FINANCE

Delhaize, Ahold to divest 86 stores; Publix and Supervalu among buyers

BY Marianne Wilson

As their merger enters the home stretch, Delhaize Group and Ahold have reached agreements with buyers to divest 86 U.S. stores.

The two international companies announced their intent to combine forces back in June 2015. The merger is set for completion at the end of July, pending final approval by the Federal Trade Commission.

The divested stores, whose buyers range from Publix to Supervalu, are in a limited number of locations in which the companies' U.S. subsidiaries both operate. The stores are expected to be converted to their new banners and re-opened after any remodeling by the buyers. All of the purchase agreements are subject to FTC approval.

The locations being divested represent 4.1% of the Ahold and Delhaize Group companies' total combined U.S. store count and 3.2% of combined U.S. 2015 net sales.

When the merger is complete, Ahold Delhaize will operate some 6,500 stores under a portfolio of banners with more than 375,000 associates serving more than 50 million customers weekly.

Here is a list of the buyers of the 86 stores being divested:

New Albertson's, Inc. (part of Albertsons Companies based in Idaho), purchasing one Giant Food store in Salisbury, Md.;

— Big Y (based in Massachusetts), purchasing eight Hannaford stores in eastern Massachusetts;

— Publix (based in Florida), purchasing 10 MARTIN'S stores in Richmond, Va.;

— Saubel's Markets (based in Pennsylvania), purchasing one Food Lion store in York, Pa.;

— Supervalu (based in Minnesota), purchasing 22 Food Lion stores in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia;

— Tops Markets (based in New York), purchasing one Stop & Shop store in Massachusetts as well as three Stop & Shop stores and two Hannaford stores in New York; and

— Weis Markets (based in Pennsylvania), purchasing 38 Food Lion stores in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

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ENERGY/HVAC

Home furnishings giant plugging in more fuel cells

BY Marianne Wilson

Ikea is expanding its renewable energy portfolio with state-of-the-art fuel cell technology.

Based on the success of its pilot installation, Ikea said it plans to install biogas-powered fuel cell systems at four more stores in California.

A year ago, the retailer completed installation of a similar project at its location in Emeryville, one of the Swedish company’s two San Francisco-area stores. Ikea now plans to expand its fuel cell portfolio to 1.3 MW with a system at its other San Francisco-area store (in East Palo Alto), as well as three stores in Southern California (Costa Mesa, Covina and San Diego). Pending permits, the fuel cells will be installed, commissioned and operational by fall 2016, complementing solar arrays already atop each of the four stores.

Ikea contracted Sunnyvale, California-based Bloom Energy, a provider of solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly-efficient on-site power, for the design, development and installation of the planned systems.

“Based on the success of the system installed last year in Emeryville, we are excited about further increasing our renewable portfolio with four more fuel cell projects,” explained IU.S. president Lars Petersson. “Fuel cells represent another way we can contribute to our goal of generating renewable energy equal to the amount of power we consume worldwide.”

Here are more details on the four installations:

• Costa Mesa store – opened in 2003; store size: 308,000 sq. ft. on 24 acres

• FUEL CELL PROGRAM: 300 kW generating 2,497,651 kWh/year

• Equivalent to reducing 1,315 tons of CO2, 278 cars’ emissions or powering 194 homes

• Covina store – opened in 2003; store size: 325,000 sq. ft. on 12.5 acres

• Fuel Cell Program: 200 kW generating 1,665,101 kWh/year

• Equivalent to reducing 877 tons of CO2, 185 cars’ emissions or powering 130 homes

• East Palo Alto store – opened in 2003; store size: 290,000 sq. ft. on 10.5 acres

• Fuel Cell Program: 300 kW generating 2,497,651 kWh/year

• Equivalent to reducing 1,315 tons of CO2, 278 cars’ emissions or powering 194 homes

• San Diego store – opened in 2000; store size: 198,000 sq. ft. on 10 acres

• Fuel Cell Program: 200 kW generating 1,665,101 kWh/year

• Equivalent to reducing 877 tons of CO2, 185 cars’ emissions or powering 130 homes

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MOBILITY

Study: Retailers adopt mobile, may not excel

BY CSA STAFF

Mobile commerce has become almost universal in the retail industry, but competency levels are less uniform.

According to a new study of 250 marketing and IT professionals, including 95 retailers, from digital solutions provider PointSource, “The State of the Mobile Experience,” 91% of retail companies have a mobile site and 84% have a mobile app.

However, silos are common in retailers’ mobile operations. More than half of retailers (54%) say their biggest challenge is finding ways to integrate mobile strategy into an overall marketing strategy. Similarly, 42% say uniting marketing and IT departments is a major barrier.

Other common mobile challenges for retailers include lack of internal resources (24%), budget (20%) and lack of internal management support (18%).

Retail respondents with an existing mobile presence report the most common mobile pain points for their retail customers are a result of poor design or IT infrastructure. Nearly half (48%) list slow page load times as a recurring issue, 31% list difficulties navigating on mobile, and more than a quarter (28%) list either smaller images/videos or not being able to pay on mobile as a roadblock.

Twenty-eight percent of retail respondents with an existing mobile presence report a malfunctioning app or website as a company limitation. Although retailers have been quick to embrace mobile, PointSource says their dissatisfaction with current systems points to deeper issues of mobile app architecture and design.

Retailers are also lagging in the mobile capabilities they offer consumers. Only 57% offer mobile coupons and 51% allow mobile payment. Smaller percentages offer loyalty apps (40%), push notifications (22%) and in-store geolocation technology (22%). Three percent offer none of these capabilities.

Another area many retailers are falling short is in tracking mobile customer metrics. Fifty-seven percent track purchase history, while 43% track loyalty metrics and 38% track app opens. Less popular metrics include geolocation (31%), cart size (29%), time of day (29%) and refer a friend (17%). Eleven percent do not track any of these metrics.

Rating their own mobile competency, 72% of retail respondents said they currently have mobile customer service support and it works well. This level of competency dropped to 51% for shop online pickup in store (another 29% currently have it but find it challenging to provide. Only 46% currently offer mobile coupons or mobile checkout and say it works well (rates of having but finding challenging are 28% and 26%, respectively). Forty-five percent offer location-based notifications and say it works well, with another 29% finding it challenging.

In addition, 33% of respondents said their store associates currently have access to mobile technology to assist in-store customers. Another 52% do not but are very interested, with 13% slightly interested. Only 2% have no interest in equipping store associates with mobile technology.

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