Welcome to the September-October edition of The Grocery Trader, our first under our new publisher Glen Izzard and our first in A4 format. As autumn arrives, we have seasonal features on Halloween & Bonfire Night, OTC Medicines & Winter Remedies and Christmas, plus in-depth specials on Batteries, also important for the festive season, and Bread & Bakery. And don’t miss our industry news pages, our product news and the Back of Store section, looking at that essential area, the supply chain.
As Mandi Leonard, Welfare Director of GroceryAid, explains in our interview, this is a turbulent time for the grocery industry. With a commitment to supporting its beneficiaries’ well being and mental health and high profile fundraising like the recent Barcode Festival, today’s GroceryAid is built to address the needs of 21st century grocery people in difficulties such as losing jobs through restructuring.
Meanwhile, having bought Bookers and shaken up wholesaling, Tesco are now facing out the discounters by launching their own discount chain. With Lidl and Aldi controlling 13% of UK grocery, and just two Jack’s stores open so far and no more than 15 currently planned, some sceptics say the Jack’s opening ‘don’t mean Jack,’ as the Americans say, in volume terms. Maybe. But it shows Tesco have the will to do new things.
We have to wait a few months before the CMA passes judgment on the Sainsbury’s/Asda deal. If the CMA isn’t happy it will be parked. And then there’s Waitrose, who everyone loves despite charging a premium. Ironically ‘never knowingly undersold’ parent John Lewis Partnership’s recent profits fell 99% through competitors cutting prices. Hard choices.
Another current grocery battleground is plastic. Lidl has pledged to be Britains first supermarket to stop using black plastic on fruit and veg, saving 50 tonnes of waste annually, and remove it from fresh meat, fish and poultry by next August.
Lawyers Foot Anstey’s report reveals two thirds of retail leaders plan to invest in new property or develop their portfolio. One-third plan store closures, but just 12% thinking of downsizing blame the rise of online retail.
Despite bashing traditional retail, even Amazon still see a future for brick-andmortar stores. Bloomberg reports Amazon looking at opening 3,000 cashierless AmazonGo stores by 2021, with payment by smartphone. They recognise shoppers will always want more options than online-only and retailers must keep finding new choices. So keep smiling – shops as we know them aren’t dead yet!