retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Chicago Sun Times reports this morning that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley “is proposing a lucrative property tax break to make way for Chicago’s second Costco warehouse store - this one on the Near South Side - in a move that could set a precedent for Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers.

“The new Costco would be located at 14th and Ashland, creating 600 construction jobs, 125 full-time jobs and 125 part-time positions. Costco’s only store is located at 2746 N. Clybourn in Lincoln Park.”

The Daley administration argues that while the tax breaks “would save Costco $1 million over a 12-year period ... the project would generate $27 million worth of local taxes during that same period.”

Reuters reports this morning that Fortune Brands Inc., which owns brands ranging from Jim Beam whiskey, Titleist golf balls and faucet manufacturer Moen, plans to split into three companies ... Under a plan approved by Fortune's board, the company plans to spin off the home and security unit to shareholders in a tax-free transaction ... Fortune will either sell or spin off its golf unit, but a final decision has not been made.”

According to the story, Fortune will retain the liquor business for the time being, though there have been a number of companies - including Diageo - that have indicated an interest in acquiring it.

• The Nashville Business Journal reports that CVS Caremark “has asked a federal judge to dismiss a racketeering lawsuit filed in October by six Texas pharmacies and send the dispute into arbitration.” The retailer’s brief “argues that the pharmacies’ claims are covered by their respective contracts. Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark's pharmacy benefits business has its headquarters in Nashville.”

The Texas pharmacies accuse CVS Caremark “of using confidential patient data to encourage members of its pharmacy benefits management plan to fill their maintenance prescriptions at pharmacies owned by CVS Caremark.

Bloomberg reports that “Blackstone Group LP is teaming up with Bright Food Group Co., Shanghai’s biggest food and dairy company, to acquire vitamin and supplement retail chain GNC Holdings Inc.,” a move that the story says “may be the largest U.S. takeover by a Chinese buyer,” and one that also could give GNC an advantage in targeting the Chinese marketplace.
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