continues to invest in digital solutions with a new fast delivery service of meal solutions from shoppers’ local store. It is currently tested in pilot stores and let shoppers choose between delivery or pick-up in store.

Rimi Baltic: net sales +1.8% to €362m, driven by Lithuania.

Net sales increased by 1.8% to €362m during the period, mainly driven by price. Lithuania, where net sales increased by 2.9%, grew above the rest of the market at 2.4%. But the situation was different in Estonia (+1.2%) and Latvia (+1.1%), both growing behind their markets, respectively at 4.6% and 4.3%. In Latvia, net sales are affected by the conversion of the Supernetto stores as part of the one brand strategy, 29 stores out of 44 have been completed.

In 2019, ICA plans to open eight to 10 stores in the Baltics and test e commerce.

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As Axfood reports positive Q1 results and Coop Sverige trials an airport food delivery service in Gothenburg, we look at developments from the country.

Axfood announces ‘strong start to 2019’

Axfood said consolidated net sales rose 4.2% to SEK11.9bn (US$1.3bn) during the first quarter, with like-for-like sales up by 4.0%. The retailer said the results were particularly pleasing given that Q1 2019 did not benefit from ‘a boost from Easter, one of the year’s biggest food holidays’. Axfood said it had ‘recorded a higher number of customer visits to [its] stores as well as [its] sites online’.

The company pointed to the ‘outstanding performance’ at Willys, where it enjoyed ‘significant sales growth, higher market shares and stronger margins’. This was supported by Hemköp ‘growing more than the market, driven by a high pace of growth in its franchise operations’. Axfood said that after the end of the quarter it had signed a cooperation agreement with Östenssons, which will lead to it becoming a Hemköp franchisee from 1 September 2019.

Coop Sverige trials airport delivery service

Coop Sverige is to trial a food delivery service at Gothenburg Airport. The solution will allow shoppers to buy online and collect orders in the airport’s arrivals hall. While Coop maintains the service is a first for Sweden, similar solutions have been trialled globally by the likes of Ahold Delhaize, Australia-based Woolworths and Finland’s S Group.

Discussing the trial, Swedavia’s director of market and commercial development, Charlotte Ljunggren, said: “This service is something that many travellers have requested for in order to avoid getting home to an empty fridge after the trip. Airports are ideal for launching new arrangements with over 19,000 daily travellers who are open to testing new ones.

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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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