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Retail

Sweden's ICA Gruppen Plans 'Step Change' In Online Presence Next Year

Swedish retailer ICA Gruppen is introducing a number of 'step-change' focus areas across its business, with the rollout of a more comprehensive online solution among its chief goals.

At its Capital Markets Day, ICA Gruppen said that its new online programme for its Swedish business, which will be implemented 'to meet the rapid growth [of] online', will have an estimated margin effect of around -0.1 % for ICA Sweden during 2021 and less than -0.1 % in 2022.

'The new market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a greater focus on price value, new ways of working, tougher requirements for functioning supply chains and a greater interest in health and sustainability; but above all, 2020 has been distinguished by accelerating growth in online sales,' the retailer said.

Online Update

The group said that it will introduce a 'platform change' for both stores and shoppers, as well as a highly-automated 'dark store' in Stockholm.

Its Apotek Hjärtat business, meanwhile, is seeing increased sales via its online platforms and will concentrate on 'further strengthening its presence and creating a more profitable online business'. Elsewhere, Rimi Baltic is also continuing to expand its online offering, which was rolled out this year.

The retailer is using its ICAx innovation hub to further strengthen its ecosystem, with the recent rollout of express food deliveries to customers via the ICA Pronto service, and the introduction of unmanned stores, making 24-hour opening possible.

ICAx has also led to the development of analytics-powered tools to help reduce shrinkage in stores, among other initiatives.

Step-Change Areas

'ICA Gruppen is financially strong and has a clear strategy for the future,' it said. 'This makes the company well equipped to meet the new normal. During the coming years, ICA Gruppen will focus on a number of updated strategic step-change areas.'

These include the development of a strengthened food ecosystem, data driven transformation supported by AI/AA, 'transformation' plans to reduce cost and build new capabilities, the rollout of its 'Climate beyond Neutrality' programme, and initiatives to enable shoppers make healthier choices.

The group anticipates a capital expenditure of around SEK 3.5 billion next year, which is lower than last year's level of approximately SEK 5 billion. This is largely due to a lower level of investment in ICA Real Estate, which carried out a major acquisition of a warehouse property in the past year.

Earlier this week, ICA announced a 5.7% increase in like-for-like sales across its store estate for the month of November, with sales across the group's portfolio coming in at SEK 10.47 billion (€1.03 billion) for the month.

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine

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