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    Published on: May 21, 2010

    Bloomberg reports that Walmart wants to “take over U.S. transportation services from suppliers in an effort to reduce the cost of hauling goods.

    “The company is contacting all manufacturers that provide products to its more than 4,000 U.S. stores and Sam’s Club membership warehouse clubs ... The goal is to take over deliveries in instances where Wal-Mart can do the same job for less and use those savings to reduce prices in stores ... Under the program, Wal-Mart is increasing the use of contractors, as well as its own private fleet of trucks, to pick up products directly from manufacturers and transport the goods to its distribution centers and stores. The retailer currently moves most goods only from its distribution centers to stores.”

    Negotiations won’t be easy. however. According to the story, Walmart is asking for a six percent reduction in the cost of goods based on its calculation of transportation costs, while suppliers apparently calculate the cost of transportation as being closer to three percent.

    “There may be a disconnect when we walk into the room on what that cost might be, says Kelly Abney, Wal-Mart’s vice president of corporate transportation. “But we work collaboratively. As soon as a supplier shares the data, almost always those differences are quickly resolved.”
    KC's View:
    Sure. Resolved in Walmart’s favor. Because many, if not most, manufacturers would say that Walmart’s definition of “collaborative” is a little different than other retailers’.

    I don’t know nearly enough about trucking and product transportation to be able to comment intelligently on this story. (Not that ignorance generally gets in my way...)

    But here is the question I would ask. Is Walmart’s biggest problem right now the cost of goods? Or is it a store environment that somehow is not working for US consumers?

    I’m just askin...

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    Alex Miller, who after a three-decade-long career at Daymon Worldwide became the private label giant’s CEO last February, has resigned, effective immediately.

    Miller, who had been serving as Daymon’s president before being elevated to the CEO job, succeeded Milt Sender, who had been in the job since the company’s founding 40 years ago. Now, Alan Noddle, a member of the Daymon board of directors, will serve as interim president until a replacement can be found, while Sender will serve as chairman and CEO.

     “The company is looking forward to producing great results for our supplier partners and customers and is very optimistic that Private Brands will continue to flourish,” said Sender in a prepared statement.

    Miller’s tenure as CEO has not been entirely smooth. During the last several months, both Safeway and Supervalu had decided to stop working with Daymon and bring their private brand operations in-house.
    KC's View:
    The natural inclination would be to connect the Miller resignation to the Supervalu and Safeway situations, neither of which are mentioned in the press release.  

    However, sources inside Daymon told me yesterday that there was no connection - that Miller had actually been ready to retire several years ago but was was convinced to stay on.

    In addition, sources said, the sense within the company was that the Safeway and Supervalu situations could not have been avoided - that the retailers’ private label initiatives were being led by former CPG executives who were new to their jobs and did not respect Daymon’s skills.

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    Interesting piece in Fortune about an apparent disconnect among the nation’s major retailers. Here’s how the magazine frames the question:

    “It certainly looks like happy days are here again. Many of the nation's biggest retailers, including Saks, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, and Target have released cheery sales reports. April's jobs reports showing a slight increase in the workweek and pay for workers, and more hiring across the board.

    “And then there is Wal-Mart, whose happy yellow face switched to a grimace when it released first quarter sales on Tuesday. Although international growth helped push revenues up 6%, sales at U.S. stores fell 1.4% from the same period last year. And the company had no one to blame but its shoppers. ‘More than ever, our customers are living paycheck to paycheck,’ said Tom Schoewe, the chief financial officer.

    “So who are you supposed to believe? In this case, Bentonville.”

    Fortune makes the case that there are a number of issues that continue to weigh on consumers and the economy, making any bravado or confidence tenuous at best. Among them:

    • The “flash crash,” which reignited concerns about the volatility of the stock market.
    • Greece’s bankruptcy concerns, which seem likely to spread throughout Europe.
    • Continuing high unemployment and under-employment rates.
    • Flat or declining real wage levels.

    Happy days are here again? Not so much...
    KC's View:
    No question that the economy is at best fragile. It took us a long time to get here, it’ll take a long time to dig out...though our culture of immediate gratification makes that almost inconceivable to a lot of people. Still, there are more iPad lines than bread lines ... so all may not be lost.

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    KARE-TV News in Minneapolis reports that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) “is co-sponsoring legislation that would create four or five centers of excellence around the country to investigate suspected food safety problems, like salmonella and E. coli.

    “The centers would be modeled after Minnesota, which requires doctors to report all suspected cases of food-borne illness to the state Department of Health. Each confirmed case is quickly investigated by University of Minnesota graduate students, who are known as ‘Team Diarrhea’ or ‘Team D.‘ They call the patients and ask a series of questions about their symptoms and the food eaten before getting sick ... Their investigative work last year helped solve a major peanut butter salmonella outbreak, which killed nine people nationwide, including three from Minnesota.

    “When cases first arrived in Minnesota, Team D immediately started investigating and noticed all of the cases had one thing in common: peanut butter. They also noticed cases were popping up in long- term care facilities, so the Minnesota Department of Agriculture started looking at invoices to trace the source of the peanut butter. The evidence pointed to King Nut peanut butter, produced by Peanut Corporation of America in Georgia. Investigators tested a large tub of the product and found salmonella.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    The New York Times reports that New York Gov. David Paterson is considering an adjustment in his plan to impose a penny-per-ounce soda tax as a way of closing the state’s budget gap.

    Now, Paterson apparently believes that his proposal would be a lot more palatable if all diet drinks and bottled waters were exempted from a sales tax, which he would paint as a way of addressing childhood obesity issues.

    According to the story, “Under the proposal the Paterson administration is considering, consumers would end up paying an additional penny per ounce on sugared sodas and drinks. In actuality, that sugar tax would be levied not at the cash register but on the beverage bottler, though presumably it would be passed on to consumers. But if consumers bought diet sodas or bottled water, they would avoid that tax and the sales tax as well. The state would reimburse localities for their portion of the lost taxes.”

    The proposal is supported in theory by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but opposed by industry groups that see it as inappropriate social engineering.
    KC's View:
    This strikes me as a lame idea by a lame duck governor.

    I have no problem with a coordinated approach to the obesity issue, and don’t even have problem with paying appropriate taxes that go toward dealing with problems that I think need to be addressed. (If you told me that the tax would be spent on the funding of gym classes and nutrition education in schools with budget issues, I’d see that as acceptable. But that’s not what is being propose here.)

    More and more, this all strikes me as government simply throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks...there seems to be no guiding intelligence behind any of the ideas.

    Though perhaps it is unfair of me to be looking for guiding intelligence from elected officials.

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    QSR magazine reports on changes being made by Boston Market, as the chain tests new food (including new recipes for items such as loaded mashed potatoes, squash casserole and cornbread), new plateware, and better staffing in its stores.

    The company says that it is “dead-center” when it comes to pricing in the fast casual segment...but that it needs to upgrade the experience so that it exceeds expectations.
    KC's View:
    Is Boston Market still in business?

    It wasn’t that long ago that Boston Market was the chain that a lot of supermarkets worried about, and that seemed to be setting the table when it comes to consumer foodservice expectations.

    Now, at best, it seems to be an afterthought.

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner said yesterday that company mascot Ronald McDonald is “a force for good,” and will not be retired...despite the fact that some critics say that the clown is an “insidious” force that encourages kids to eat fast food that is not nutritious.
    KC's View:
    Critics of Ronald McDonald need to get a life. Parents with a backbone have nothing to fear from a clown mascot.

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that “citing what it claims is a history of employee abuses and discriminatory practices, a New York community group and roughly 100 East New York residents plan to protest Wal-Mart’s reported plans this afternoon near Spring Creek Towers, a large low and middle income housing complex formerly known as Starrett City, in Brooklyn. ‘We’re not opposed to development,’ said Jonathan Westin, an organizer for New York Communities for Change, a city-based non-profit.  ‘We just want stores that will pay people fair wages and treat the community the way it should be treated’.”

    • Walmart-owned Asda Group has announced that it will “sell all privately prescribed cancer treatment drugs on a permanent 'not for profit' basis potentially saving thousands of pounds for sufferers.

    John Evans, Asda’s Superintendent Pharmacist, said in a prepared statement: "The crippling cost of paying privately for cancer treatment has forced many people to spend their savings or even re-mortgage their house to pay for these essential drugs.

    "We are the first retailer to recognise this injustice and to do something about it and we are calling on other retailers to follow our lead. It's a small step in the right direction but, our permanent 'not for profit' price on cancer treatment drugs makes them more accessible and can save people hundreds if not thousands of pounds."
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    • The Boston Globe reports that “when striking Shaw’s warehouse workers embark on a five-day march this weekend to draw renewed attention to their nearly three-month fight against the supermarket company, they will also be evoking the civil rights and farm workers’ marches of the 1960s ... Marches like this don’t take place very often anymore, but drastic action is necessary to get the public’s attention, organizers said. The 300 warehouse workers walked off the job on March 7, largely over rising health care costs, and the union has been holding pickets at about 16 local Shaw’s stores ever since.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    We had a couple of fast food-related references yesterday...

    Fast Company has a terrific little story about how MNB-fave Burgerville, the 39-unit Pacific Northwest fast food chain, has started providing nutritional information on customer receipts. The receipts do not just provide this data about the food people order, but also offers healthier alternatives; if a person orders a milk shake, it lets them know that a smoothie is a tasty but healthier option. A pilot program by Burgerville got such positive response from shoppers that the company is rolling it out chain-wide this week.

    USA Today reports that KFC is on the verge of selling its 10 millionth Double Down - the bacon and cheese sandwich that is surrounded by chicken breasts instead of bread, the fried version of which has 540 calories, 32grams of fat, and 1,380 milligrams of salt. This success means that KFC will make the Double Down a permanent part of its menu; originally, it was scheduled to go off the menu on Sunday.

    The company says that the Double Down is one of its most successful product launches.

    On this latter story, I commented:

    Clearly, Americans have spoken. It may be fat Americans with high blood pressure and bloated cholesterol levels, but they get a voice, too.

    There may be wailing and gnashing of teeth in the health care and nutritionists communities, but KFC shareholders are going to be happy, and the chain’s executives have to feel like they are sitting pretty.

    You can’t stop companies from selling crap like this. You can’t stop people from eating crap like this. Nor should we.

    Though it seems entirely reasonable to me that it is appropriate public policy to insist that KFC and its brethren inform people about the product’s calories, fat and sodium levels. And it seems like appropriate private policy for companies to insist that people who eat in such a way that their health is negatively affected should pay more for health insurance. People need to have a level of personal responsibility...and they need to have the data so they can make informed choices.

    For me, the assiduous responsibility of a company like Burgerville is far more attractive than the practices of KFC. Even more important, Burgerville’s food is a lot better. No contest.

    Lots of comments on these stories...

    One MNB user wrote:

    You amaze me with your directness lately... “Clearly, Americans have spoken. It may be fat Americans….” You are the Joan Rivers of the Grocery Food business.

    BTW…maybe you could petition to get this added to that bill you’d like to see passed on government/child obesity issues…or maybe a new law like the one for establishments that serve alcohol (Dram Shop Law or Common Negligence)-if you are a fat American, a restaurant should have the right to refuse to sell you items that will only make you fatter…and then maybe if the restaurant doesn’t do this, the fat American with high cholesterol can sue the chain or the family can hold the restaurant liable in the event of a fatal disease….oops, maybe you can do that all ready?

    Smoking is still the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the country, accounting for about 440,000 deaths annually. Obesity is #2. Maybe we can force food service companies to put warning labels on the food. Imagine going into KFC and getting your Double Down wrapped in paper that says “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Eating this food may cause (or aggravate many pre-existing conditions), such as hypertension and elevated cholesterol. It may contain capsaicin which is known to stimulate the brain to release pain killers called endorphins. The release of this chemical creates the feeling of euphoria, or a natural high. Do not operate heavy machinery or drive within 2 hours of ingestion”.

    Joan Rivers? Oooohhh.....that stings.

    I’m just trying to keep the conversation lively.

    MNB user Brian List wrote:

    Not that I’m a big fan of KFC (I actually never eat there) but I did a quick comparison with a Burgerville Chicken sandwich with the double down. Both of these companies’ menu and nutrition facts are found within 2 clicks from a Google search.

    KFC Double Down: 540 calories, 32 fat grams, 10 sat. fat grams, 1380 salt.

    Burgerville Crispy Chicken Sandwich: 600 calories, 30 fat grams, 9 sat. fat grams, 1360 salt.

    Pretty similar comparison, though you call the double down ‘crap.’ And again, I really do not like KFC’s food, but I think you’re throwing them under the bus a little bit here. I understand (and agree with) your argument about company nutrition transparency, but as I said earlier both nutrition facts were found with ease.  One of the reasons I stopped eating at Chili's for lunch was when I looked and found out what I thought was a reasonably ‘healthy’ chicken sandwich had 1,000 calories and 120% of my daily sodium intake for the day.  Take a look at that menu when you get a chance, its pretty shocking.

    Fair point. Though I’m sort of in the grilled chicken-no fries-fat-free yogurt smoothies stage of my life, and would avoid that crispy chicken stuff.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    Perhaps, just perhaps…KFC knows its target market.

    Me, I have not eaten in a “fast-food” restaurant (including Burgerville) since reading Fast Food Nation…You gotta know, passing a Burgerville each day on my way home from work, reading the street side menu board which talks about Northwest Blackberry or Oregon strawberry shakes…Walla Walla sweet onion rings…Tillamook Cheeseburgers®…makes it VERY hard to stick to my principles.

    I do love the Tillamook Cheeseburgers ... the cheese makes it. You have greater discipline than I do.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    Not that you need to reprint this, this is more of a "Kevin made me think & research and now I need to tell him" thing. But because of your piece, I did go to the KFC website to "see" the Double Down (because of DVR - I really don't watch commercials anymore). Right underneath the picture and video of the "sandwich" there is a grid that gives the nutritional information. And it's not a tiny-impossible-to-read-microscopic grid either. I certainly am not pro-Double Down - I think it's a heart attack waiting to happen, but KFC is not hiding the fact that it isn't any good for you either. Just being somewhat fair.

    Here's a question - do you suppose that even though nutritional information is becoming more readily available, a large population of consumers don't understand what that means? For example, the DD from KFC is 530 calories. Is it possible that many people wouldn't understand that this is about a third (generalizing) of their TOTAL DAILY calories? Or that it has almost ALL of your daily sodium allowance in ONE SANDWICH? Maybe this all comes down to education. Or denial...but that would be the cynical take...right?

    I absolutely believe that most people have no sense of context when it comes to nutritional information.

    MNB user Anne Maas seems to agree:

    Wow - 10 million Double Downs. This just demonstrates the need to further educate the American public about proper nutrition and how it relates to their health. I agree that people should be allowed the choice to eat foods that are bad for them, but I don't feel that simply posting the calorie, fat and sodium counts to aid them in their choices is enough. Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to see that progress, but the numbers are not registering. People need to better understand that one Double Down eats up one third to one half of a day's worth of calories, more than half the recommended daily intake of fat, and close to a day's worth of sodium (numbers vary depending on gender, age, etc.)

    I've had many conversations with individuals about nutrition and food choices. When I've pointed out the number of fat grams in a single serving of an item, I have often times been asked "is that a lot?" The same question was asked whether it were 2 grams of fat or 35 grams of fat. The numbers need to be included in a context that actually makes sense to the average Joe.

    MNB user Peggy Long wrote:

    Just yesterday I stopped at a Burgerville for lunch.  Whenever possible, I'll stop at Burgerville when I'm in Portland,. Oregon (live 5 hours away from the closest BV).  They always have incredible food options, but I'm the most excited when they start offering their fresh berry smoothies!  So I pulled in and ordered a large strawberry smoothie thinking that, even though it was a large and I could probably get by with a regular, since I don't get to have their great fast food very often, I'd treat myself.

    Needless to say I was shocked at the nutritional information.  And, I'd been pretty pleased that I ordered the smoothie instead of the milkshake.  Here is what my receipt said:

    “1 large fresh strawberry smoothie, calories 640.  That was over 30% of my daily calorie intake.  Fiber was 2 grams, fat was 0 grams and carbs was 139 grams.”

    Needless to say, it put a major damper on my enjoyment, but I still give kudos to BV for letting consumers know and understand the nutritional values of the food we eat.  My takeaway:  1) I'm glad I live so far away as I'd order way too many fresh fruit smoothies during  the summer and fall.  2) next time I'll still treat myself, but will limit my order to regular instead of large smoothies.  3) I'll continue to order only fresh fruit smoothies and not their great burgers or halibut fish and chips.  Sometimes you just have to sacrifice the 'healthy' and treat yourself!  At least at BV the treat is always tasty and now you know what you're eating!

    This may be the part of my standard message that most people miss:

    There’s nothing wrong with indulgence!

    Another MNB user wrote:

    You need to lay off the Double Down. While I’ve never tried it, I do think it sounds DELICIOUS.

    Yesterday, MNB referenced a Marketing Daily report that Walmart has “announced another round of deep price rollbacks on 22 favorite foods and everyday items, slashing an additional 30% off these products, citing evidence that its core customer is still feeling pinched by the economy. It says its research has found that mothers across the U.S. continue to worry about finances, with 75% searching for dollar-stretching deals.”

    Walmart, which says that the new rollbacks are “the most significant rollbacks in the company's history,” estimates that “the reductions will save the average Walmart grocery shopper an additional $28 each week,” according to Marketing Daily.

    My comment:

    Maybe I’m wrong about this, but... In a lot of ways, I really like the new Walmart commercials about its rollback program. But in the back of my mind, every time I see one (which is often - they are ubiquitous) it occurs to me that Walmart’s entire value proposition was based on always having the lowest prices. When it says that it is rolling back those prices, isn’t it conceding - at some level - that the prices previously were not as low as they could have been.

    One MNB user wrote:

    Could not agree with you more in the view that Wal-Mart’s price cuts must be from a price level that should not have been that high.  In fact, every time that a merchant claims widespread price cuts, I wonder whether they will give me a refund for the higher price that I paid last week.

    Another MNB user apparently did not think I was critical enough:

    Ok, most of the time when you go on about Wal-Mart I just let it go. This time…no.  Not too long ago in my local Wal-Mart I was looking for rubber bark mulch.  They had it last season.   When I found the pallet I noticed that the price was up considerably.  Several days later inside the store in the garden department was a stack of the same with a roll back sign.  The sign stated that it was $15.00 and now it was $10.00.  Interesting because I went home and checked my receipt and it said $10.00.  Maybe it was $15.00 for a day I don’t’ know.  I am not that charitable when it comes to Wal-Mart though.  I will only shop there when I can’t find it anywhere else.  There is a desire to rant but that would not be productive so that’s it.

    MNB user Chelle Blaszczyk wrote:

    As I was out in the retail market today, I looked at Wal Mart for purple (lilac) nail polish. I saw it shown in a magazine as one of the new Spring/Summer things to brighten up your nails.

    Okay, so now, not that lilac nail polish is highly critical to anyone's business, but what I found to me explains the difference between Wal Mart and Target. At Wal Mart, I had a hard time finding purple nail polish, let alone lilac nail polish. At Target, the purple nail polish was on an endcap with many of the companies having many different shades of purple nail polish for me and I did find a lilac nail polish at Target.

    So to me the difference between Wal Mart and Target is that if I want to find something that is new and trendy, I'm not going to find it at Wal Mart; if I'm looking for the best price on a basic, I will find it at Wal Mart.

    Just a small lesson in retailing, but never the less, an important lesson for Wal Mart to learn if they are going to compete as the economy recovers...

    Thanks for my daily dose of retailing; I enjoy your insights and I also enjoy the comments from other readers who don't agree with you.

    Me, too.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    Go figure.

    USA Today reports that Southwest Airlines increased its profits during the past year by not charging for checked baggage, at the same time that other airlines were hitting travelers with per-bag fees in order to generate much-needed cash.

    According to the story, “Gary Kelly, Southwest's CEO, told reporters at the airline's annual shareholders meeting Wednesday that his carrier has gained about $1 billion in revenue by taking market share from its rivals - almost all of which charge from $15 to check one bag to as much as $100 or more for a third in some circumstances.” Southwest’s policy has been highly touted in a series of television commercials.

    Now, that $1 billion figure is a little hard to prove, Kelly conceded, because of operational differences among the airlines. But, he said, “I'm simply saying that we reduced our capacity, and we're carrying more passengers, while our competitors are reducing capacity and carry less passengers."

    Seems simple enough, and a lesson that more businesses should learn. The popular move is not always the right move, and will not always have the desired effect.

    And remember. When Spirit Air announced that it would start charging for carry-on bags, a lot of people’s first reaction was that they could not wait to see how Southwest would respond. That’s what I call brand equity.

    A big thanks to the folks at Graeter’s Ice Cream, who were kind enough to send the Content Guy a case of ice cream...which is some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Especially the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip - which was almost too good for my own good. The bad news is that Grater’s is only available in 13 states, and Connecticut isn’t one of them...

    I’m told, however, that Graeter’s is opening a new plant that will allow it to double and eventually quadruple capacity. So maybe there is long-term hope for those of us in outlying states.

    If you’ve never had Graeter’s...try it. Thank me later.

    Here’s my end-of-season TV report...

    • “Fringe” ended its second season with a bang-up cliffhanger last night, proving itself a worthy heir to the “X-Files” tradition - spooky stories with a fascinating mythology linking them from week to week. It gets more compelling with every episode, with wonderful performances from Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and the terrific John Noble, not to mention a nice turn in the finale by guest star Leonard Nimoy.

    • I have to admit to mixed emotions about the finale episodes of “Lost” and “24,” which will air on Sunday and Monday, respectively. “Lost” just gets more and more interesting, and there is part of me that wishes they’d take another year or two to tell all the stories that obviously are percolating there; “24,” on the other hand, seems done, going through the motions at the end of an exhausting series of days for its hero, Jack Bauer. But as these two shows end after long and distinguished runs, it is important to remember that they each reinvented the form to some degree...taking traditional television storytelling and knocking it on its ear. For that we should be grateful.

    • My not-so-secret passion when it comes to television shows is for police procedurals of various kinds - which is why I enjoy shows like “The Mentalist” and “Criminal Minds” (which gets more depraved every week). But I’m not quite sure why I’ve stopped watching “CSI” on Thursday nights - maybe it is because I watch “Fringe” instead, or maybe it is because I miss William Petersen’s Gil Grissom. But somewhere along the line, “CSI” lost me.

    • In some ways, the Jesse Stone series of television movies on CBS - which seem to run once a year, usually in May - are the very essence of traditional television storytelling. No special effects to speak of, a compelling central performance by Tom Selleck, scripts based on novels and characters created by the late Robert B. Parker, and nice character turns by a group of supporting actors. But they’ve always been something a little different - they look more like movies, and they have created an ongoing and evolving portrait not just of the protagonist, a small town police chief with a weakness for booze and his ex-wife (he says he is divorced “everywhere but in my mind”), but also of the small Massachusetts town of Paradise, which is anything but.

    The sixth in the series, “No Remorse,” was on a couple of weeks ago, and much of the pleasure was in seeing references to previous stories - everything has a context. We know where the bullet hole in the Ozzie Smith photo came from. We understand Stone’s relationship with his dog, Reggie, and what happened to his old dog, Boomer. We’ve watched his various relationships unfold, slowly and deliberately, with novelistic pace and precision. And the really good news is that, while Parker is gone, a seventh movie, “Innocents Lost,” has been completed and an eighth one is being written. Good stuff.

    I just finished “Game Change,” the book about the 2008 presidential campaign by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, and it is terrific - a worthy and well-written successor to the old “Making of a President” series by Theodore H. White. Not everybody will like it; people who were on the losing side of that race probably will find it to be hopelessly skewed. And, quite frankly, I found myself wondering how different the book would have been had John McCain been elected. But that said, it is a fascinating look at back room politics, and serves as an effective reminder that while campaigning is poetry, governance is prose....and not always very pretty prose.

    My wines of the week:

    • the 2008 Shiraz Viognier blend from The Chook, in Australia, which is wonderful with grilled and barbecued foods;

    • the 2008 Woop Woop Cabernet Sauvignon, also from Australia, perfect with a nice thick steak;

    • and the 2006 Piaggia “Il Sasso” Carmignano from Italy, which is great with spicy pastas and pizza.

    To give credit where credit is due...

    I should mention here that I got all these wines from my wine-of-the-month club, which is from Nicholas Roberts , a wonderful Connecticut wine store that has an innovative club and ships all over the country.

    That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend...and I’ll see you Monday.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 21, 2010

    Delhaize announced this morning that Rick Anicetti, the longtime CEO of Food Lion who just four months ago was named executive vice president of Delhaize Group and CEO of Delhaize America Shared Services, has left the company, effective immediately.

    No further information or reason was given for his sudden departure. One source told MNB that the announcement came after a series of “meetings and discussions” between Anicetti and Pierre-Olivier Beckers, President and CEO of Delhaize Group and of Delhaize America.

    In another organizational change, Carol Herndon, currently Senior Vice President of Accounting and Finance of Delhaize America, has been named Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Delhaize America, reporting to Beckers.

    And Ron Hodge, Executive Vice President of Delhaize Group and CEO of Delhaize America Operations, will add Human Resources for Delhaize America to his current responsibilities. Ron will continue to report to Beckers and serve as member of Delhaize Group's Executive Committee.

    "I want to thank Rick for his significant contributions to the Company, both as CEO of Food Lion, LLC and as CEO of Delhaize America Shared Services where he helped to lay strong foundations for Delhaize America's further development," said Beckers in a prepared statement.
    KC's View:
    It is too early to jump to any conclusions about the reasons for Anicetti’s departure; the second and third day stories on this one will be instructive.

    I will say this. I like Anicetti a lot. He’s always been gracious and generous to me in our various dealings (as have almost everyone in the Delhaize culture) and I hope that whatever the reasons for his leaving, this ends up being a positive story for him.