Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ocado to launch predictive software for shoppers

Ocado to launch predictive software for shoppers

Online supermarket Ocado.com is launching a tool that will predict when you are running out of items you've ordered from its site.

Ocado was a favourite of Which? members in our latest survey of online supermarkets, ahead of rivals Tesco.com and Asda.co.uk. The online supermarket delivers Waitrose products - our top performing shop in the recent Which? high streets shops survey, and is partly owned by recent Which? Award winner John Lewis.

Ocado tells Which? that the new feature, Ocado Reserved, will launch ‘in the next few weeks'.

A spokesman said the company was currently 'testing and refining' the service.

Ocado to predict your shopping

Ocado says Ocado Reserved will work alongside the recently launched Ocado Instant Order, which automatically generates an order based on what shoppers have bought in the past.

With Ocado Reserved, customers book a favourite weekly, fortnightly or monthly delivery slot and have their ‘regular’ basket automatically prepared by Ocado Instant Order. Ocado says shoppers can decide if they want to use Ocado Reserved. If they do they will be sent a confirmation of their predicted order well in advance of delivery, so they can edit it if they want.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that sales at Waitrose have topped £100m since the launch of the supermarket chain's Essential Range of goods at cheaper prices.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Tesco posts record profits of £3.1bn.

Tesco’s underlying pre-tax profits passed the £3bn mark for the first time in the year to the end of February, totalling £3.1bn, an increase of 8.8 per cent.

Group sales were £59.4bn, up 13.5 per cent on a consistent 52 week basis. UK sales grew 9.5 per cent to £41.5 bn, with like for like sales up 4.3 per cent. The company said it saw strong evidence of customers trading down as the year progressed. Non-food sales were up 5 per cent, but clothing sales were down 2 per cent.

International sales grew 13.6 per cent at constant exchange rates, with Asia performing particularly well, where sales grew almost 20 per cent at constant rates. European sales were up 6.9 per cent at constant rates on a consistent 52-week basis, with conditions worsening as the year progressed.

Tesco’s progress in the US continues to be slow however, with trading losses of £142 million being reported on sales of £208 million.

“We are responding to customers’ changing needs in all our markets by lowering prices, introducing more affordable products and offering even sharper promotions,” said chief executive Sir Terry Leahy. “These actions, combined with our core strengths - in selling food and everyday essentials, owning our own property and having a broad business base - are helping us to cope well with the effects of the downturn.”

The new financial year has started with a 12 per cent rise in group sales, excluding petrol, over the first six weeks, with UK like for likes up 3.4 per cent.

Aldi joins price wars with raft of 99p products.

Aldi has slashed the price of some of its most popular products to just 99p as it wades into the supermarket price wars.

The German discounter has cut prices permanently on products such as fruit juices, cheeses, pasta salads, steak cut-chips and household cleaning items.

Aldi UK and Ireland group managing director Paul Foley said: “Avoiding short-term promotions offering consumers freebies they don’t need enables customers to save more at the checkout.”
Aldi said it has increased shopper numbers 11 per cent in the first three months of the year.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Morrisons profits surge as like-for-likes climb

Morrisons' like-for-like sales climbed 7.9 per cent in the year to February 1, excluding fuel.
Pre-tax profits at the grocer rose to £655m, from £612m the year before. This included £2m of property gains, versus £32m the year before.

Turnover grew 12 per cent to £14.5bn, with around 3 per cent of that growth attributable to the increased price of fuel during the period.

Customer numbers grew 4.2 per cent and average basket spend rose 3.6 per cent. The Morrisons board is recommending a final dividend of 5p per share, to bring the total for the year to 5.8p - an increase of 21 per cent.

Morrisons has benefited as budget-conscious consumers look for value during the downturn. The grocer launched over 21,000 price cuts in the year, when its market share grew from 12.1 per cent to 12.3 per cent, according to TNS market research data. It said it has successfully completed plans to revamp its stores, product offer and brand.

Net debt increased to £642m, up from £543m the year before, after a £678m investment in nine store openings, the freehold to its new distribution centre in Sittingbourne in Kent and payments in to its pension fund.

The retailer, which has 382 stores, will extend its target of having 1 million sq ft of new store space by January 2010 by a further 500,000 sq ft following its acquisition of Co-op/Somerfield stores. It will open around 350,000 sq ft of new retail space in the coming year.

The board will retain capital originally set aside for share buy-backs in the 2009/10 year for further investment opportunities.

Morrisons chief executive Marc Bolland said: "Our focus on fresh food and value appeals to shoppers everywhere and provides a strong platform to take Morrisons from national to nationwide."

Panmure Gordon retail analyst Philip Dorgan said: "The hike in capital expenditure and the promise to look for further acquisitions increases the risk profile, which is already being affected by the outlook for the industry. Margins fell in 2008/09 and we expect further falls in the current year, which drives our well below-consensus earnings estimates."

Friday, 27 February 2009

Asda cuts prices and pledges 'absolute' price transparency

Asda will start to cut another 5,000 prices this weekend and has pledged to provide customers with "absolute" price transparency.

By Easter, the grocer said it will have cut a total of 12,500 prices this year.
Asda vowed to demonstrate value to shoppers by bidding "goodbye to bogofs and any deals or promotions that aren't substantiated by a price".

The retailer said it will not "baffle" consumers by making "vague claims or putting up any prices that can't be fully justified".

It promised: "Customers are guaranteed to be always shown the price they'll pay for every item, deal or no deal."

Asda chief merchandising officer Darren Blackhurst warned suppliers that the grocer would "not stand for any price rises that can't be justified".

He said: "With the country in recession we need to do all we can to lower the cost of the weekly shop and do the right thing by our customers. That's what our price pledge is all about – good honest value week in, week out."

Asda wants shoppers to "highlight products or services that don't deliver real value" and is creating what it described as "the UK's most comprehensive open-access point" on its web site for them to do so.

Asda chief executive Andy Bond said: "We're engaging with our customers in a transparent way to ensure the products we sell and the prices we charge meet their needs in these difficult times."

Additionally, Asda is launching a Saving You Money TV channel on YouTube, enabling consumers to swap cash-saving tips.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Waitrose to blog on NPD

Waitrose has joined the digital revolution with an online tasting panel and foodie blog.

MyWaitrose.com will be launched at the end of the month offering consumers behind-the-scenes insights into NPD, as well as monthly special offers, invites to meet buyers at tasting events and the chance to give their views on products.

“MyWaitrose will engage with customers on a totally new level,” said Richard Hodgson, Waitrose’s commercial director.MyWaitrose manager Jane Orchard added: “We want to continue offering the best food and service, and our customers are best placed to keep us in check. They know a lot about food and cooking so we are offering them direct involvement in the food that appears on our shelves.”

Friday, 13 February 2009

Tesco launches superstore format at Liverpool One, piling pressure on non-food rivals

Tesco will next week unveil a new store fascia – Superstore – in the centre of Liverpool.
The groundbreaking 28,600 sq ft shop opens on Monday in the flagship Liverpool One development in the city centre. Operating over two floors, it carries lines including clothing, electricals and homewares, as well as a full range of food.

A Tesco spokeswoman insisted its first superstore in a city centre does not represent an attempt to create a department store model. However, the grocer's fashion, homewares and other general merchandise lines will compete with a variety of Liverpool One retailers including John Lewis, Debenhams and Zara Home.

The spokeswoman said: "The Liverpool shop is a new development for us and allows us to try our superstore in a city centre.

"The format looks quite different and means our customers can have access to the full range without going to an out-of-town location." More such stores may open if Liverpool is successful.
Planet Retail global research director Bryan Roberts said: "Having a Tesco in a city centre will mean it competes with those mid-market retailers and their non-food offer is compelling."

The Liverpool shop's product lines will be priced in line with other Tesco superstores, instead of the higher prices usually associated with its city centre fascias Metro and Express.

Roberts said: "Tesco has proved that it can exist in any environment and if a location makes sense in terms of rent and servicing, then they will stick a store anywhere."

He added that while Tesco and other grocers have previously had reservations about taking central sites because of high rents, the grocer has clearly identified the prospect of "decent margins".
"There will be lots of competition for central sites like these from players such as TK Maxx, so they will be limited in how many of these stores they can open. But it is clearly an opportunity to try a new location and shows they are looking at sites that fit well for its non-food as well as grocery," Roberts said.

The Liverpool Tesco has a rooftop car park and most tills are self-service. Roberts said the shop would benefit both from convenience shoppers and those who want "everything under one roof".
The initiative follows
Tesco's development of a department store model in the Czech Republic, which is due to open next week. That store will stock fashion brands such as Cortefiel and Adidas alongside own-labels.