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Eurelec Trading, the buying alliance between Germany-based Rewe and France-based Leclerc, has appointed a new managing director, Jérémie Vilain. Vilain will take on the role effective August 2019.

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As Italian retailers Pam and Despar focus on expanding, Conad appoints its new general manager and Penny launches a new private label line.

Pam expands through partnerships

From 1 January 2019, Pam will gain 68 stores in northwest Italy. This includes 16 Arimondo stores in the provinces of Genoa, Imperia and Savona, which will be rebranded to Pam, and 52 Borello stores in the province of Turin, which will keep the Borello Supermercati banner.

Andrea Zoratti, managing director of Pam franchising, said, “We are very pleased to have closed these two agreements because they allow us to increase our market share by about 35% in both Liguria and Piedmont. Becoming affiliated with Pam means not only being able to benefit from the competence and reliability of a company that has been active in Italy for 60 years, but also has effective training programmes and a strong and consolidated brand image”.

Pam is looking to maintain its expansion in 2019. The retailer has said it hopes to open new stores in Alassio, Albenga, Albissola, Finalborgo, Genoa, Loano, Rapallo and Sanremo during the year.

Penny launches the MyBio Bellezze Naturali line

Rewe-owned Penny has launched its new MyBio Bellezze Naturali organic range, which will see it add ‘ugly’ fruit which are healthy and natural. The line includes all organic, Italian apples, carrots, tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes and lemons and packages them in biodegradable, compostable materials.

Penny’s managing director, Gotthard Klingan, commented, “We are proud to present the new MyBio Bellezze Naturali line, which is the latest step in a broader approach to sustainability. This latest initiative is a way to influence the fight on waste, while allowing us to guarantee consumers a range of genuine and natural food products”.

The initiative is in line with Conad’s collaboration with the Food Sustainability Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic and Banco Alimentare. The companies have partnered to reduce food waste and distribute surpluses to those living in poverty. The partnership also aims to “promote a culture of nutrition, environmental protection and waste reduction”.

Despar discusses its new strategy

As part of an interview with the general manager for Despar Italy, Lucio Fochesato, in Distribuzione Moderna, he covered the changing shopping patterns in the country and its impact on the retailer’s strategy. According to Fochesato, customers are purchasing more private labels than previously. This change should support its aim to increase the share of sales accounted for by private labels to 25% from 19.3% by 2025. Commenting on the importance of private labels, Fochesato said they are “essential for every distributor, since they also mean customer loyalty”.

The retailer is also focusing on strengthening and renovating its small and medium store formats and franchise network. Despar recently relaunched its site, following a complete redesign. The site aims to bring customers “into contact with the Despar world in the simplest and most immediate way”.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Despar will announce its 2019-2020 strategy at the San Patrignano convention in April 2019. The strategy will focus on quality, safety, innovation, convenience, transparency, simplicity and consistency.

Conad appoints new general manager

Conad has appointed Francesco Avanzini as general manager, replacing Francesco Pugliese. Pugliese will retain his role as managing director. Avanzini has 30 years of experience in the food industry, while he is a director of AgeCore and president of CPR System, a leading Italian cooperative.

We bring you the latest developments from Germany's Rewe Group.

Progress on Rewe 2020

Rewe has been working on its future proof supermarket concept, called Rewe 2020 and starting in 2017, initially trialled seven concept stores. In 2018, a further 45 stores have been converted to the new concept, which includes features such as a sushi bar and food service corner, with ready to eat products.  Rewe has focused on creating a new experience for shoppers and has introduced more natural light into the stores, with glass walls at the entrance. Modern signage and a farmers market style in the produce area help to improve the store environment. Products are grouped into worlds, making the journey round the store more intuitive and convenient for shoppers.

Rewe developing its private label ranges

Rewe has been investing in its private label ranges, developing new products as well as improving its current ranges. It has been increasing the number of SKU's offered, with a particular focus on premium and organic products. This is in response to growing customer demand for more specialist products, with ethically minded shoppers increasingly looking for more organic options. By increasing the number of items in its premium range, Rewe also hopes to drive sales of private label and increase its share of sales.

All chocolate to be Fair Trade

With shoppers becoming more aware and concerned with the origin and sustainability of products, Fair Trade is an area that is attracting more interest. Rewe is responding to this by converting its entire range of chocolate SKU's to Fair Trade products by the end of 2018. Rewe's commitment to Fair Trade has been building for a number of years and it first introduced Fair Trade products in 1993. This latest move highlights its focus on embedding it further.

As Aldi, Lidl and Rewe-owned Penny discuss developments in Italy, we round up news from the discount channel in the country.

Aldi aiming for 45 stores by the end of 2018

In an interview with Distribuzione Moderna, a spokesperson for the retailer has discussed its expansion outlook and medium-term development plans. As of 3 May, Aldi operated 25 stores, which measure 30,000 sq. m of selling space, in Italy, two months after opening its first. By the end of 2018 the retailer has said it aims to operate 45 stores by the end of the year.

As part of its entry into the country, the spokesperson said it took special attention to Italian shoppers’ demands and its culture and the national culinary tradition. As a result, its range is specifically designed for the country, with 75% of its grocery products resulting from a collaboration with Italian suppliers. To upweight its local focus, the spokesperson said Aldi had specially created the ‘Regione che vai’ range, which includes products in many categories. The spokesperson said Aldi Italy ‘does not exclude the possibility of [operating online] in the future’, although without giving any timelines for the potential step.

Lidl continuing to innovate in Italy

As part of a separate interview in Distribuzione Moderna, Lidl Italy’s managing director of real estate development and central services, Emilio Arduino, has discussed the retailer’s recent innovations in the country. Arduino said Lidl developments like the launch of an eco-friendly clothing range for babies, Lupilu Pure Collection, its on-going collaboration with Heidi Klum and expansion of its locally focused ranges, amongst others, had proved popular with shoppers.

Lidl’s focus on local ranges and products is being key for its popularity with shoppers. As such, of the 2,000 SKUs it stocks, 80% are from Italian manufacturers, with 85% of these being private label. Arduino said it exports some €500m worth of Italian products to its operations in other countries.

Arduino stressed the retailer is ‘proud to be a discount store and wants to stay with it’. This commitment will see Lidl continue to optimise its management, simplify processes and ensure it offers the right balance between quality and convenience. In 2018 this will see Lidl invest €350m, which will see it open a similar number of stores as it did in 2017, at 40, updating a further 60 and hire an additional 2,000 people.

Penny to invest €167m across 2018 and 2019

As it looks to strengthen its presence in Italy, versus local competitors and long-standing rivals from its home market, Penny has said it will invest €167m across 2018 and 2019. The investment will be divided between new stores (about €80m), wholesale remodelling of existing stores (about €30m) and the updating of existing sites (about €20m), with the remainder to be spent on new warehouses, a new headquarters and in technology. Penny said it is planning to open 20 new stores in 2018, with a focus on Tuscany, Lombardy, Piedmont and southern Italy.

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