Innovation in Western Europe

Date : 15 October 2019

We round up the latest news from retailers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Finland: Lidl appoints new CEO

Lauri Sippo has stood down as CEO of Lidl Finland, after 20 years at the company. He has been replaced by former operations director, Nicholas Pennanen. 

Pennanen commented, “On behalf of myself and our entire staff, I thank Lauri Sippo for his almost 20 years of excellent work for the company. Under Lauri’s leadership, Lidl has grown and evolved significantly and has created a good, inspiring and innovative atmosphere for the company. It is great to continue to grow with our highly skilled staff”.

Netherlands: Picnic to expand throughout the country

Elsewhere, Online grocery retailer Picnic is rolling out its service. The retailer will expand in the province of Limburg, offering its service to shoppers in Brunssum, Heerlen, Landgraaf, Venlo and Voerendaal. To accommodate the expansion, Picnic has opened a distribution centre near Heerlen. It is also searching for local entrepreneurs to collaborate with. 

Last year Picnic launched in Germany, where it is now operating in most of the Ruhr area. The retailer has recently announced that it plans to expand in the Northern provinces soon.

Sweden: Picard to revamp stores and expand

French frozen food retailer Picard has announced it will renovate all its nine stores in Sweden according to its new store concept. The first stores, on Götgatan and Karlavägen in Stockholm, are expected to be converted before Christmas 2019. The remaining seven stores will follow by the end of 2020.

The new concept features new wood flooring, standing freezers, digital shelf labels and in-store seating, helping to create a more premium feel. After the stores are fully renovated, Picard plans to open two or three new stores in Stockholm. The first store is expected to open by Q3 2020. Owner Knut Faremo commented, “We have looked at many premises already and we have a couple of really good ones going. But we are also very picky with the places”.

Belgium: Louis Delhaize to close Match and Smatch stores

In Belgium, Louis Delhaize has announced it will close seven Match and nine Smatch stores, resulting in 210 job losses, after reporting a €22m (US$24.3m) loss in 2018. The Match stores affected by the closures are in Dinant, Erquelinnes, Eupen, Jodoigne, Moustier-sur-Sambre, Nivelles and Spa. The Smatch stores to close are in Deinze, Ertvelde, Ingelmunster, Jupille, Koksijde, Merchtem, Ougrée, Waarschoot and Zomergem.

Alongside the store closures, Louis Delhaize will invest €40m (US$44.3m) into store renovations, local, fresh and organic products and differentiation between both brands. The retailer will also explore online ordering and home delivery options.

CEO Stéphane de Rango commented, “In an ever more complex market, marked by a general fall in consumption and an increase in competition, courageous and ambitious measures have to be taken to guarantee the survival of both brands in the middle and long term.”

Belgium: Colruyt rolls out reusable bags nationwide

Meanwhile, Colruyt has rolled out reusable bags for fruit and vegetables across the country. The decision follows a successful trial conducted in 51 Bio-Planet stores. The retailer aims to replace all single-use plastic bags with an alternative that can be reused up to a hundred times.

As part of the initiative, all Xtra shoppers will receive five bags for free when they purchase fruit and vegetables in any Colruyt Lowest Prices, Spar Colruyt Group, OKay and OKay Compact stores. The offer will run until 1 January 2020 and will be accompanied by a campaign focusing on the benefits of reusable bags.

Colruyt has also committed itself to removing all single-use plastic bags in all 579 food stores on 2 January 2020. Christophe Dehandschutter, sales director and manager of the project, commented, “Although we are fully prepared for replacing plastic bags, we have decided to make the final transition after the busy end-of-year period.” The retailer expects to eradicate 150 million plastic bags annually.

Denmark: Coop launches initiative to help suppliers

In other news, Coop Danmark’s subsidiary, Coop Crowdfunding, has launched a scheme to help Danish food suppliers grow. Together with non-profit business association CONNECT Denmark, the scheme will see Coop offer business development, procurement and marketing advice. It is aimed at small and medium-sized food producers based in Denmark.

Commenting on the partnership, Coop Amba, owner of Coop Crowdfunding and Coop Denmark, said, “We want to be number one in the development of new food companies to create renewal in our industry and to secure new and better groceries for our customers.”