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• Published reports say that Winn-Dixie CEO Peter Lynch, whose employment contract expires next month, is negotiating an extension with the company’s board of directors so that he can remain with the company until after Winn-Dixie emerges from bankruptcy – which could happen as soon as October 2006. Winn-Dixie filed a reorganization plan with the court overseeing its financial affairs last week, but there seem to remain many questions about how its management will put the chain back on a competitive footing.

The Seattle Times reports this morning that “a price survey of area supermarkets conducted by Puget Sound Consumers' Checkbook reveals that by shopping at Fred Meyer, a family might expect to save $500 to $900 per year compared with shopping at Albertsons or Safeway, and more than $1,400 per year compared with shopping at QFC.”

The story also notes that “the highest prices among stores we surveyed were found at Whole Foods Market and PCC Natural Markets, whose prices were 54 percent and 40 percent higher, respectively, than the average for Albertsons, QFC and Safeway.”

However, the lowest price isn’t everything. The Times also reports that Haggen, which has six stores in the Puget Sound area, “proves that it is possible to get high ratings for quality and still have reasonable prices. The surveyed Haggen store had prices comparable to those of Safeway, but also received high ratings for product and service quality in our most recent customer surveys.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that SABMiller Plc has agreed to acquire for $215 million (US) two so-called “energy beers” owned by McKenzie River Corp.

The two caffeine-laced beers are seen potentially as a way of creating some beer enthusiasm among younger drinkers who imbibe in such products as Red Bull.

• Published reports say that Starbucks plans to open 100 stores in Japan every year for the foreseeable future. The company already has more than 600 stores there, and this new announcement suggests that Starbucks has dealt with any concerns that Japan’s culture was too tea-driven to support the Starbucks brand.
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