Around the globe news bites

Spanish chain joins purchasing group

Spanish discount supermarket group DIA has joined a global purchasing alliance with three of its European rivals, a move designed to help the retailers cut prices and expand their own-label ranges.

The group, Horizon National Services, was formed in June by French companies Auchan Retail and Casino Group along with Germany’s Metro. Supermarket groups are increasingly joining forces to try to strengthen their bargaining power with big-brand suppliers.

France’s Carrefour and the UK’s Tesco set up a similar alliance in June. DIA said its alliance would become operational as soon as approval was received from competition authorities.

UK gets tougher on plastic bags 

The plastic bag fee in England could rise to 10p (18c), depending on the results of a new government consultation to be launched
later this year.

Since October 2015, retailers employing more than 250 people have been made to charge customers at least 5p for each single-use bag. But now the scheme may be extended to all shops regardless of size, with the charge set at 10p.

The government estimates that 13 billion plastic bags have been taken out of circulation in the UK, since larger retailers began to charge for bags. But it is currently estimated that small and medium companies still supply more than three billion bags every year.
Smaller retailers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already charge a minimum of 5p for plastic bags.

Ikea under fire over Taiwan 

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has come under fire over references to Taiwan on its product tags and on its website.

Chinese media and internet users are up in arms over the usage, with one internet poster accusing the company of trying to split up the country in which it makes so much money.

The Chinese government is sensitive about Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province that must one day be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary, and frequently pressures global businesses to adhere to its “one China” policy.

This can be challenging for businesses that need to provide information about areas of service or delivery. But the Chinese government pointed out that Ikea is sensitive about other controversial areas, making clear, for example, that the Canary Islands are Spanish territory.

California business parks welcome cannabis retailers

Canna-Hub, a real estate company based in Sacramento, California, has developed a model to solve the real estate and tax problems plaguing businesses that deal in cannabis.

Although state law permits such enterprises, US federal law is less accommodating, and landlords can be prosecuted for violating the Controlled Substances Act. This, together with California’s tight real estate market, tends to push up the price of rent even when facilities are made available.

Canna-Hub CEO Tim McGraw negotiates with local governments to build business parks devoted exclusively to cannabisbased operations, and works with the fledgling businesses to navigate taxes, leases and licensing fees. California’s cannabis market is expected to reach US$5 billion by 2019.

Amazon to launch food and drink sales in Mexico

Amazon is ready to start selling food and drinks online in Mexico, a move that could intensify competition with Walmart, as both groups vie for dominance in the nascent e-commerce market.

Launched in 2015, Amazon’s Mexico site now includes coffees, teas, liquors, wines and beers, as well as cooking ingredients, non-perishable snacks and sweets. Such non-perishables are seen as a first step towards fresh food, a market where both Amazon and Walmart are strong and growing in the US.

Walmart has said it plans to accelerate its grocery business in Mexico, counting on its 2390 stores to help execute speedy deliveries.

Hand-me-downs go high-end

The latest player in Hong Kong’s online recycling market is Retykle, which targets a category that is frequently overlooked when
it comes to textile waste – children’s wear.

Former Lane Crawford executive Sarah Garner was inspired to launch the site last year when she had her first child and received so much lightly used clothing from a friend.

“The whole experience got me thinking about a bartering and swapping program, and that eventually evolved into Retykle,” she said.

Using a consignment model, the site gives sellers between 50 and 55 per cent of the resale price, either in cash or credit that can be used on the site. Retykle does all the grunt work, including free pickups, sorting and storage, as well as pricing, which ranges anywhere between 50 and 90 per cent off the retail price.

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