retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Baltimore Sun reports that Ahold-owned Giant Food has closed nine Starbucks outlets in stores it operates in Maryland and Virginia, saying that they were not profitable and showed no signs of becoming profitable. The company already had closed 17 Starbucks kiosks last year, but still has a dozen Starbucks kiosks in other stores.

• The New York Times reports that the “the Obama administration is stepping up pressure on Japan to reopen its market to American beef, in hopes of helping ranchers and meatpackers gain full access to what was once their most lucrative market ... Japan resumed American beef imports in 2006, but restricted them to meat from cattle 20 months old or younger — a limit that American exporters say has no scientific basis. Japan says older animals are more prone to developing mad cow disease. Japan also bans certain body parts.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Japan to meet with government authorities, hoping to find negotiating room that will allow more US beef to be sold in Japan while addressing that nation’s food safety needs.

• The Arizona Republic reports that “secured and unsecured creditors of Bashas' Inc. continued to be at odds Wednesday as the initial deadline passed for approving the company's plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Secured creditors who earlier opposed the local grocer's reorganization have agreed to support the plan and even provide exit financing that will allow the company to pay immediate obligations as it leaves Chapter 11.

“But the terms the lenders are demanding in exchange for their support have riled the unsecured lenders that were early backers of the original reorganization plan.”

Bashas’, which has secured and unsecured debt of more than $250 million, needs to avoid a contested proceeding which could cause the Basha family to lose control of the company.
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