retail news in context, analysis with attitude

APRIL 1, 2011 - A series of breaking news stories are occurring this morning, just as they often do on this day every year...

• Sources tell MNB that senior executives at Supervalu are planning a two-pronged strategy that will get the company out of its financial and competitive ennui - with the first step being a spin-off of the company’s wholesale business, with a major private equity firm taking a majority position in the company.

At the same time, it is believed that Supervalu could take the retailing side of the business into bankruptcy protection as a way of eliminating debt and trying to end labor agreements that are preventing it from selling retail assets that could generate additional cash.

“And here’s the kicker,” one insider source tells MNB. “When we sell off the wholesale business, the top execs will be able to get bonuses based on the same price. And then when we take the retail side into bankruptcy, they’ll be able to get retention bonuses that will be paid in order to get them to say to get the company onto the right path.

“It’s what we call a win-win.”

• In an effort to bolster its retailing credibility and develop board-level bench strength, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) announced the election of two new board members - Larry Johnston, the former CEO of Albertsons, and Robert Nardelli, the former CEO of Home Depot.

Both men are former GE executives. An A&P source said that Johnston and Nardelli are expected to bring significant Six Sigma expertise to the board. In addition, based on their GE experience, it is anticipated that they will be able to bring a degree of income tax prowess to the board meetings.

• Big Y announced that it will institute a new parking lot policy in which it will offer preferential treatment to consumers willing to pay for it at its stores. The closer you park to the store, the more expensive the space - $3 for front line spaces, $2 for those between 25 and 75 feet away, and $1 for those between 75 and 100 feet away. Spaces further than 100 feet away will be free, as will spaces for handicapped customers.

“Times are tough,” one insider told MNB. “We need to generate revenue wherever we can. And since we know a lot of people are paying to check their luggage and for more legroom, and now we’re even asking people to pay to get better discounts, we figured this was the next frontier.”

• Hog farmers farmers are elated but lawyers representing the nation’s pig population reportedly are expressing concern over two new developments in the bacon biz.

Denny’s has announced a new bacon menu, tied to its “Baconalia!” celebration - and key to the promotion is a Maple Bacon Sundae, described as “a classic ice cream sundae piled high with maple-flavored syrup and a generous sprinkling of hickory-smoked bacon.” Denny’s also is offering items ranging from Bacon Meatloaf to the Triple Bacon Sampler, “featuring two tasty strips of hickory-smoked bacon, new pepper bacon and turkey bacon, all served with two eggs and hash browns, complete with more diced hickory-smoked bacon and cheddar cheese.” No word on whether these items are being handed out with a Lipitor chaser...

Meanwhile, the folks at J&D Foods have created something called Bacon Air, described as bacon-flavored air, with no calories, carbs, fat, sodium or cholesterol. The company says that it was inspired by a French company called, improbably enough LeWhif, which makes various air products flavored with coffee, chocolate and vitamins, and preaches the advantages of “breathing food.”
KC's View:
Okay, take a look at the dateline - April 1, 2011.

Get the joke?

Except of these four stories, one of them actually is true.

Can you guess which one?