The Netherlands: Ahold has acquired Bol.com - the most visited retail site in the Netherlands - for €350m. The site sells books, entertainment, electronics and toys. Almost half of all Dutch customers who purchased products online in 2011 shopped on the site. “Bol.com provides us with the platform, scale and expertise we need to accelerate growth in online retailing,” said Ahold CEO Dick Boer.
United States: Costco has posted an 11% hike in half-year sales to $43.69bn. Like-for-like sales in the 24 weeks to 12 February rose 9%, boosted by rising fuel prices. Its international business, which includes operations in the UK, Mexico and Australia, reported like-for-like growth of 10%.
United Arab Emirates: The UAE Ministry of Economy has reversed a ban on the sale of 300ml soft drink cans. The ministry banned the format earlier this week due to consumer protection concerns but partially reversed its decision following talks with Pepsi and Coca-Cola. “We investigated and followed up the case with five leading retailers in Dubai to ensure that they don’t sell 300ml cans and that they are available only in hotels and tourist restaurants in the Emirates,” said Omar Bushahab, CEO of the ministry’s commercial compliance and consumer protection division.
India: PepsiCo has launched its first football ad campaign in India. The company has been closely associated with cricket in the country, but is keen to cash in on football’s growing popularity. The ad campaign features Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor. “Football is gaining immense popularity in India and Pepsi is proud to be associated with the sport,” said PepsiCo Beverages India executive director, marketing, Deepika Warrier.
France: Sales soared 18.2% at Casino last year thanks to a strong performance from its international operations. Sales grew from €29bn to €34.4bn. Its international operations chalked up growth of 40.4%, with sales up 13.4% in Latin America and 11.3% in Asia. In France, sales grew 2.6% following an improved performance from Geant and good trading from its convenience and online businesses.
India: The Indian owner of Whyte & Mackay could be forced to sell a stake in the Scotch whisky brand as it battles to pay off debts of hundreds of millions of pounds. United Breweries Group bought Whyte & Mackay for £595m in 2007 via its United Spirits subsidiary. UB Group’s owner Vijay Mallya told the Bombay Stock Exchange selling a 49% stake in the brand was one of “several options available” to help the group pay off its debt.