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    Published on: March 9, 2005


    • Bloomberg reports that employees at a Wal-Mart store in Windsor, Ontario, have voted not to unionize, even though in 1997 employees at the same store voted to make that unit the first Wal-Mart outlet in North America to win union certification.

      However, that vote eight years ago did not result in a collective bargaining agreement and the union eventually was decertified. This time around, certification was not even achieved.

      The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) blamed the defeat on worker intimidation and harassment, and said it might consider asking for a second certification vote.


    • The Dallas Morning News reports that Wal-Mart, which used to partner with other companies when it would open gas stations at its locations, now is building its own gas stations. Four such operations are open at Sam’s Club stores in Virginia and Missouri.


    • The Associated Press reports that “Wal-Mart and other retailers are lobbying Congress to extend the workday for truckers to 16 hours, something labor unions and safety advocates say would make roadways more dangerous for all drivers.”

      Current rules say truck drivers have to limit themselves to 14-hour workdays, with only 11 hours of consecutive driving permitted.


    • Wal-Mart announced that its Sam’s Club membership warehouse division will begin offering members discounts on healthcare coverage, with discounts as much as 50 percent on procedures such as laser eye surgery and dental care, as well as discounts on physician visits.

      The service is being offered in concert with UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s second biggest health insurer.

      Sam's Club Plus Members can enroll in the healthcare program for free, and other members will pay a nominal fee to join.

    KC's View:
    The irony of this, considering all the criticism of Wal-Mart not providing sufficient health care for its employees, is just delicious.

    Then again, maybe this is just the first step in the Wal-Martization of health care in this country.

    Published on: March 9, 2005

    Roundy’s CEO Robert Mariano tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the company is “looking at expansion opportunities, particularly in Wisconsin and Minnesota.”

    However, Mariano also says that Roundy’s is not currently in discussion with Safeway about a possible acquisition of Dominick’s.
    KC's View:
    We think you can parse that sentence a lot of ways. “Not currently” could mean a lot of things…and none of them would mean “no way.”

    Published on: March 9, 2005

    USA Today reports in glowing terms on the new, 80,000 square foot Whole Foods flagship store in Austin, Texas:

      “You don't need a ticket to enter the pulsating, almost-as-big-as-a-Wal-Mart concept store that opened six days ago adjacent to its new headquarters here,” the paper reports. “But you do need to wipe clean all preconceptions about grocery shopping as drudgery. Call it a better-for-you food bazaar on organic steroids. Or the grocery equivalent of Disney World for food junkies.

      “Whatever you call it, Whole Foods executives believe that the ideas in the store — which is broken up into enticing, food-centric lands, à la Disney — could have the kind of industry-shaking impact on grocery shopping that Starbucks has had on coffee drinking. Whole Foods could help transform grocery shopping into interactive theater.”

    Company founder John Mackey tells the paper that "Whole Foods thinks shopping should be fun. With this store, we're pioneering a new lifestyle that synthesizes health and pleasure. We don't see a contradiction."

    KC’s View: It is interesting that Whole Foods, already possessing differential advantages compared to other foods chains by nature of the products it sells, continues to look for new ways to create an image that defines it differently in the minds of shoppers.
    KC's View:
    It is interesting that Whole Foods, already possessing differential advantages compared to other foods chains by nature of the products it sells, continues to look for new ways to create an image that defines it differently in the minds of shoppers.

    “Compete is a verb.”

    A lesson that should be taken seriously by all retailers.

    Published on: March 9, 2005

    McDonald’s Corp. has announced a new healthy living initiative that will, on a worldwide basis, endeavor to teach people how to eat right and get enough exercise.

    The slogan: "It's what I eat and what I do ... I'm lovin' it"

    The campaign will be featured on new packaging, new ads, and on the company’s website.
    KC's View:
    This is an example of negative publicity and threatened lawsuits having a positive effect…though we remain a little cynical about Mickey D’s motivations in this matter.

    Published on: March 9, 2005

    The London Free Press reports that members of R-CALF - the U.S. ranchers' group that got a federal judge to grant a temporary injunction blocking the opening of the US border to Canadian cattle younger than 30 months because of mad cow disease concerns – actually bought some cheap cows in Canada after the ban was imposed.

    "I don't see anything ironic about it," R-Calf president Leo McDonnell told the paper. "I didn't see it as a big deal.”
    KC's View:
    The big deal is that you are tone-deaf.

    Sounds more like R-Calf members were exploiting the mad cow issues as opposed to maintaining an ethically pure stance on the matter.

    Published on: March 9, 2005


    • Safeway will expand its online grocery service to the Phoenix market, the first time it has moved beyond the west coast.

      Safeway.com, which is a joint venture with Tesco, has been available in Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, Washington; and in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, California, as well as in San Diego and Los Angeles through Vons.com.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 9, 2005


    • Supervalu reportedly has acquired two Winn-Dixie stores, in Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia, and plans to convert them to its Farm Fresh format.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 9, 2005


    • Kroger Co. reported that its total sales for the fourth quarter of 2004 increased 5.1 percent to $13.7 billion. Kroger also reported a net loss of $675.9 million, for the fourth quarter.

      For the full year, Kroger’s sales increased 4.9 percent to $56.4 billion. Kroger reported a net loss of $128.0 million, down from earnings of $314.6 million.


    • Rite Aid said that its February total sales rose 0.1 percent to $1.63 billion, with same-store sales for the period up 0.6 percent.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 9, 2005

    …will return.
    KC's View: