EUROPE

Switzerland’s Migros Zurich takes over German supermarket Tegut

Starting in January, Migros Zurich, one of the Swiss market leader's co-operatives, will acquire the supermarket business of German group tegut. This chain introduced organic food almost 30 years ago and the decision was ridiculed at first but now accounts for a quarter of turnover. Tegut was founded in 1947 in Fulda, has around 290 stores and 6300 employees and in 2011 generated sales of EUR 1.17 billion. Stores are primarily located in Hessen, Thuringia, and northern Bavaria.

Migros Zurich said it sees that with its long-term commitment, tegut’s profile can be strengthened and the company can grow, characterized by the two groups common understanding of ecology, economy, sustainability and society. The financially strong Migros sees the new partnership a long-term commitment and will spend “two-digit” millions in upgrading and expanding tegut and investing in its branch network. Tegut’s headquarters will remain in Fulda as well as the wholesale business under the management of Thomas Gutberlet.

Migros, the largest retailer in Switzerland, operates 550 Super-Consumer markets with a workforce of 83,000 employees and counts over 2 million cooperative members. In 2011 Migros achieved cooperative retail sales of 21 billion Swiss francs. In August 2012 Migros Zurich opened in conjunction with the German organic chain Alnatura, the first outlet under this name in Switzerland.

USA

Record year for Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market (WFM) reported results for the 13-week fourth quarter ended September 30, 2012 with sales up 24% to $2.9 billion, while comparable store sales increased 8.5%. “We ended the year with strong sales growth and record fourth quarter results, delivering the best year in our company's 32-year history,” said John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of WFM. “The pace of new store openings and lease signings continues to increase, and our accelerated growth plans are on track. We expect healthy comparable store sales growth and continuing operating margin improvement in fiscal year 2013.” The company currently has 342 stores totaling approximately 13.0 million square feet. WFM recently announced plans to purchase six leases from Johnnie's Foodmaster, expanding its presence in the Greater Boston area to 26 stores.

For the full year ended September 30, 2012, sales increased 16% to $11.7 billion. Comparable store sales were up 8.7%, while net income increased 36% to $465.6 million.

Natural Grocers on track for 70 stores

Denver-based natural and organic grocery chain Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NGVC) announced its full year results in November with net sales showing increase of 27.2% to $336.4 million due to an increase of $41.3 million in sales from new stores and an 11.6% increase in comparable store sales. Comparable store transaction count increased 7.0% year over year.

Gross profit increased 28.0% to $99.1 million. Gross margin increased to 29.4% from 29.3%, with product margin staying relatively flat. The increase in gross margin is due to a decrease in occupancy costs as a percentage of sales at comparable stores. Comparable store sales increased 13.0% for the fourth quarter.

As of September 30, 2012, the company had 59 stores located in 12 states and plans to open 12 stores in fiscal year 2013 and expects to remodel three existing stores. On October 30, 2012, the company opened a store in Missoula, MT and has signed six new store leases.

UK

Sainsbury’s, M&S turnaround with sales lifts

The UK’s 3rd biggest food retailer J Sainsbury plc has continued to deliver strong sales over the last 12 months and reported total sales for second quarter(16 weeks to 29 September 2012) up 4.3 per cent (4.4 per cent excluding fuel) and a profit increase to £405 million before tax.

Chief executive Justin King said: "This has been a unique and special summer, during which we have delivered another quarter of good sales, outperforming the market in what remains a challenging retail environment. Our total sales are up 4.3 per cent, and like-for-like sales up 1.9 per cent.

"We are seeing the benefit of our ongoing investment in our own-label ranges, particularly by Sainsbury's, which is growing at its strongest rate in recent years, and our Taste The Difference range, which is seeing near double-digit growth. Our own label penetration is increasing at a faster rate than any of the major supermarkets; a testament to the investment we have made in the quality of our products.

Over the quarter Sainsbury grew space in line with its plans, opening five supermarkets, 28 convenience stores and two extensions, adding 267,000 square feet to its estate. At the recent UK Retail Industry Awards, Sainsbury’s won Supermarket of the Year for the fifth time in seven years, Convenience Store of the Year for the third year in a row, and a further three awards.

At more upmarket retailer Marks & Spencer, half-year results were announced for the 26 weeks ended 29 September, 2012, with group sales up 0.9% at £4.7bn and underlying profit before tax of £297m. Food sales lifted by 1.0% to 3.9% and like-for-like food sales grew by 1.1% to1.6% for the quarter.

Marc Bolland, chief executive, said: “We are pleased to report a better performance across the business in the second quarter. We took steps to address the short term merchandising issues in General Merchandise and as a result, we delivered an improved performance. Food outperformed the market on a like-for-like basis.”

M&S is introducing 1,000 new lines and is on target to refresh 25% of its food range each year.

While Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are the top 4 UK grocers, upmarket grocer Waitrose (6th in grocery sales), part of the John Lewis Partnership, is seen in the trade as being at the top end of the food and beverage market.

Mark Williamson, Waitrose commercial director, said for week ending 17th November, total sales at Waitrose were up by 7.9 per cent as savvy shoppers stocked up on festive goodies early to help spread the cost of Christmas and ensure they were well prepared. Half-year sales at Waitrose, reported in July, were up 6.6% to £2.8bn pounds, with like-for-like sales up 2.2% (excluding petrol).

FRANCE, LATIN AMERICA

Casino improves France sales, strong boost from South America

French retailer Groupe Casino reported strong growth in sales at €11.8 billion (+35.2%), driven by International, which benefited from the full consolidation of Brazil retailer GPA. International now makes up 60.4% of the Group’s operations.

Sustained growth was up in Q3 over Q2 2012: +4.2% (vs. +3.4% in Q2 2012). The International division posted a very good performance (+8.8%) in sequential acceleration over Q2 2012 (+7.7%). In Latin America, same-store sales showed steady growth of +7.5%, reflecting especially GPA’s good performance.

In France, business is resilient (+0.2%), boosted by the excellent performance of Cdiscount (+22.8%) and by the improved trends on convenience and discount formats.

Excluding petrol and calendar effect, organic growth in sales in Casino Supermarket banners was up +3.5%. The banner has kept up its strategy of excellence in fresh goods and rollout of local products labelled ‘Le Meilleur d’ici (the Best from Here), as well as highlighting its own private label, whose performance over the quarter was satisfactory. Total sales grew +3.1%. Same-store sales were down -1.7%.

At Monoprix banners, sales rose +1.4% on an organic basis excluding the calendar effect. In a difficult market, the clothing, drugstore and beauty corners posted good performance in September. Online food sales also recorded very strong growth. Same-store growth was +0.2%, in line with Q2 (+0.5%). Monoprix opened seven stores over the period. Franprix-Leader Price banners posted stable sales on an organic basis, excluding the calendar effect, an improvement over the previous quarter (-1.3%).

In Brazil, GPA posted same-store sales up +8.1% with same-store sales for GPA Food were up +6.8%, driven by the success of the new Assaí cash & carry format which shows excellent performance. Minimercado Extra proximity stores benefited from the latest effects of the conversion of Extra Facil stores to that format, while the other food banners benefited from the conversion of Sendas and Comprebem stores in Q3 2011. Expansion was accelerated with the opening of 15 new stores during the quarter.

Total sales for Exito in Colombia grew strongly in the third quarter, under the combined influence of high organic growth and a favourable foreign-exchange and calendar effect. Exito expanded convenience and discount stores, with the opening of 5 Exito Express, 6 Surtimax, 1 Exito supermarket and 1 Exito hypermarket.

In Asia, same-store growth came out at +3.5%. Organic growth in sales excluding the calendar effect maintained a high level of +9.8%. Total sales grew +19.9%. Big C in Thailand posted organic sales growth excluding calendar of +7.6% and a robust same-store performance at +3.6%.