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Walmart launches free next-day delivery, taking aim at Amazon

Walmart is rolling out free next-day delivery on its most popular items, increasing the stakes in the retail shipping wars. The nation’s largest retailer said Tuesday it has been building a network of more efficient e-commerce distribution centers to make that happen.

The next-day service will cover 220,000 popular items from diapers and nonperishable food items to toys and electronics. That’s nearly double the number of items Walmart carries in its stores.

Next-day delivery, which will require a minimum order of $35, will be available in Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas on Tuesday. In coming days, it will expand to Southern California. The discounter plans to roll out the service to 75 percent of the U.S. population by year-end. It will also be adding hundreds of thousands more products as the program expands.

The announcement comes just two weeks after online behemoth Amazon said it’s upgrading its free shipping option to Prime members, who pay $119 a year, to one-day delivery from two-day delivery. Amazon has declined to say when the switch will happen, but it already offers one-day delivery for some items in certain areas.

“Trying to get ahead”

Walmart said its new delivery program has been in the works for a while. “Customer expectations continue to rise,” Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce division, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “We’re trying to get ahead of that.”

The move will only increase pressure on other rivals that are already investing millions of dollars to shorten the delivery window. Amazon changed consumer expectations when it launched its two-day delivery for Prime members back in 2005 and forced other retailers to step up their game. But analysts said Amazon then needed to cut the delivery time in half to make its membership more attractive because Walmart and other retailers offered free two-day deliveries without any membership.

Two years ago, Walmart began offering free two-day shipping on millions of items on its website for orders of at least $35. Target also offers free two-day shipping for those who spend at least $35 or use its RedCard loyalty card. Walmart has also been expanding same-day grocery delivery service fulfilled from its stores for a fee of about $10.

Lore said it will be cheaper for the company to do next-day delivery versus two-day service because eligible items will come from a single fulfillment center located closest to the customer. This means orders will ship in one box, or in as few as possible, unlike two-day deliveries that come in multiple boxes from multiple locations.

Amazon hikes self-delivery

Still, Walmart sells far fewer products than Amazon, and its online U.S. sales are only a fraction of Amazon’s online global merchandise empire. Amazon has also been delivering more packages itself rather than relying on the U.S. Postal Service and other carriers like UPS and FedEx. The company expects to spend $800 million in the second quarter to speed up deliveries and has expanded its fleet of jets. On Monday, Amazon announced it will be expanding an incentive program to its employees so they can quit their jobs and start their own Amazon package delivery businesses.

Walmart has one big advantage over Amazon: It has more than 4,700 stores. Walmart and Target have been turning their physical stores into shipping hubs, speeding up deliveries and helping defray costs for services like curbside delivery and in-store pickup. Walmart has also been expanding the use of robots in its stores, which keep tabs on what’s on and not on the shelves. And Target has redesigned its staging area for packages to help speed up fulfilling curbside deliveries.

Source: CBS News

Top 50 Grocers: Aldi Stays in Top 10, but Lidl Closes In; Meijer and Hy-Vee Rise

The top six slots of Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list offer no surprises in terms of position — all of the companies that ranked first through sixth last year have reclaimed their places.

But while these food retailers continue their battle for ultimate dominance over the U.S. grocery sector, those operators further down on the list are showing more movement as they strive to keep up with consumer trends.

The first inkling of this in the ranking is the swapping of places of Amazon/Whole Foods Market (down two spots to No. 10) and Aldi U.S. (holding steady at No. 9) from last year, showing the solidifying influence of limited-assortment hard discounters, with their largely private-brand offering, in the United States. While Aldi’s aggressive push to open more U.S. stores has helped it maintain its top 10 ranking, arch-rival Lidl — a fellow European operator that has managed to recover its momentum after a rocky U.S. debut — now sits slightly below the Super 50, coming in at No. 56, while last year it failed to chart entirely.

Notable rises were those of Meijer, up five slots to No. 7 from last year’s No. 12; Hy-Vee, up three spots to No. 12; Giant Eagle, up two spaces to No. 14; Demoulas Super Markets, operator of Market Basketstores, up seven spots to No. 18; Save Mart Supermarkets, up four rungs to No. 19; Ingles Markets, up six spots to No. 24; SpartanNash, up two rungs to No. 33; Coborn’s, up six spaces to No. 44; and Ohio independent Marc’s, up one notch to No. 45, along with Rouses, new to the Super 50 at No. 47, from 51st place last year.

All of these positive moves are indicative of regional grocers more than holding their own at a time of increasing consolidation among the top players by displaying an unparalleled ability to meet the needs of the shoppers in their respective market areas, based on years spent catering to those local customers.

This regional mojo didn’t work for every grocer on the list, however: Southeastern Grocers (No. 13), Wegmans (No. 16), Stater Bros. (No. 23) and K-VA-T/Food City (No. 35) were each down two spots, while Grocery Outlet slid four slots to No. 38, Inserra Supermarkets (a ShopRite operator) dropped nine spaces to No. 49, all of these downward trends showing that competitive pressures may be taking their toll on smaller players in certain markets. Further, as Target’s two-slot slip to No. 15 shows, even large national players are feeling the competitive heat.

Still, significant M&A activity was reflected in this year’s Super 50 in a couple of instances. One company in particular saw a dramatic debut on the list: United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), which, thanks to its purchase of wholesaler/grocer Supervalu last October, roared into the rankings at No. 30. Despite industry speculation last July that UNFI would eventually divest itself of Supervalu’s remaining stores, the company hasn’t entirely rid itself of those banners yet, leading to the wholesaler’s place on the list.

In the other major transaction, following its acquisition of Fiesta Mart last year to become the nation’s largest Hispanic-focused grocer, Bodega Latina Corp. leapfrogged an astonishing 14 spots to No. 34 on the 2019 list.

What will next year’s Super 50 reveal? The top six grocers will most likely remain the same, barring any huge deals as yet undone, but lower down the list should present some fascinating developments in a rapidly changing industry.

Our drill-down into the Super 50 will continue throughout the week. Check back daily for the latest update.

Source: Progressive Grocer

UFCW Local 1776KS Members Approve Acme Markets Contract

Acme Markets employees represented by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State overwhelmingly approved a new 4-year contract that improves wages and protects benefits for thousands of Acme members who serve Philadelphia-area customers.

The new contract covers 3,300 union members working in over 40 Acme Markets locations. Negotiations began in late 2017 and continued over the following year, wrapping up in early May of this year. Highlights from the approved contract include:

  • Increased starting rate
  • Lump sum/hourly wage increases
  • Increased premiums for many positions
  • Expanded anti-discrimination language that covers gender identity and expression
  • Protection of benefits
  • Continued provisions for retirement

“When we started negotiations, we had a tough road ahead with some challenging decisions to make. However, throughout more than a year of bargaining, our union committee remained dedicated and unwavering as we worked to secure a good union contract. We worked tirelessly to ensure that all key matters were tackled,” said UFCW Local 1776KS president, Wendell Young IV. “I am proud of our team for the hard work they have put into this contract. At the end of the day, we were able to find common ground and reach an agreement that continues to provide for retirement, increases wages, protects our members’ benefits, and expands anti-discrimination language. It is a good outcome and a solid contract.”

Local 1776KS Acme members look forward to continuing to focus on serving Philadelphia area customers and working with the company to ensure that Acme remains the best supermarket for customers to shop at.

Acme Markets is a subsidiary of Albertsons and operates over 160 supermarkets throughout Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, including 41 stores in Southeastern Pennsylvania represented by UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State. UFCW Local 1776KS represents over 35,000 union members, including supermarket workers across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.

Source: Yahoo! Finance

In-store concepts feeding customers’ needs

As food retailers gain more experience providing prepared-foods solutions for their customers, they are carefully selecting restaurant partners or developing concepts themselves that meet the needs of their shoppers.

Some operators that had previously relied primarily on in-house foodservice have begun bringing in more restaurant concepts from outside, especially local brands or others whose offerings are an especially good fit.

Whole Foods Market has been bringing in small local or specialty restaurant brands for several years, and Hy-Vee made a splash with its Wahlburgers partnership, bringing that well-known chain to its customers in the Midwest.

More recently, Kroger Co. has begun partnering with some small restaurant brands, including Eli’s Barbecue, Rapid Fire Pizza and Mazunte Taqueria. Kroger’s Mariano’s banner now appears to be following that playbook, rolling out the Pork & Mindy’s barbecue concept to several Chicagoland stores.

Other operators introducing new concepts include Meijer, which opened a Mayan Buzz Café in its new Bridge Street Market store in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Price Chopper Supermarkets, which has been rolling out concepts and menu items that it tests at its Market Bistro store in Latham, N.Y.; and Rouses Markets, which complements its in-house barbecue and sandwich concepts with a branded Asian stir-fry offering.

Source: Supermarket News

Drones in Aisle 5? Grocery stores are becoming unusual hotbeds of innovation

In a grocery store somewhere in North America, a small drone floats from aisle to aisle, hovering like a hummingbird that has traded its nimble wings for tiny propellers.

Each time the autonomous robot drops down to scan a crowded shelf using an onboard camera, the machine collects valuable data about the store’s ever-changing inventory.

What would take a person hours to accomplish — tediously checking shelves for missing or misplaced products — is accomplished in minutes by the tiny aircraft. Once finished, the drone uploads its findings to the cloud, setting a massive supply chain in motion and offering the store’s owners, and potentially brand manufacturers, the kind of precise data about shopping habits that has largely eluded brick-and-mortar stores.

It may sound like a sequence from some high-tech vision of the future, but the drone and the artificial intelligence behind it — created by an Austin-based startup and data subscription service called Pensa — already has been tested in multiple retail outlets and probably will begin appearing in grocery stores later this year.

Not so long ago, stepping inside a grocery store — with its canned goods, harsh lighting and outdated Muzak playlists — felt like going back in time. The industry’s business model had changed little over the past century. Now, experts say, the industry finds itself in the midst of a technological upheaval, one that is providing the public with a glimpse of a future far beyond self-service kiosks and online shopping.

Those changes are not without risk. As U.S. retail companies embrace automation, many experts believe that the impact on jobs will be significant, with some analysts predicting as many as 7.5 million retail workers could lose their jobs over the next decade. Yet the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests the retail-sales labor force will grow over the decade between 2016 and 2026, though more slowly than average.

In recent months, Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer, introduced a new fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles, and Giant Food Stores rolled out a series of robotic assistants named “Marty” that scan shelves and identify hazardous spills. Last year, Kroger introduced a system called “Scan, Bag, Go” that allows customers to scan and pay for grocery items as they shop — with their smartphone.

Walmart customers recently have been able to order groceries using a Google assistant, joining Amazon-owned Whole Foods, which partnered with Amazon’s Echo last year so that customers can shop using voice commands.

By next year, Walmart — which also sells $200 billion worth of groceries each year and remains the world’s largest private employer with 1.5 million Americans on its payroll — plans to have autonomous floor-scrubbing robots at nearly half of its 4,700 U.S. stores, part of a major effort to upgrade its business by harnessing the convenience of intelligent machines.

Pensa CEO Richard Schwartz says it’s developments such as these that make grocery stores “ground zero” for the blurring of the online and offline worlds. He identified several forces within the industry that have resulted in a swelling of innovation:

  • Convenience: Busy lifestyles mean consumers increasingly expect companies to make the shopping experience frictionless so they can reclaim their time.
  • Experimentation: The combination of delivery, pickup and in-person shopping is challenging inventory and supply chains, forcing grocery chains to partner with robotics companies and introduce new forms of automation and high technology.
  • Disruption: Increasingly efficient online shopping means brick-and-mortar chains are under pressure to evolve.

“Amazon is right behind all of this, waking everybody up and basically challenging the industry to find an effective way to do that end-to-end delivery to the consumer with more combinations and more instant gratification,” Pensa said. (Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

He added: “Somehow, the future of retail has to marry that convenience with tighter control over knowing what’s available for sale and how much product should be in each location, without completely redesigning every store, everywhere, for every product, in order to compete and deliver effectively.”

There is perhaps no grocery seller embracing futuristic technology faster than Walmart, the retail juggernaut, which began using Oculus VR headsets to train employees at its nationwide academies in 2017.

At their recently opened “Intelligent Retail Lab” in Levittown, N.Y., the company has turned a 50,000-square-foot store into a mass experiment in new technologies. Using an array of cameras, sensors and processors, the artificially intelligent store automatically sends out-of-stock notifications to internal apps monitored by store employees.

The store has enough processing power to download three years’ worth of music (27,000 hours) each second, Walmart said.

“With technology performing mundane tasks like evaluating if shopping carts need to be corralled, associates will be able to spend more time on tasks humans can do best, such as helping customers or adding creative touches to merchandise displays,” the company said in a statement.

If that’s true, according to Erikka Knuti, the communications director at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, then customers are going to respond positively to an influx of new technologies. The key, she said, is for businesses to take a hybrid approach that introduces useful technology while also enhancing customer service.

“If you think people don’t want to interact with somebody when they make their purchases, then you’re not reading the tea leaves,” Knuti said.

For a recent example of stores implementing technology poorly, Knuti pointed to Marty, the googly-eyed, 7-foot-tall robot patrolling grocery stores up and down the East Coast.

“People hate Marty,” Knuti said. “He moves around the store and people feel like he’s watching them. Small children and toddlers cry — he’s creepy!”

“If you’re looking at technology and innovation and not looking at improving the customer experience, it’s not really technology that’s going to move your business forward,” she added.

Source: The Denver Post

Lucky Supermarkets launches Instacart delivery

Lucky Supermarkets has kicked off online grocery delivery with Instacart at 21 stores in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Save Mart Cos. chain said same-day delivery service is available through stores under the Lucky and Lucky California banners in Castro Valley, Concord, Danville, Dublin, El Cerrito, Foster City, Livermore, Millbrae, Milpitas, Pleasanton, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Francisco, San Jose, San Ramon, Sunnyvale and Vacaville.

Plans call for Instacart service to launch at more locations this year. Lucky operates 70 supermarkets in the Bay Area and Northern California.

“People in the Bay Area lead especially busy lives. We are excited to offer the Instacart online shopping and home delivery service as an additional and easy point of access to the great values found in our Lucky and Lucky California retail locations,” Barbara Walker, chief marketing officer for The Save Mart Cos., said in a statement. “Many of our stores are newly upgraded to reflect an enhanced selection of globally inspired flavors, meal ideas and an abundant selection of the freshest local produce, meat and seafood.”

Lucky noted that customers shopping online through the Instacart marketplace website or mobile app will find the same prices as in stores. Members of the Lucky You Rewards program also will earn points for purchases made via Instacart.

Lucky customers can select a delivery window of one hour or up to five days, and their order is picked, packed and delivered by an Instacart personal shopper. For orders of $35 or more, the delivery fee is $3.99, and those signing up for an Instacart Express membership ($9.99 per month or an annual $99 fee) get unlimited free delivery on all orders over $35. To support the launch with Lucky, Instacart is offering first-time customers $20 off their first order of $35 or more when they enter the code “Lucky20” at checkout.

“We’re proud to partner with Lucky and Lucky California stores to bring their loyal shoppers in the Bay Area a new way to have their groceries and everyday essentials delivered to their door, in as fast as an hour,” said Sarah Mastrorocco, vice president of business development for San Francisco-based Instacart. “Lucky is a beloved California grocer and an exciting addition to Instacart’s marketplace of more than 300 national, regional and local retailers.”

Instacart’s service launch at Lucky stores adds to The Save Mart Cos.’ e-commerce offering. Nearly a year ago, the Modesto, Calif.-based retailer introduced its own online grocery pickup service, dubbed ClickCart, at a Save Mart store in Modesto, Calif., and a Lucky California store in Dublin, Calif.

The program has since expanded to Save Mart stores in Fresno, Riverbank, Visalia, Elk Grove and Truckee, Calif., as well as to Lucky stores in Concord, El Cerrito, Foster City, Fremont (two locations), Livermore, Los Altos, Santa Clara, San Jose (four locations) and San Ramon, Calif.

Overall, The Save Mart Cos. retail network includes 208 traditional and price-impact supermarkets under the banners Save Mart (81 locations), Lucky and Lucky California (70), FoodMaxx (54), S-Mart Foods (two) and MaxxValue Foods (one) in California (199 stores) and Nevada (nine stores).

Source: Supermarket News

11 once-popular grocery stores that disappeared forever

It’s hard to successfully sell groceries.

Margins in the business are notoriously low. You’ve also got to contend with ever-shifting customer preferences and stiff competition from other supermarkets, powerful e-commerce outfits like Amazon, and big-box giants like Walmart and Costco.

And you can’t forget the retail apocalypse that’s been dragging down much of the industry.

That’s why it’s not surprising to see that a large number of once-successful grocery chains ultimately crashed and burned. In some cases, the companies ran up against unfortunate circumstances beyond their control. In other situations, the grocers proved too slow to adapt to shifting trends or ramped-up competition.

Here’s a list of grocery store chains that are no longer with us:

The A&P was founded in 1859 in New York City, but after 100 years in business the once-powerful grocer began a slow decline. A&P filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, and all stores ceased operations that same year.

The A&P was founded in 1859 in New York City, but after 100 years in business the once-powerful grocer began a slow decline. A&P filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, and all stores ceased operations that same year.

An A&P grocery store.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Waldbaum’s was a New York supermarket chain that managed to venture into neighboring states like New Jersey and Connecticut during its 115-year history. A&P bought the business from the Waldbaum family in 1986. Waldbaum’s met its fate alongside its parent company in 2015.

Waldbaum's was a New York supermarket chain that managed to venture into neighboring states like New Jersey and Connecticut during its 115-year history. A&P bought the business from the Waldbaum family in 1986. Waldbaum's met its fate alongside its parent company in 2015.

A Waldbaum’s store.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Grand Union stores once dotted the northeastern United States. But in 2001, the grocer filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. C&S Wholesale Grocers bought the company, then sold it off to Tops Friendly Markets in 2012. The following year, the new owner discontinued the Grand Union brand.

Grand Union stores once dotted the northeastern United States. But in 2001, the grocer filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. C&S Wholesale Grocers bought the company, then sold it off to Tops Friendly Markets in 2012. The following year, the new owner discontinued the Grand Union brand.Toby Talbot/AP Images

The Alpha Beta chain of supermarkets was named after its habit of alphabetizing groceries. Founded in 1915, the business was passed among a number of parent companies throughout the decades. By 1995, the brand had died out entirely.

The Alpha Beta chain of supermarkets was named after its habit of alphabetizing groceries. Founded in 1915, the business was passed among a number of parent companies throughout the decades. By 1995, the brand had died out entirely.

An Alpha Beta grocery store.

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

The Genuardi family ran their namesake chain of grocery stores for much of the brand’s history. Founded in 1920, the company opened supermarkets throughout the northeastern US. Then, in 2000, Safeway acquired the business. Genuardi’s underwent a decline in the following years, and all its stores shuttered by 2015.

The Genuardi family ran their namesake chain of grocery stores for much of the brand's history. Founded in 1920, the company opened supermarkets throughout the northeastern US. Then, in 2000, Safeway acquired the business. Genuardi's underwent a decline in the following years, and all its stores shuttered by 2015.

Inside a Genuardi’s.

William Thomas Cain/AP Images

Headquartered in Queens, the Bohack chain of grocery stores first launched in 1887. The company operated locations throughout the New York City area for decades, but closed for good in 1977.

Headquartered in Queens, the Bohack chain of grocery stores first launched in 1887. The company operated locations throughout the New York City area for decades, but closed for good in 1977.

A Bohack grocery store.

Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

Founded in 1893, Eagle Food Centers once boasted locations across the Midwest. But fierce competition would ultimately doom the grocer, which filed for bankruptcy in 2000. By 2003, all its stores had closed.

Founded in 1893, Eagle Food Centers once boasted locations across the Midwest. But fierce competition would ultimately doom the grocer, which filed for bankruptcy in 2000. By 2003, all its stores had closed.

One 1984 Eagle Food Centers commercial featured a terrifying clown.

recordman33/Youtube

Buttrey Food & Drug first came on the scene as a Montana department store — it was called Buttrey Department Store at the time — but pivoted to grocery sales in the 1930s. After Albertsons acquired the company in 1998, the brand was phased out.

Buttrey Food & Drug first came on the scene as a Montana department store — it was called Buttrey Department Store at the time — but pivoted to grocery sales in the 1930s. After Albertsons acquired the company in 1998, the brand was phased out.

A snapshot of an old Buttrey Food and Drug TV spot.

Hummingbird Productions/Youtube

Delchamps stores began popping up across the Gulf Coast after the first store went into business in 1921. The grocer met with disaster after a 1997 merger with Jitney Jungle. Two years later, both brands went into bankruptcy.

Delchamps stores began popping up across the Gulf Coast after the first store went into business in 1921. The grocer met with disaster after a 1997 merger with Jitney Jungle. Two years later, both brands went into bankruptcy.

A snapshot of an old Delchamps TV spot.

ClassicTVtoday/Youtube

Marsh Supermarkets had a good run in Indiana and Ohio, opening dozens of stores throughout the two states. After 88 years in business, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and was out of business by July of that year.

Marsh Supermarkets had a good run in Indiana and Ohio, opening dozens of stores throughout the two states. After 88 years in business, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and was out of business by July of that year.

Customers get vaccinated in a Marsh Supermarkets store.

Chuck Robinson/AP Images

Marsh’s demise also dragged down O’Malia’s Food Market. Opened in 1966, the upscale O’Malia’s had been acquired by Marsh in 2001.

Marsh's demise also dragged down O'Malia's Food Market. Opened in 1966, the upscale O'Malia's had been acquired by Marsh in 2001.

An O’Malia’s Food Markets store.

Spoiledmilk1/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Business Insider

Lidl’s Long Island strategy includes new builds and remodels

  • Lidl announced it will open four stores on Long Island next year — the “first of several waves of openings” following its acquisition of 27 Best Market stores in December, according to a company release. The openings include a mix of remodeled stores as well as new builds.
  • The discounter plans to open remodeled Best Market stores in the towns of Babylon and Huntington and will open new locations in Plainview and Center Moriches. The Plainview location will replace the current Best Market store in Hicksville.
  • The retailer said it will heavily invest in the Long Island region and will use local contractors for construction projects. Lidl also said it plans to offer jobs to all legacy Best Market employees at wages that are equal to or above what they’ve been earning.

Lidl’s acquisition of Best Market late last year left a few lingering questions about how the grocer would leverage the asset. Would the company keep the chain’s service departments, including meat and deli, intact to some degree or swap them out for its legacy discounter model? And would Lidl build new locations, or just remodel existing Best Markets?

Tuesday’s announcement brought some clarity to both those questions. Will Harwood, a spokesman for Lidl, confirmed to Grocery Dive that these first four locations will follow the company’s traditional store model, which doesn’t include any service departments except for a grab-and-go bakery section. He declined to say whether Lidl will continue to remodel Best Market stores in this fashion, noting that the company is continuing to listen to shoppers in the region.

Harwood said the new store openings in Plainview and Center Moriches will take place in retail spaces formerly owned by Best Market. It’s unclear how much retail real estate Best Market owns outside of its existing stores, though it does open the door for Lidl to introduce even more stores to the Long Island region than the current 27 it acquired.

In its statement, Lidl said it is excited to bring its “simple and efficient shopping” to Long Island customers, but loyal northeastern Best Market shoppers may not be so keen on Lidl removing service counters, which are trip drivers for many grocers. Lidl did not indicate where it will place workers who specialize in Best Market’s service departments.

Although it doesn’t offer traditional service counters, Lidl does have a selection of fresh packaged meat, seafood and deli items in addition to its bakery selections. Selling customers on the quality and value of these products will be key for the company as it competes with the likes of Whole Foods and Stop & Shop for consumer dollars.

Depending on how shoppers respond, Lidl may wind up retaining some or all of the service departments Best Market customers are used to in its future expansion waves. The discounter is trying to stay flexible with its U.S. growth, as evidenced by the December acquisition, which breaks with Lidl’s preference to build new stores from scratch. The chain has also broadened its range of real estate options to include smaller stores in line with its European model, and last year opened its first mall location in Staten Island.

Source: Grocery Dive

Grocery Workers Union Votes To Approve Contract With King Soopers

After five months of negotiations, during which some King supers union members voted to authorize a strike, a new contract was voted on and approved by representatives of 20,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 union.

Members voted to approve contracts with the state’s larges grocery companies, King Soopers, City Market, Safeway and Albertsons, the union said in a statement.

Union members voted in 85 different Colorado locations in a voting period between April 4 and Thursday. The final vote took place in Montrose, with all units ratifying their new three-year contracts, a statement from UFCW Local 7 said.

Union members had voted to authorize a strike in March, but it never came to fruition, after talks repeatedly broke down between King Soopers parent company Kroger and union negotiators.

While details were not immediately released, the union said the new contract included, ” pay raises for tens of thousands of families across the Mountain West.”

“These hardworking women and men stood together for better lives and a better place to work. Together, our new contracts will provide pay raises for every worker, good health care and retirement benefits, and a safer workplace,” said UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova in a statement. “Making each store a better place to work also makes it a better place to shop. Strong customer service is what made these companies successful and we are pleased this contract invests in the workers who proudly serve our communities every day.”

Sick-leave benefits and raises that were fairly offered across-the-board were some of the sticking points that caused friction between union members and the national grocery giant.

According to a union press release, the new contract included the following:

  • “Better wages, including pay raises retroactive to the end of the previous contract
  • Good healthcare, including better dental benefits
  • Secure retirements for 12,000 retirees and those still working
  • Credit for military service as work experience
  • More time off to ensure the safety of victims of domestic abuse or stalking
  • Easier access to first-day sick leave, so food workers can stay healthy on the job.”

The union’s previous contract, covering employees in Colorado and Wyoming, had expired in January. During hostile negotiations, signs popped up at Colorado King Soopers stores advertising for temporary workers, paid $15 an hour, with no benefits. The starting salary offered to union members by the company was around $14.41, according to the union’s website.

“King Soopers/City Market and UFCW Local 7 have reached an agreement which has been ratified by the members. This is good news for our associates, customers and communities,” said King Soopers corporate spokesman Adam Williamson in a statement.

The company runs about 159 grocery stores in Colorado. The last King Soopers strike was in 1996.

Source: Patch.com

Stop & Shop workers vote to approve contract

Stop & Shop workers have approved a new contract, following an 11-day strike last month that crippled New Englandʼs largest and only fully unionized supermarket chain.

Five United Food & Commercial Workers locals in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut representing 31,000 workers voted on the proposal over the course of the past week and a half, ending Wednesday with Local 1459 in Springfield.

Vote totals were not released, but the unit voted “overwhelmingly in favor,” of the pact, the union said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The union released few details about the agreement, noting that it preserved access to affordable health care while maintaining eligibility for spouses, protected premium pay on Sundays for full and part-timers, maintained current pensions, and kept the same number of sick days and paid holidays

for current and future employees. The contract also grants raises for part-timers moving to full-time and guarantees a pathway for new hires to earn more than minimum wage.

Previously, the union acknowledged that future part-timers would get lower pension contributions and would not be guaranteed time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays during their first three years. About three-quarters of the workforce is part time.

Stop & Shopʼs parent company, Ahold Delhaize, reported that it lost $10 million a day during the work stoppage at more than 240 stores due to wasted inventory and a substantial decrease in sales.

Shoppers were reluctant to cross picket lines and deal with reduced inventory, and many took their business to nearby competitors. In the first few days of the strike, visits to the grocery chain by regular customers dropped 75 percent, compared with the previous weekend, according to an analysis of mobile device data by Skyhook, a location technology and intelligence company in Boston.

“New England families have sent a powerful message to corporations across the country – that when standing together, workers and customers can protect the good jobs our communities need,” the UFCW said in a statement. “With growing income inequality, we are united by the shared belief that one job should be enough to provide for a family and that hardworking Americans do not have to struggle alone.”

Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan said in a statement that the company was pleased to have a fair and responsible new contract in place. “This has been a challenging period for everyone,” he said. “However, together with the UFCW union locals, we were able to reach agreements that got the balance right, with strong rewards for associates plus significant, durable structural changes, particularly on health care, that will enable Stop & Shop to protect jobs, serve our customers, and compete successfully as New Englandʼs only remaining fully-unionized large supermarket company.”

Source: The Boston Globe