retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Danbury News Times reports that Wakefern Food Corp., the New Jersey-based retail cooperative that bought 11 Shaw’s stores in Connecticut, picked up two new members to operate three of them.

According to the story, “Joseph Family Markets LLC will operate the old Shaw's in Canton and West Hartford, and Miller Farms Family Markets will operate the Enfield Shaw's.”

• In western New York, the Post-Standard reports that Penn Traffic Co. - just acquired by Tops Markets - lost $10.5 million in January prior to the deal closing, creating issues that could force Tops to close more than the four stores that it has said it will shutter.

Tops bought Penn Traffic's store assets for more than $85 million after the company entered its third bankruptcy last November.

• In Texas, the American-Statesman reports that Whole Foods has “kicked off its annual fundraising drive to benefit its microlending foundation, which has loaned millions of dollars, a few at a time, to people in developing countries around the world.

“One of the natural foods grocer's most distinctive initiatives, the Whole Planet Foundation supports organizations that make small loans to people in poor countries, helping them to start or expand home-based businesses. Based on the concept of microloans, the foundation has distributed more than $10.6 million to programs in 18 countries since its debut in 2005.”

Whole Foods says that the average loan is $185 - which does not sound like a lot of money, but can have an enormous impact around the world. More than 330,000 people have been assisted by the microlending program, the company says.

• CKE Restaurants, parent company to the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee chains, reportedly will be acquired by the Thomas H. Lee Partners private equity group for almost $1 billion, including the assumption of $309 million in debt. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010.

• The Dallas Morning News reports that Pizza Hut seems to have turned around its lagging fortunes with a “$10 for any pizza” deal that began as a limited time offer but actually has no end-date. Company officials tell the paper that the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 have been “much stronger,” and that they consider it a “substantial recovery” from the chain’s previous problems.
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