China has once again been on the retail sector’s lips this week. Japanese retailer Seven & I Holdings announced plans to open 300 stores in Shanghai, while Spar International boss Dr Gordon Campbell told the World Retail Congress in Barcelona, that the company plans to treble the number of its stores in the country. Wal-Mart is continuing its trial of three convenience stores in southern China with plans to expand if successful. Elsewhere, Kraft Foods posted a solid set of first-quarter results, while Sara Lee had to adjust its earnings outlook on a drop in profits. These are the top stories on just-food this week.

US: Kraft Q1 profits boost shares
Shares in Kraft Foods jumped by more than 6% this morning after the US food giant posted a rise in first-quarter profits. Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld hailed “a very solid start” to the year at Kraft, which posted a 10% increase in net earnings for the three months to the end of March.

NETHERLANDS: Wessanen eyes US sale to cut debts
Wessanen, the Dutch food group, has told just-food that a sale of its North American operations would help the business to pay down rising debts and grow in Europe. The company, which last month announced it was considering the future of its businesses across the Atlantic, revealed yesterday (5 May) that it exceeded a debt covenant during the first quarter of the year.

UK/NETHERLANDS: Unilever to “step up” innovation after profit fall
Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever said today (7 May) it will “step up innovation and brand support” after booking a 45% drop in first-quarter profit. The world’s second-largest maker of consumer goods, saw its net income drop to EUR731m (US$973m) for the three months to 31 March from EUR1.34bn in the same quarter of the previous year.

JAPAN/CHINA: Seven & I to open 300 Shanghai stores
Japanese retailer Seven & I Holdings has confirmed plans to open as many as 300 stores in Shanghai over the next five years. Earlier this week, the convenience store chain opened four stores saying it will be competitive in an already very crowded market by offering “unique offerings of hot food and its stores”.

US: Sara Lee adjusts outlook on earnings drop
US food group Sara Lee posted a drop in third-quarter earnings today (7 May) and readjusted its full-year outlook. For the period ended 28 March, the company recorded a net profit of US$165m, down from $211m in the same quarter of the previous year.

US: Exito, Shoprite to stock Safeway own-labels
US retailer Safeway has signed deals to expand the reach of two of its private-label brands in Colombia and South Africa. ShopRite in South Africa and the Exito supermarket chain in Colombia will both stock the O Organics and the Eating Right brands, which currently have a presence in stores in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Chile, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia.

CHINA: Spar boss outlines China assault
Spar International, the Netherlands-based retailer, plans to treble the number of its stores in China “in the next few years”, the company’s managing director said today (7 May). Dr Gordon Campbell told the World Retail Congress in Barcelona that the building of distribution hubs in key Chinese provinces would help Spar grow to become one of the “leading retailers” in the country.

US: Safeway strikes Albertsons, Price Chopper deals
Safeway has struck agreements with Albertsons and Price Chopper that will see the retailers sell selected own-label lines for the US grocery giant. Food and drug retailer Albertsons and family-managed Price Chopper will stock Safeway’s O Organics and the Eating Right brands respectively, the company said today (7 May).

CHINA: Wal-Mart trials Shenzhen convenience stores
US supermarket giant Wal-Mart is trialling three convenience stores in southern China, a spokesperson told just-food today (8 May). The three stores, based in the southern city of Shenzhen, opened in December last year in a bid to “better meet customer’s increasing needs”, the company said.

SPAIN: SOS board to meet after chairman, CEO dismissed
Directors at Grupo SOS, the Spanish owner of Bertolli olive oil, are to meet in the coming days to discuss a loan scandal that has seen its chairman and CEO dismissed from the business. Chairman Jesús Salazar and CEO Jaime Salazar, who are also major shareholders in SOS with a 28% stake, were asked to leave following the revelation that the pair used a loan from the business to buy company shares.