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May 17, 2022

Filings buzz: tracking industrial automation mentions in retail

We've analysed companies' annual reports and other filings to see which key issues are receiving the most attention.

By Data Journalism Team

Mentions of industrial automation within the filings of companies in the retail sector were 90% higher during 2021 than in 2016, according to the latest analysis of data from GlobalData.

When retail companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Industrial automation is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether industrial automation is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of retail companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned industrial automation at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 56% compared to 49% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to industrial automation.

Of the 10 biggest employers in the retail sector, Walmart was the company which referred to industrial automation the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 64 industrial automation-related sentences in the United States-based company's filings - 0.6% of all sentences. Magnit mentioned industrial automation the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.3% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high industrial automation mentions included Ahold Delhaize, Tesco and JD.

Across all retail companies the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on industrial automation came from Shoprite. Of the document's 1,173 sentences, seven (0.6%) referred to industrial automation.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on industrial automation and how important the issue is considered within the retail sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning industrial automation more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into industrial automation have been successes or failures.

In the last quarter, retail companies based in South America were most likely to mention industrial automation with 0.23% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in Asia mentioned industrial automation in just 0.04% of sentences.

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