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All retail news from Europe
  1. To stop global warming, we all have to eat less - far less - meat. A new international study presents us with a hard choice: either the food industry has to become more sustainable, or we destroy the planet.


    90 % less beef

    After a new UN report on climate change, a team of renowned international scientists presents an analysis of the impact of the food industry on the environment. The results are harsh: avoiding meat and dairy is the number one way to halt climate change. To keep the earth livable and able to sustain us through agriculture, the consumption of beef in the West would have to be reduced by no less than 90 %. In its stead, we are asked to eat five times more beans and legumes.


    In their report, The United Nations warns for a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius within twelve years, unless we act immediately. Even a temperature rise of half a degree would significantly increase the risks of droughts, floods and extreme heat.


    “We should all become flexitarians”

    The UN also indicates that reducing meat and dairy consumption is important, but the report finds that just the opposite seems to be happening: the growing population is consuming more meat, especially in developing nations where other meat kinds are being discovered besides chicken. By 2050 some 2.3 billion people are expected to be added to the world population and worldwide income will have tripled by then, allowing more people to eat lots of meat.


    If we continue like this, we will exhaust the planet, according to the research team in Nature . If we want to feed all ten billion mouths, we should all become 'flexitarians': this means that the average world citizen will have to do with 75 % less beef, 90 % less pork and half the amount of eggs, while eating three times as many beans and legumes and four times as many nuts and seeds. The report says that citizens of rich countries should reduce beef consumption by 90 % and milk by 60 %. Simultaneously, they should increase the consumption of beans and legumes by 400 % and 600 %. On the other hand, the millions of underfed people in poor countries actually ought to eat moremeat and dairy products.


    Agriculture needs to change

    Meanwhile, agriculture itself needs to undergo drastic change. To stop deforestation, water shortage and pollution through overfertilization, we need far-reaching adjustments to our agricultural methods. These include increased crops in poorer countries, more universal water storage and much more careful use of fertilizer. "I was surprised to see that we need a combination of highly ambitious options," says professor Johan Rockström of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in The Guardian: "We really have to push to the limits of what's possible. Either the food industry becomes greener or we eat the planet: that's what's on the menu today."


    Reducing meat consumption can be achieved through a combination of education, taxes, subsidies for plant-based nutrition and changes in the menus in schools and workplaces, according to the scientists.

  2. Russian discounter Torgservis wants to enter the German market via a Berlin-based subsidiary called TS Markt. Torgservis, founded in Siberia, plans to open "over 100" stores all over Germany.


    Competing with Aldi and Lidl

    The Russian chain aims to dive into the gap in the market that German discounters Aldi and Lidl left when they opted for a more up-market concept with a wider selection of major A-brands, and wants to do so with stores that look like warehouses: the merchandise is still in boxes and placed on pallets and racks. With up to 95 % of its product range (of under 2000 SKU) coming from its own private label, the chain is extremely cost-efficiënt. 


    Torgservis is a largely unknown brand in Europe, as its 731 "Svetofor" (traffic light) and "Mayak" (lighthouse) stores are in found in small villages near the Urals. It was founded in 2009 and famous for its cost-cutting methods on both rent and store opening costs - the latter would only amount to 13,000 euro. 


    Up next for the Russian chain are supposed to be Romania and Poland, two huge markets in Central and Eastern Europe. However, both in those two markets as in Germany the EU quality rules apply: experts are curious to see how the Russian giant will cope with the costs coming from adhering to those.

  3. Walmart wants to know what makes your heart beat faster. Literally: the American supermarket giant has requested a patent for shopping carts that register everything from customers' heartbeats to their conversations.


    How soft and how large are your hands?

    Walmart has requested a patent for smart, biometric handles on shopping carts, that would allow the retailer to gain unprecedented information on the person pushing the cart along in the store - according to The handles should be better at reading palms than the best clairvoyants out there: they register your heartbeat and your body temperature, but also how large your hands are, how soft, how moist and even the degree to which they absorb oxygen.


    The cart can also register information on the movements and the environment of the cart itself: it measures the cart's speed and learns its location through a wireless network connection. Even the temperature in the store is recorded. Thanks to built-in microphones, the cart also registers the audio in the environment. Walmart claims that this feature is useful to find out how noisy the store is, but potentially the shopping cart might be eavesdropping on everyone's supermarket bickering soon.


    First aid in case of sweaty hands and heart palpitations

    Walmart names several possible applications for the smart cart: the company wants to learn how many people visit certain aisles and how long they stay there, using location and movement tracking. Walmart also hopes to provide better service: is someone experiencing sweaty palms and palpitations? Time to bring an employee to help out. The cart might even alert the store when someone falls down.


    The arrival of the sensory shopping cart is still far from certain. Innovative companies experimenting with new technology, like Walmart and Amazon are doing in retail, request patents very often, only to ensure that no one else steals their wild ideas. One of Amazon's most famous patent inventions was a parcel-delivering zeppelin.

  4. Belgian perfumery chains Di and Planet Parfum have been acquired by the French Groupe J. Bogart. Former owners Ackermans & van Haaren and NPM have had to write off a substantial loss on the sale.


    8.5 million euro loss on sale

    Ackermans & van Haaren and NPM have sold Distriplus (the direct owner of Di and Planet Parfum) to the French group for an undisclosed amount. However, the take-over will have a negative impact of no less than 8.5 million euro on the results of the second half, say Ackermans & van Haaren.


    Things have not gone so well with Distriplus for some time: despite a recent make-over for the stores, the losses at Di in 2017 amounted to 2.2 million euro (gross) or 1.6 million (net) on a turnover of 110.5 million euro. At Planet Parfum, the net loss amounts to 6.3 million euro on a turnover of 100.4 million euro. As a group Distriplus suffered a loss of 23 million euros last year. This year Planet Parfum managed to grow slightly in the first half of the year, however, turnover continued to decline at Di.


    Groupe J. Bogart is as a specialist in cosmetics: the family business has 157 own stores in France, Germany and Israel so far, and now adds about 200 Distriplus outlets in Belgium and Luxembourg to that. The stores of Di and Planet Parfum will be integrated in Groupe J. Bogart, which also wants to sell its own labels in thel. In the long term, therefore, changes may occur in the multi-brand formulas Di and Planet Parfum, not least in the product range.

  5. German discount supermarket chain Lidl has added Serbia to its list of countries: the group has opened sixteen outlets at once in the Balkan country, five of which are located in the capital Belgrado.


    Seven more to come this year

    Talk about making a big entrance: Lidl opened sixteen stores at once today in Serbia. That's not all: before the end of the year, seven more outlets will appear. Lidl's intended final amount of stores remains unknown.


    The choice of Serbia is no coincidence: the economy in that nation has grown by 4 % this year as a result of rising private consumption, increased investments and attractive export. Lidl, which is part of the German Schwarz Gruppe, is investing some 205 million euros in Serbia according to president Aleksandar Vučić, who personally attended the opening of one of the outlets in Belgrado.


    The president emphasised the importance of Germany as a trade partner and investor. Serbia imported more than 2 billion euros worth of goods from Germany last year, while German companies had already invested a similar amount in Serbia since 2000.


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