Netherlands: online, categories and HEMA sale

Date : 23 October 2018

We look at the latest online developments from the Netherlands, where Albert Heijn is aligning its online business more closely with bol.com. Albert Heijn and Jumbo are also both investing in category. Albert Heijn is improving transparency in eggs, while Jumbo has revealed a healthier meat assortment and is trialling a new vegan fixture. Elsewhere, HEMA has been sold to investment firm Ramphastos Investments, owned by billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn.

Albert Heijn combines online initiatives with bol.com

Albert Heijn and bol.com have combined efforts to introduce joint online initiatives. The new features aim to create a more “seamless and convenient” online shopping experience.

Customers can now sign into their Albert Heijn and bol.com online accounts with the same details. This allows customers to use one account for purchasing from either site. Albert Heijn and bol.com have also combined their home-delivery subscription services. New subscribers to Albert Heijn’s ‘AH Bezorgbundel’ 12-month delivery service will have access to bol.com’s ‘Select’ delivery service too.

As well as combined accounts and delivery subscriptions, both retailers will offer customers the functionality to perform an Action on the Dutch Google Assistant. Wouter Kolk, Ahold Delhaize CEO Europe and Indonesia, commented, “I’m excited about these joint initiatives, as we continue to create an even better retail ecosystem for our customers”.

Albert Heijn improves transparency in eggs…

In other news, all eggs sold by Albert Heijn now have at least a 1-star Beter Leven quality rating. This means that the chickens live in animal-friendly conditions with fresh air and a greater space to roam around in. Customers can be advised on the ratings instore and from www.check-je-ei.nl/.

Source: Albert Heijn

Marit van Egmond, commercial director of Albert Heijn, commented, “Together with our poultry farmers, we work on quality, taste, sustainability, innovation and improving the chain. This way we can tell our customer exactly which chickens have laid their eggs and which farmer has cared for the animals”.

From November 2018, Albert Heijn will extend its use of blockchain technology already seen in orange juice to its own brand of eggs. This will further help improve transparency in the supply chain of eggs.

…While Jumbo reveals a healthier meat assortment

Elsewhere in the market, Jumbo has reduced the amount of salt in its fresh meat assortment by 20% on average. This equates to approximately 27,000 kilos less salt per year, which is more than industry requirements. By the end of 2019, Jumbo hopes to have reduced the amount of salt in its meat assortment to 1.25 grams per 100 grams.

Products with reduced salt include bratwurst, hamburgers and satay skewers, among others. Jumbo has also replaced artificial flavourings with natural ingredients and made products allergen-free, where possible.

Olaf de Boer, executive director of buying and merchandising at Jumbo, said, “Making our assortment more healthy is very important to us…In our meat we have achieved a good result with the reduction of salt and e-numbers. We have reviewed the entire meat assortment and are now, in cooperation with our suppliers, taking the next steps on the basis of new objectives”.

…And trials vegan fixture…

Meanwhile, as interest in veganism increases, Jumbo follows Albert Heijn’s lead in introducing an instore vegan fixture. From November 2018, Jumbo will trial its own vegan fixture, one to three metres in size. If successful, the retailer plans to roll out the fixture to more stores.

The fixture will comprise a range of brands and will be developed by De Smaakspecialist. The assortment will include gelatine-free sweets, protein substitutes and vegan gravy, among others.

HEMA is bought by Ramphastos Investments

In other news, HEMA, formerly owned by Lion Capital, has been sold to investment firm Ramphastos Investments..

The retailer operates over 700 stores in nine countries. In 2017, the retailer’s sales grew by 3.5% to €1.24bn. However, its net loss and gross debt increased to €31m and €753m respectively.

Lion Capital failed to sell the company in 2010 but restarted its search for a buyer over a year ago. Commenting on the purchase, HEMA said, “With its new owner, HEMA can focus fully in the next few years on online growth, international expansion and improving profitability”.

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