retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• In Canada, the Globe and Mail reports that Sobeys “will finally launch its FreshCo discount chain in Western Canada next year,” as it converts “almost 65 of its 255 Safeway and Sobeys stores in Western Canada to FreshCo, with the bulk of the changes coming in the following four years.”

The story notes that “Sobeys already runs 91 FreshCo stores in Ontario and has been considering for years moving beyond that province with the low-cost format.”

The Globe and Mail points out that “as Sobeys prepares to introduce more discount stores, it grapples with a customer perception of overly high prices, added costs of rising minimum wages and a massive transformation, dubbed Project Sunrise, which threatens to cause operational disruptions in the coming months.

“While company executives said they were satisfied with the transformation efforts so far, they warned that Sobeys was heading into its riskiest period as it lays off 800 office staff and slims down its operations, potentially pinching profit margins or sales in the next two quarters.”


Bloomberg reports that Kellogg Co. is opening a new cereal cafe in New York City’s Union Square, its second in the city following the one it opened in Times Square last year.

According to the piece, “The cafe will be about fives times larger and feature an Instagram station with props and professional lighting, designed to help customers perfect their social-media posts. There’s a full cereal bar, giant murals of Kellogg characters like Tony the Tiger, a station to heat up Pop-Tarts and a special iron to cook fresh Eggo waffles.” The cafes are seen as “an attempt to generate some foodie buzz” and break out of what has been a four-year sales slump.


• Mickey Mouse, Luke Skywalker, and the Avengers now can welcome The Simpsons and The X-Men to their neighborhood … Variety reports this morning that “The Walt Disney Co. has set a $52.4 billion, all-stock deal to acquire 20th Century Fox and other entertainment and sports assets from Rupert Murdoch’s empire. The deal between Disney and 21st Century Fox marks a historic union of Hollywood heavyweights and a bid by Disney to bolster its core TV and film businesses against an onslaught of new competitors in the content arena.”

The deal does not include the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, Fox Business, and its various sports networks and TV stations.

I mention this latter story because it is a vivid demonstration of how different companies are girding for ongoing competitive challenges and inevitable disruptions. In many ways, Disney is creating its own ecosystem.
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