retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Houston Business Journal reports that Kroger “is planning to open its two largest stores in Texas — both first-of-their-kind prototypes for a new concept — just 10 miles apart in the far-flung Houston suburbs.” The Kroger Marketplace store in Richmond is slated to open in November, while the Rosenberg unit will open in December.

According to the story, “Both Kroger Marketplace stores will feature a Fred Meyer Jewelers’ store as well as a large home furnishing section with Ashley Furniture. The stores will also offer grocery and deli products, a large floral section, gourmet and chef prepared foods, a wine shop with a wine steward, a drive-thru pharmacy and a Kitchenplace area with upscale kitchenware and place settings.”

• Supervalu announced that its Design Services Group (DSG) subsidiary is changing its name, effective today, to Store Design Services.

“As we thought about our image and our position in the industry, the name Store Design Services just made sense,” said Edward Parker, director of sales & marketing. “It more accurately describes what we do, and helps us communicate the value of integrating all of our services into one package.

• In the UK, the Mail reports that Aldi plans to open as many as 1,000 stores in Europe next year, with “many” of them in Britain.

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Unilever has begun testing “a new technology that lets consumers redeem digital coupons by having a supermarket cashier scan their cellphones. The test, being conducted at a ShopRite store in Hillsborough, N.J., will include discount offers for some of the Anglo-Dutch packaged goods company's most popular brands, including Breyers ice cream, Dove soap, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Lipton tea … To get the coupons, customers must visit the Web site Samplesaint.com, from which they can transmit the Unilever discount offers to an Internet-enabled cellphone. At checkout, the cashier scans the bar code on the phone's screen, redeeming the coupon and deleting it from the phone.”

KC's View: