Editor's choice: the highlights on just-food this week

By Dean Best | 12 March 2012

The intensely competitive nature of the UK food retail sector came to the fore this week, with Tesco outlining how it believes it can revitalise stagnant sales, Morrisons underlining its plans to develop its fresh food offer and Waitrose insisting it will continue to be fight hard on price. The end of the week also saw the announcement that a consortium led by Iceland Foods chief executive Malcolm Walker had acquired the UK frozen foods retailer. Across the Channel, Carrefour confirmed its profits slumped in 2011 and said it would cut capital expenditure this year. And Dairy Crest, the UK's largest dairy processor, said it was mulling whether to sell its French unit St Hubert. Click on the headlines for more.

Comment: Tesco's new customer focus will put squeeze on rivals
In its battle against lacklustre domestic sales trends, UK retail giant Tesco has launched an investment programme that, it hopes, will return it to its position as kingpin of the UK retail scene.

Talking shop: Morrisons prepares for fresh food battle
Morrisons may be mulling expansion into the world of online and convenience retailing but, with Tesco looking to fresh food to revitalise sales, the UK's fourth-largest supermarket group is also turning to its founding principles to drive growth, writes Katy Askew.

Comment: Well-regarded Waitrose still needs to adapt
Waitrose, the upmarket UK retailer, has proved one of the success stories of the downturn and, despite a fall in profits in 2011, industry watchers remain upbeat about its performance, strategy and prospects. But, Dean Best writes, there are areas in which Waitrose still needs to improve.

UK: Walker-led consortium buys Iceland Foods
A consortium led by Iceland Foods founder and chief executive Malcolm Walker has purchased the UK frozen food retailer.

Carrefour full-year results - what the analysts say
Europe's largest retailer Carrefour reported a 14% fall in annual profits and said it would cut spending capex this year. Here is a flavour of what leading retail analysts said about Carrefour's recent performance.

In the spotlight - Likely sale of Dairy Crest's "crown jewels" surprises City
The news that Dairy Crest is mulling the future of St Hubert, its branded spreads business in France, has garnered a mixed reaction from the City.

Street talk: Shopper recession impacts food prices
Food inflation has been a common feature of markets in Europe and the US in recent months. SymphonyIRI vice president of consulting Rod Street says rising prices have led consumers to shop around but he also notes suppliers have reacted, with the difference in price between branded and own-label products narrowing.

Sustainability Watch - big business in Fairtrade
As Fairtrade Fortnight draws to a close, Ben Cooper examines whether the advent of big business has transformed more than just Fairtrade's market share.

US: Bankers hawk Sara Lee's meat business
Investment banks are approaching rivals of Sara Lee, including Smithfield Foods, to see what interest there is in its US meats business, which is set to be spun off from the main group later this year.

AUS: Mars to make job cuts in Ballarat streamlining
Global confectionery giant Mars Inc has insisted job cuts at a site in Australia were needed to "secure the long-term future" of the facility.

Sectors: Baby food, Bakery, Canned food, Cereal, Chilled foods, Commodities & ingredients, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Dried foods, Financials, Fresh produce, Frozen, Ice cream, Meat & poultry, Mergers & acquisitions, Multichannel, Natural & organic, Private label, Retail, Seafood, Snacks, Sustainability & the environment, World foods

Companies: Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, Carrefour, Iceland Foods, Dairy Crest, Sara Lee, Smithfield Foods, Mars Inc

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