retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reported yesterday that Belgium-based Delhaize Group and its Food Lion subsidiary announced yesterday that they have signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire “a substantial majority” of the assets owned by bankrupt Bi-Lo LLC, for $425 million. However, Bi-Lo’s assets remain up for bid, and another company could move in and top Delhaize’s offer. Bi-Lo is currently owned by Lone Star Funds, a private equity group; it filed for bankruptcy last March.

Differing reactions to this story came from the MNB community…

One MNB user wrote:

I used to work for Bi-Lo and Food Lion was always our competitor. It is a sad day when you fall to your “enemy”. Additionally, everyone at headquarters will lose their job and this will be a blow to the local economy. I am not thrilled about Food Lion buying Bi-Lo for those reasons. I have no skin in the game as I now sell to both Bi-Lo and Food Lion. C&S has a bid in as well, but are not publically traded and do not have to announce that they have an intent to purchase. If C&S purchases Bi-Lo, life will go on as before for most of Bi-Lo’s employees.

Another MNB user wrote:

You expressed surprise at reports that some at Bi-Lo weren't happy with the proposed Delhaize purchase. According to the story (10/6) in the Greenville (SC) News, Delhaize "said in the filing it didn't anticipate offering jobs to any of Bi-Lo's corporate employees." Don't you imagine that several hundred people in Bi-Lo's offices would prefer a solution that would allow them to keep their jobs?

For the record…not all the dismay came from headquarters. Presumably Food Lion would keep a lot of the store personnel.

MNB user Ron Lunde wrote:

The Bi-Lo team is very fortunate that Rick Anicetti and his team are interested in acquiring them. They know the market and they know retailing. Should make for a very formidable market presence.

MNB took note yesterday of a Crain’s Chicago Business report on how discount grocer Aldi is “mounting an aggressive expansion in Chicago,” posing a threat to Supervalu-owned Jewel. One of the things noted in the story was how Jewel says that it has slashed prices up to 20 percent this year in order to remain competitive.

I commented:

This made me think about an email that I posted last week here on MNB, from a supplier to Supervalu-owned Albertsons in Southern California, who wrote, “The most recent edict to Albertsons-SoCal from the corporate headquarters at Supervalu is 75% pass through of all promotional allowances, no exceptions. Prices wall to wall jumped up while advertising ‘1000’s of prices reduced!’ from banners hanging across the store fronts.” So I guess the question that needs to be asked – and while I don't know what the answer is, I suspect somewhere out there does – is whether Jewel has really cut prices…or if it is just saying so.

One MNB user, who described himself as a longtime Jewel employee (I’m not using his name or position for reasons that will be evident), wrote:

Yes they have cut prices to get customers in the stores and that's a good thing, the only problem is they also cut the staff in the entire store. You would think they would have the staff on hand to make sure the customers never wait. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

So even if the customers shop at Jewel there is no one to wait on them. So I am agreeing with the price cuts but If you have to stand in long lines to buy something either at the service shops or the checkouts, why not go to Aldi's or some other discount store where the prices are even cheaper to make it worth your while for the inconvenience? If you have to shop and wait choose the best prices. The only thing Jewel had going for it is customer service. We will do anything for our customers. That is, if they wait for us to wait on them.

Me personally? There is nothing Jewel sells that's worth my time to stand in line for more than 10 minutes to buy a pound of bologna. and another 10 min or more to check out.

Hope they’re paying attention at HQ.

And finally, responding to the closure of the print version of Gourmet, one MNB user wrote:

I consider myself a “foodie” and as such subscribe to way too many food magazines. I used to subscribe to Gourmet, but I found their focus to wander from the kitchen to the restaurant and travel. Food and Wine and Bon Apetit continue to meet my thirst for new flavors and cooking recipes, so I just dropped Gourmet. It became irrelevant to me. Conde Nast can keep it on-line for the recipes. The Gourmet cookbook that came out several years ago remains a favorite of mine. It is a compilation of the magazine’s recipes and is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn to cook better. But it is still easier to go to the web and search for recipes and information. For us older guys, you can zoom the text to the size you need on the PC whereas a cookbook is still nestled with fine print that require reading glasses.

“Us older guys?”

KC's View: