CANADA: Wal-Mart is to pull its Sam’s Club business out of Canada with the loss of 1,200 jobs and is in talks with an unnamed US retailer to sell the sites.
“Despite our best efforts and the commendable work of our Sam’s Club associates, our six clubs have not met our expectations,” said Wal-Mart Canada chief executive Dave Cheesewright. “We are hopeful many associates will obtain jobs in other areas of our business and expect the number… ultimately affected to be significantly less than 1,200.”
The business will now focus on growing its Wal-Mart supermarket arm, with 26 new stores to open this year.
AUSTRALIA: Coles suppliers have reported being asked for payments of up to 20% of the value of the goods supplied in an effort by the retailer to reportedly claw back $500m (£228m). Suppliers claim they have not been offered increased sales or any incentive for the requested contribution, while those that refused have had lines delisted.
The grocery market in Australia is dominated by two major retailers, which suppliers say makes it more difficult to negotiate. Australian analysts have speculated that Coles chief executive Ian McLeod, a former Asda executive, is taking the highly competitive British grocery market’s tactics down under.
CHINA: The Chinese ministry of health has described the country’s food safety standards as “grim” as legislation designed to prevent another poisoning scandal was announced this week. In the wake of last year’s melamine scandal, which killed six babies and made 300,000 sick, new laws are being introduced to amalgamate the hundreds of disparate regulations covering food manufacturers in China. From June, businesses will face the prospect of criminal charges and losing their licences if they break the rules.
“We have become more keenly aware of the need to step up regulation and supervision of food safety in this country,” said health minister Chen Xiaohong.
THE NETHERLANDS: Ahold has reported fourth-quarter pre-tax profit of €285m (£255m) as sales rose 12.8% to €6.6bn (£5.92bn). Sales for the full year were up 3.3% to €25.7bn (£23bn), with €1.08bn (£970m) pre-tax profit. The Dutch grocer, which has subsidiaries across Eastern Europe and owns the Stop & Shop and Giant chains in the US, said it would increase its dividend by 12% per share.
“Although the economic environment continues to deteriorate, we believe the business is well prepared to respond,” said chief executive John Rishton.
RUSSIA: X5 Retail Group has completed its rebranding of Perekryostok hypermarkets under the Karusel banner following nearly three years of integration. “Now we have rebranded all hypermarkets as Karusel, we will focus on enhancing the format’s appeal to consumers, particularly in areas that help in tougher economic times,” said X5 chief executive Lev Khasis.