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    Published on: March 1, 2006

    The Daily Telegraph in the UK reports that Tesco has a new personal trainer service – rotating personal trainers and physical fitness experts through its stores as a way of providing consumers with health and lifestyle tips.
    KC's View:
    Smart idea…it sort of reminds us of what Ukrops did by getting a local gym to build a facility on a mezzanine overlooking one of its newest stores. It is a great way of integrating healthy eating with exercise…

    US retailers, take note. Because this is the kind of innovative thinking you’re going to have to compete with once Tesco comes to US shores next year.

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    Bankrupt supermarket chain Winn-Dixie said yesterday that as part of its reorganization process it will sell or close 35 stores, which it says will enhance its “financial performance and help position it for profitability.”

    The company currently operates 585 stores, having already sold off more than 100 stores since it went into bankruptcy. This new round will bring the company down to 550 units.

    Winn-Dixie President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Lynch said, "Over the past several months, we have thoroughly reviewed our store base in an effort to ensure Winn-Dixie is able to emerge from Chapter 11 as a healthier and more competitive company. We have now completed this review and identified 35 stores to be sold or closed because they do not meet our financial requirements going forward. We believe the 550 stores in our continuing footprint will provide us with the most solid possible foundation on which to build a more profitable future for Winn-Dixie. At this time, we do not expect any other store closings as part of our Chapter 11 reorganization process."
    KC's View:
    Not to oversimplify, but it isn’t the number of stores that Winn-Dixie operates that will determine its future. It is how Winn-Dixie makes those stores compelling and relevant and differentiated…

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    Washington Post columnist Sally Squires writes about a new demographic group: flexitarians.

    Being a flexitarian means eating 80 percent of your daily calories from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans and 20 percent from lean meat, fish and poultry,” Squires writes. It gives them the medical and psychological benefits of being a vegetarian without all that annoying self-discipline – you get to cheat.

    The thing is, Squires writes, “a new review of the health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets by Oxford University researchers suggests that flexitarians could be as healthy as vegetarians. While vegetarians and vegans -- those who eat no animal products -- have a slight edge in lower body weight and heart disease risk, the researchers found little difference in other major causes of death between health-conscious non-vegetarians and their vegetarian counterparts.”
    KC's View:
    There’s something so civilized about being a flexitarian when it comes to dietary habits. The word also could apply to so many other areas – religion, politics, whatever.

    We always thought of ourselves as being open-minded. But now, we’re going to describe ourselves as being a flexitarian….except when it comes to food.

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    A picture or, more precisely, an image! Vestcom International and Gladson Interactive recently joined forces, promoting the addition of images to Vestcom-generated shelf strips, tags and shelf signs. Image addition means retailers utilizing either Gladson or Vestcom’s shelf strips, tags or signs can expect to experience:

    • Faster re-stocking times;
    • Elimination of mis-orders, face-overs and missing products;
    • Reduction in lost sales due to out of stocks;
    • Consumer identification of missing out of stock products;
    • Increased display sales by at least 11%;
    • Maintenance of planogram integrity;
    • More English-as-a-second-language consumers and employees.

    Vestcom and Gladson is a compelling combination.

    For more information please email:
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that in its effort to expand its supercenter presence in new markets, “Wal-Mart now operates roughly 20 multilevel stores, many of them housed in buildings vacated by other retailers. Over the next five years, the company is planning to open an additional 50 to 60 on lots one-third the size of its traditional 25 acre swaths.”

    While the WSJ concedes that this is just a fraction of the Wal-Mart fleet, “they represent a significant shift for a company that has long thrived by sticking to a cookie-cutter store format designed to minimize costs and coax the most sales out of every single square foot.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that nine Coca-Cola bottlers have joined a lawsuit against the soft drink giant, trying to prevent the manufacturer from distributing its PowerAde drink to Wal-Mart through the retailer’s warehouses.

    About 50 bottlers filed the original suit last month, saying that warehouse delivery of PowerAde – as opposed to direct store delivery (DSD) – violates existing contracts.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    • Published reports say that Dutch supermarkets are dealing with a new problem – “massive” numbers of empty Coke bottles that are being across the border from Belgium and returned to the stores for a deposit. The problem is that the Netherlands does not have a bottle deposit law, but the bottles in the Netherlands and Belgium are identical – and crafty consumers are taking advantage of the situation.

    • Canada-based c-store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard continued its movement in the US, announcing that it is acquiring 40 stores in the Indianapolis region worth $160 million in annual sales from Shell Oil Products Inc.

    • Burger King has introduced a new value menu with 10 items all priced at $1.39 or less, which it hopes will attract cost-conscious consumers. The move also makes Burger King more competitive with Wendy’s and McDonald’s, each of which has a value menu.

    • The Chicago Tribune reports that McDonald’s plans a national roll out of what it describes as a stronger, richer, premium cup of coffee that will come in a newly designed cup - and that it believes will help it build its breakfast business and compete more effectively against Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    • BJ's Wholesale Club reported fourth quarter net income of $51.6 million, compared to net income of $47.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2004. Revenue rose five percent to $2.1 billion from $2.01 billion a year ago, with same-store sales up 1.7 percent.

    For the just-ended fiscal year, BJ’s said its net income was $128.5 million, compared to $114.4 million a year ago. Annual sales were up 7.8 percent to $7.8 billion, with same-store sales up 3.6 percent.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 1, 2006

    On the subject of Kroger deciding to centralize grocery procurement for its Pacific Northwest Fred Meyer stores at its Ohio buying offices, one MNB user observed:

    This move to purchasing centralization by Kroger is just the first Division of several planned. Obviously, Kroger has not paid attention to the trials and tribulations of Safeway (who, by the way, has still not figured it out ). If you’re buying and selling Tide, central buying and promotion planning is probably OK. But customers are not shopping at your store just for Tide…you need to appeal to the local customers with, as you’ve pointed out many times, a special something or “hook”, be it product or service or both. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and various other top-notch regional companies understand how it works. The Krogers of this world will never understand…

    This decision by Kroger would appear, on the face of it, to be more about efficiency than effectiveness…though we imagine the folks at Kroger would disagree with that assessment.

    We’ll see…

    MNB reported yesterday that IGA has asked Drayton McLane to replace Ron Marshall as head of the CEO search committee, and also has decided that Dr. Thomas Haggai will remain in charge of IGA's international operations while the company looks for someone to run the US business.

    One MNB user reacted:

    It is no surprise that Marshall and the search group did not find a number 2 person for Dr Haggai because it was the wrong approach to what needs to be done. IGA is far too large with many different cultures worldwide. Therefore the real solution is split the USA from the International is part of the answer. Another part is it must be a true split in that each should have a Chairman / CEO and these two executives reporting to their own Board of Directors. A new leader for USA needs to make major changes in how IGA goes to market and that cannot be done as it is currently structured.

    The person to take this leadership should have experience in dealing with independent retailers, wholesalers and the vendor community. That will probably mean someone "older" that has earned integrity in business. There are some very good leaders who could do this job and the search group just needs to ask the right questions of former executives of retail, wholesale and vendors to get a good list of names.

    We wrote yesterday about how analysts are assessing the Tesco threat in the US, and MNB user Anthony Ruback responded:

    Threat??? What threat??? This is an opportunity from which the US shopper (and those retailers who are sufficiently agile) will undoubtedly benefit. When the UK market was similarly shaken by Wal-Mart's entry, the domestic industry responded with a blend of lower prices, better service, more innovation, etc. Sure it was painful for some, but look at Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer now compared with a few years ago. Why not the same for our American cousins? MNB frequently waxes lyrical about the Tesco offer and operation - for US retailers to compete with Tesco's focus on the shopper / customer, this can only be good news for suppliers, retailers, shoppers (and inevitably consultants!)

    We agree. Sometimes being threatened is a good thing. Nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of an execution.

    On the subject of Stop & Shop CEO Marc Smith “retiring” from the company at age 52, one MNB user wrote:

    Back in 1984 I had a short but unsatisfactory dealing with...Royal Ahold. The then president of the division I was dealing with was an honorable man and an excellent grocer, but when he sided with me on a matter of principle he left the company under fire, primarily due to the inability of (corporate executives) to tell any sort of the truth. It's no wonder they have gotten themselves into the mess they have, and certainly have no sympathy from me….

    Smith should be given a medal for putting up with these
    people for 20 years.

    And MNB user David Livingston wrote:

    Regardless if he was fired or he quit, can you blame him if he didn't want to hang around? Poor morale, declining sales, accounting scandals, depressed stock price, etc. Most of these CEOs are wealthy beyond their dreams and they usually walk away with millions. It reminds me of the game "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Should he walk away now with a fortune or risk sticking around and possibly losing everything? Do the math.

    Regardless of the financial package, we have to say – and we have some experience with this – that quitting is always better than being fired or laid off.

    We had a story yesterday about a proposed Florida law that would allow people to bring their dogs into restaurants with outdoor seating areas; our comment was that if people want to eat with their pets, they should stay home.

    Not everyone agreed.

    One MNB user wrote:

    At times I have felt the same way about small children. People that want to eat with them should stay at home! There is nothing wrong with pets in outside eating areas. I take my dog with me quite often to such restaurants. He adds to my enjoyment of the day.

    MNB user Clayton R. Hoerauf wrote:

    If the dog is well behaved, bring it along!

    But some folks agreed with us about the dog law. One MNB user wrote:

    As a true dog-lover myself, I couldn’t agree more with you. My two dogs are frequently with me when I’m not working, but restaurants? I don’t think so. I don’t want to have to threaten my dogs that we’ll have to leave the restaurant if they bark too loud, fight with each other, or eat off of the table. I guess it all comes down to the fact that I don’t want to emulate “those parents” who totally disregard other diners when their children scream, fight with each other, or eat off of the table.

    By the way, to be completely honest here, we also think that people should leave their children home if they can’t behave in restaurants. It’s always been our feeling that badly behaved children in restaurants and stores are more a reflection of indulgent parents than anything else. But that’s another story…

    Another MNB user wrote:

    No way, no how should a dog or any other animal to join their master in a restaurant. Only exception, Seeing Eye Dog. It's not sanitary, it's asking for problems w/law suits for people getting bit and what happens if the animal wants to "mark it's territory". Doesn't make sense. Even though I also enjoy dogs, there is a large amount of people out there that do not care for dogs or other animals and they shouldn't be put at a disadvantage when they are trying to enjoy a meal.

    MNB user Peggy Long wrote:

    I agree! We have a dog that is like a child to us and we love her dearly ... but she does not belong in restaurants regardless of outdoor seating or not. Go to a park and have a picnic or to the beach/lake if you want to dine with your dog. Hey, better yet, go camping and really spend some quality time with your dog ... or maybe a bird hunt with the guide providing lunch?

    When last I was in France, it was very popular to see folks sitting outside at an eating establishment with their dogs under the table. Although they were well behaved, for the most part, they are dogs and they needed attention by their owners and were a distraction to other patrons. If you must eat in public establishments with your pet ... go to Starbucks, sit outside, tether your pet and chill.

    And another MNB user wrote:

    As a guide dog puppy raiser, part of our training is teaching the dog how to behave and function in restaurants. Our dogs can only have access to these public places when they are properly attired in their respective jackets or harness. Other dogs are often the most challenging distractions for service dogs. To have regular dogs in this environment would pose an added distraction and make it more difficult for service dogs to perform to their highest potential. Service dogs, especially for the blind, provide an invaluable gift of mobility and access for people who have a need for their dog to be in that restaurant, not just a desire for canine companionship.

    I think that these service dogs should remain the exception to in such a public place where hygiene and food safety is valid concern. Even a service dog is still subject to bad behavior and can be unpredictable. You have to be vigilant with a dog and I don’t think that the general public would be as vigilant as someone who is working with a service dog.

    By the way, if you’re looking to do something really rewarding, you should look into raising a guiding eye dog. We did it, and when the dog was hooked up with a blind person, we know for a fact that she saved the woman’s life several times in just the first few months.

    Okay, we’re not going to post all the emails we got yesterday about the fact that we’ve never seen “A Christmas Story.”

    There were well over 50.

    Which is why we love this job so much.

    But we are going to buy – not rent – the movie. And we’re not going to wait until next Christmas to watch it.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 1, 2006

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    KC's View: