Dutch retailer Ahold is selling its Tops retail chain in Poland, Slovakia and the US as part of a strategic review. It also plans to sell its US Foodservice business, and cut operating costs by €500m by the end of 2009. Ahold will focus on an improved offer as well as increasing investment in the Czech Republic, where it is a market leader, said Anders Moberg, president and CEO of Ahold. Meanwhile, merger talks between Ahold and Belgium's Delhaize have been dropped, according to press reports.
Whole Foods Market, which is set to open its first UK store in London next year, has warned that it expects slower sales growth next year. Releasing its full-year results to 24 September, John Mackey, chief executive, said 2007 would "be a transition year", with same-store sales growth of 6%-8%, compared with double digits in the past three years. The company reported a 50% increase in full-year net profit to $203.8m on sales up 19% at $5.6bn.
Jiarong has become Spar International's fourth partner in China. The retailer is one of the largest regional retail chains in Guangdong province and operates 13 hypermarkets. It has opened its first Spar hypermarket in the province with a further two stores expected to open soon. "Independents in China face increasing competition from international competitors," said Gordon Campbell, CEO of Spar International.
Lidl has been urged to reduce the amount of pesticide residues found in its fruit and veg. As many as 18 non-governmental environmental and consumer organisations from 14 EU countries sent a joint letter to the company calling for it to "introduce measures and standards in all countries where Lidl is selling food in order to reduce pesticide residues". It has also asked the retailer to extend the availability of organic and fairtrade food to all of its stores and not just those in Germany.
Arla Foods has acquired a 30% stake in Finnish dairy Ingman Foods. It also has the option to buy the remaining 70% over the next three years. The acquisition does not include Ingman's ice cream business.
Carlsberg has reported an 8% increase in nine-month sales to 30 September of DKK30.8bn (£2.77bn). Strong sales in Western Europe and Asia boosted the figures, according to the brewer. Operating profit rose by 22% to DKK3.5bn, but sales and profit were down in Turkey and Poland.
Hypermarket chain E Leclerc has launched a website designed to show consumers how to make good food economically. The site includes a four-week course with five 'gastro-economic' couples who will demonstrate how to cook gastronomical, restaurant-quality food cheaply.