August 31, 2017
John Allan: "Tesco has gone from being a bit of a sinner to being exemplary"
Some encouraging figures of late should not make one forget that Tesco was in crisis mode only three years ago after a balance sheet scandal rocked the retail icon to the very core. Unilever manager Dave Lewis was catapulted in as CEO and chief trouble-shooter, but soon had to announce a massive property write-down as well as one of the largest annual losses in UK corporate history. Among the first events of his tenure was the Tesco Board's appointment of Dixons executive John Allan as Chairman. Since then, the management duo have presided over an impressive turnaround at the UK's largest grocer by sales. An overgrown assortment has been pruned, the vast store base streamlined, and, above all, consumer end prices sharpened. Tesco's latest quarter reveals the strongest growth at home since 2009 and a positive trend for the sixth season in a row. But the market leader with annual net revenues of €57bn is challenged as never before on its own turf by the German discounters and Amazon Fresh. Your call John...
August 17, 2017
Happy first birthday, Ahold Delhaize
It's not every day that two grocers with 280 years of corporate history between them are able to celebrate their first birthday once again. But this is precisely what has happened at Dutch-Belgian retail giant Ahold Delhaize. The first anniversary since the jumbo wedding last summer is also a perfect opportunity for CEO Dick Boer to update us all on the progress made in integrating the two former rivals and their fiercely proud corporate traditions. The union has created one of the world's largest retail groups with 6,500 mainly supermarkets and convenience stores, spanning eleven countries in Europe, the US and S.E. Asia, and pro forma net sales last year just north of €62bn. But since then Lidl has intruded on Ahold Delhaize's patch on the East Coast of America, forcing fellow discounter Aldi into expansion overdrive. Amazon's bid for organics retailer Whole Foods is also a game-changer. This must concern a grocer who sees itself as the largest online food delivery service by sales in the US and the Benelux. So how well does Dick Boer sleep at night?
July 20, 2017
Global trend: Drugstore sales are foaming up
The world's insatiable demand for health & beauty products has made a number of drugstore owners seriously rich. These include Stefano Pessina, CEO of Chicago-based Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), and Li Ka-shing, Chairman of Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings and retail subsidiary A.S. Watson. Both are the largest shareholders in their respective companies and personal billionaires. Götz Werner, Dirk Roßmann and Erwin Müller, the founders of leading German drugstore chains dm, Rossmann and Müller, also rank among the planet's wealthy. But their thriving businesses hardly extend beyond Europe and cannot match the US and Chinese giant in annual sales, store count or global reach. Put in health & beauty terms, they are provincial European belles in a Miss World contest.
July 13, 2017
Future customers: And when you grow up, you too will be able to shop at a German retailer...
For a country with just 1 per cent of the world's population Germany's retailers aren't doing a bad job at selling their wares on the global marketplace. LZ Retailytics data show that eleven retail groups posted record gross revenues totalling €190bn last year in 41 foreign countries on four continents. This whopping sum is around three-and-a-half times more than leading grocer Edeka achieves on its home market. German retailers began their international expansion in the late 1960's and have been gaining momentum ever since. The principal pioneers were Metro Cash & Carry and hard discounters Aldi and Lidl. But who else is conquering the world from Frisco to Sydney?
June 23, 2017
No doubt about it
After years of probing planet food retail, Amazon's flying saucer has finally landed at Whole Foods headquarters in Austin/Texas. The traveller from deepest cyberspace must be serious, otherwise it wouldn't be offering $13.7bn for the privilege of buying the largest organic food retailer in the United States. The thing about flying saucers, of course, is that they can go wherever they want. So how about Germany and Old Europe, dear aliens?
June 9, 2017
Paradise for "fashion-aware" ladies
Carrie Bradshaw and her three girlfriends of Sex and the City fame will love the new Saks OFF 5TH in Dusseldorf. Inner-city, off-price fashion concepts are on a roll here in Germany where the segment is dominated by TK Maxx. Many would love to wear international premium fashion brands, but financial prudence makes most of us wary of anything more than window shopping in swanky shopping malls. The chance to save up to 60 per cent on the recommended retail price is therefore highly seductive. This is especially the case when you can shop on the High Street without having to drive for an hour or two to a designer or village outlet centre. Of course, one has to accept that the product is six to twelve months old and not current season. But as the fashion-conscious seem increasingly ready to make this compromise for the savings involved, we had a little look for you.
June 8, 2017
Mum's the word
Retailer buying alliances are often a hard nut for journalists to chew. Their executives are even more secretive than discounters and inhabit a cloak-and-dagger world that would appeal to Zorro. They only seem to meet behind closed doors or in airport lounges. It is virtually impossible to obtain their photo. You can never phone them directly. If calls are returned at all, it is via their assistants at HQ so that no inference can be made as to their location. If one writes, at best one will receive a few sibylline words within a cryptic email which pose more questions than they answer. Surprisingly, the MD of one buying alliance agreed to connect on LinkedIn, only to delete the connection when asked a question. Given the penchant for secrecy within his peer group, one can only thank Bert Swartsenburg, Managing Director of AMS-Sourcing, for a brief update on the activities of this major European buying group. He weighs his words carefully, but this is a manager who has not forgotten the art of communication.
June 6, 2017
INTERNATIONAL. FASHION. BUSINESS
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June 6, 2017
Heidi Klum: Is this the face that will launch a thousand Lidls?
Not to be outdone by fellow discounter Aldi and Jette Joop, the US subsidiary of Lidl has joined forces with German supermodel Heidi Klum in a new fashion campaign. Lidl US announced today its first ever collaboration with the international fashion icon and designer. Heidi's new collection, which mirrors her characteristic style, will be available exclusively at Lidl and will launch across its network of stores later this year. With her vast expertise and success in the fashion industry, Heidi Klum has carefully designed a high-end, yet affordable fashion collection for Lidl, making the range accessible for everyone. Lidl's customers across Europe and the USA can look forward to seeing Heidi's exclusive collection launch later this year. Klum commented: "Lidl is known for making quality products at affordable prices, and I'm proud to partner with them on this fashion collaboration. I had so much fun designing the pieces in this collection and can't wait for you to see it." Well, neither can we, Heidi...
June 1, 2017
The decision by The Consumer Goods Forum to hold its 61st global summit this year in Berlin from June 20 to 23 is an honour for Germany. It also reflects the size and dynamism of the local market. Yet surprisingly only 25 of this influential trade body's 400 world-wide members, equally divided between retailers, manufacturers, and service providers/industry associations, come from Germany*. However, they number such heavyweights as Metro, Rewe or Henkel, and speakers at this year's venue include the CEOs of local retail giants Edeka and dm. Doubtless, representatives of secretive discounters Aldi, Lidl, and Kaufland will also attend the event, albeit with upturned collars and shaded glasses. But the mere presence of the good, great and beautiful doesn't protect any organisation, however illustrious, from becoming a mere talk shop. So we put Managing Director Peter Freedman through his paces and challenged him on how much progress the forum has made on international issues of vital strategic interest to the trade.