retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The troubled Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) announced that in a sale-leaseback arrangement, it has sold six Pathmark stores to Winstanley Enterprises LLC for $89.8 million.

The move comes as A&P tries to improve its balance sheet and get some kind - or any kind - of competitive momentum.

Bloomberg reports that the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Petroleum Institute and other groups have filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), challenging its decision “to allow more corn-based ethanol in gasoline.” The various groups maintain that “EPA lacked the authority to make the decision and will result in higher food costs.”

• As expected, Amazon.com will pay $500 million in cash and assume another $45 million in debt and other obligations to acquire Quidsi, which owns Diapers.com and several other e-tailing sites.

“Customers have a strong interest in baby care and health and beauty products,” Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said in a prepared statement. “We believe that Quidsi’s offerings are a great complement to Amazon’s baby and health and beauty businesses.”

In other words, to extend its online retailing domination into yet another category.

• Also as expected, Sara Lee Corp. confirmed that it is selling its North American Fresh Bakery unit to baking company Grupo Bimbo for $959 million. According to published reports, the deal includes 41 U.S. plants, but lets Sara Lee keep the right to sell its branded brand frozen desserts and meat products such as sliced deli meats.
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