News Briefs


Amazon Acquires iRobot

iRobot Roomba

Amazon and iRobot have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Amazon will acquire consumer robot company iRobot.

“We know that saving time matters, and chores take precious time that can be better spent doing something that customers love,” said Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices. “Over many years, the iRobot team has proven its ability to reinvent how people clean with products that are incredibly practical and inventive — from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home, to automatically emptying the collection bin. Customers love iRobot products — and I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent in ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.”

“Since we started iRobot, our team has been on a mission to create innovative, practical products that make customers’ lives easier, leading to inventions like the Roomba and iRobot OS,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot, who will remain CEO after the completion of the transaction. “Amazon shares our passion for building thoughtful innovations that empower people to do more at home, and I cannot think of a better place for our team to continue our mission. I’m hugely excited to be a part of Amazon and to see what we can build together for customers in the years ahead.”

Amazon will acquire iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.7 billion, including iRobot’s net debt. Completion is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by iRobot’s shareholders and regulatory approvals.

Revenue for iRobot's second quarter of 2022 was $255.4 million, compared with last year's $365.6 million. Revenue for the first half of 2022 was $547.3 million versus $668.9 million in the first half of 2021.

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Walmart Doubles Down on Tech With Latest Acquisition

Walmart to Open Biggest Grocery Distribution Center in Texas

Walmart Inc. is acquiring technology company Volt Systems, which provides suppliers with on-demand visibility into merchandising resources, along with store-level data, actionable analytics and shelf intelligence. Volt’s insights allow suppliers to plan, forecast and optimize product assortment, giving customers a more seamless shopping experience with less friction due to out-of-stocks. 

Volt’s suite of technology solutions includes Omnichannel Engagement, Vendor Relationship Management and Product Tracking. Walmart will acquire Volt outright, including the company, talent, technology and customer agreements.

“The deal affirms Walmart’s continued investment in technology and innovation that enables us to better anticipate customer demand,” the retailer said.

Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


CVS Health Purchases Renewable Energy

CVS Health to Purchase Renewable Energy

To help source its power supply from solar energy, CVS Health has revealed a 15-year agreement with Constellation Energy Corp. to purchase clean, renewable energy equivalent to the energy use of 309 CVS Health locations in Illinois and Ohio.

“Our agreement with Constellation is an important step toward achieving our goal of sourcing 50% renewable energy by 2040,” said CVS Health Corporate Social Responsibility SVP Sheryl Burke. “Investments in renewable energy enable us to help create a more sustainable world for all of us today and for generations to come.”

Through this agreement, CVS Health will receive renewable energy and renewable energy certificates equal to a 42-megawatt share of the Mammoth Central solar facility, the third and final phase of Doral Renewables’ Mammoth Solar project located in Indiana. With an estimated capacity of 1.3 gigawatts, Mammoth Solar will be one of the country’s largest solar farms upon completion. CVS Health will use the Constellation Offsite Renewables (CORe) retail power product to facilitate its renewable energy transaction. This agreement will help CVS Health reduce its carbon footprint by more than 38,000 metric tons each year. This is the equivalent emissions of nearly 7,400 homes’ electricity use in one year, according to U.S. EPA estimates.

“These long-term sustainability commitments are essential to increasing the amount of clean energy on the grid and helping solve the climate crisis,” said Jim McHugh, chief commercial officer at Baltimore-based Constellation.

Investing in renewable energy is part of CVS Health’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact. The company continues to reduce resource consumption across its operations through lighting and transportation upgrades, optimizing digital solutions to reduce paper, alternatives to single-use bags, and offering products that are good for customers and the environment.

With its CVS Pharmacy subsidiary operating almost 10,000 locations nationwide, Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health is No. 7 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


KeHE Expands Connect Direct Program Network

KeHE Connect Direct Teaser

KeHE has expanded the network of its new KeHE Connect Direct program to distributor’s Chino, Calif., distribution center.

Introduced in June 2022, the program offers more assortment options for dry, refrigerated and frozen items, with no order minimums to its retail partners. KeHE Connect Direct offers retailers greater flexibility when ordering through KeHE, offering products not available at their home distribution center and items in smaller quantities, such as eaches, case or cut case. Additionally, the program features fast delivery times, with orders shipped in just one to three days in the contiguous U.S. 

The program’s expansion means that KeHE Connect Direct is now available to its West Coast retail partners for the first time. 

Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE is the largest pure-play distributor of natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products to more than 30,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers, and other specialty product retailers throughout North America. A Certified B Corporation, the company has more than 6,800 employee-owners. 


Jobs Increased in July Amid Drop in Unemployment

What Walmart's Q2 Means for Grocery

An unexpectedly strong July jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is showing good news for the retail trade. Overall, the industry gained more than 22,000 jobs during the month, with job gains of more than 9,000 in food and beverage stores and more than 8,000 in general merchandise stores.

The economy added a total of 528,000 jobs in July, with the unemployment rate decreasing to 3.5%. The number of unemployed people was down to 5.7 million, putting both measures at pre-pandemic levels not seen since February 2020.

Job growth was led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care, with food services and drinking places adding more than 74,000 jobs. 

[Read more: "Essential Workers Still Impacted by COVID-19"]

The transportation and warehousing industries added 21,000 jobs in July, and support activities for transportation saw 6,000 additional jobs for the reporting period. Employment in the industries remains 745,000 above February 2020 pre-pandemic levels.

Some 5.9 million Americans are currently seeking employment, a number that has not changed much since last month, and remains above the February 2020 level of 5 million. For those employed, average hourly earnings went up by $0.15, or 0.5%, to $32.27. This marks a 5.2% increase in average hourly earnings over the past 12 months.


FreshDirect Teams With BAM Strategy on New Loyalty Program

FreshDirect Bag Teaser

Following a competitive review by its marketing team, e-grocer FreshDirect has formed a strategic partnership with digital agency BAM Strategy to create a new loyalty program.

Under the partnership, BAM Strategy will be responsible for creating and launching a best-in-class redesigned loyalty program for FreshDirect customers. This will include conducting dynamic customer research to aid content and analytics strategy, as well as branding for the program. BAM Strategy will also audit FreshDirect’s current programs to better understand where there may be opportunities to expand into loyalty for customers.

“We have been giving our customers a premium shopping experience for 20 years, and as we look to the future, I am excited to work with BAM Strategy to take our engagement with our shoppers to a new level,” said John MacDonald, chief marketing officer at Bronx, N.Y.-based FreshDirect. “BAM is a key partner in helping us develop a new robust value platform which will enable more insightful, rewarding and personal connections for the lives our customers lead.”

The agency is now revamping the program, which is expected to launch in early 2023.

“We all know that groceries are essential to our daily lives, but in the last two-plus years, we learned that access to and delivery of those deliveries are more important than ever,” noted Xavier Picquerey, managing director of Montreal-based BAM Strategy. “When FreshDirect first came to us with this opportunity, we knew it was the right fit because we are committed to serving communities, and loyalty programs ultimately do just that.”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, FreshDirect delivers directly to customers across seven states, including the New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas. In January 2021, the company was acquired by Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, whose other U.S brands include Stop & Shop, Peapod, Giant, Food Lion and Hannaford. Ahold Delhaize USA operates more than 2,000 stores in 23 states and is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America