Welcome to the August issue of The Grocery Trader. In the holiday season, with Parliament on recess, there’s little political news around so grocery stories have been making the national headlines. Among them is the glorious revelation that on his recent US trip our international trade secretary Liam Fox has been chasing after the chickens – to be exact, doing his best to calm fears that our ongoing ban on imported chlorinated poultry could threaten the hoped for post-Brexit US-UK trade deal.
Here at home, feathers are still ruffled over Tesco’s Booker takeover, which the CMA has decided needs to be put through an in-depth probe. Tesco and Booker have asked for the deal to be fast tracked and indications are a conclusion should be reached by Christmas. The CMA has identified several hundred locations where Tesco stores overlap with shops Booker supplies, which could suffer if the deal goes through.
Variety retailer B&M might not have the same cachet as Tesco, never mind Waitrose but major multiples facing pressure from Aldi, Lidl and the other discounters will no doubt long to have their recent results, up 7.3%, boosted by strong grocery sales.
Shrinking pack sizes are enough to make even the sanest shopper worry that they are imagining things but the ONS has now confirmed that yes, we are paying the same price for less. Some 2,529 products they monitor are smaller than in 2012 and just 614 are bigger. The ONS calls this phenomenon shrinkflation. The infamous shrinking Toblerones featured on ‘Have I Got News For You last autumn.
One thing that shows no sign of reducing is our spending on babies and kids. As our Baby & Kids feature reminds us, although we have an ageing population and more single and childless households, childcare from babyhood to pre-school continues to be a mainstay of UK supermarkets and convenience format stores alike. Omnichannel and home delivery have taken much of the heavy lifting out of baby care, but childcare on the move remains a challenge for busy mums and an opportunity for retailers.
Finally, in another family business success story, our congratulations again to Dean and Sallie Attwell, co-Founders of Oakland International distribution specialists, who took Dean’s parents Michael and Susan with them to a Champagne reception at Buckingham Palace for the winners of The Queens Awards for Enterprise 2017, in the presence of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The occasion honoured over 150 other UK companies for outstanding achievement. The Oakland International team collected two Queen’s Awards, for International Trade and for Sustainable Development.