retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Now that the sale of bankrupt Andronico’s to Renwood Opportunities Fund for $16 million has been completed, the Daily Californian writes, it seems likely that one or more of Andronico’s six remaining stores could be closed - and the one that seems most vulnerable at the moment is the one on University Avenue on Berkeley.

The fund is described as a multimillion dollar investment fund headed by Renovo Capital and Rosewood Private Investments, focusing on “distressed middle market companies.”

• Safeway-owned Blackhawk Network, which sells prepaid and financial payments products for consumers and businesses, announced the acquisition of Cardpool, the fast-growing gift card exchange company where consumers can buy, sell and trade gift cards. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Advertising Age has a piece about a speech given by Dana Anderson, Kraft's SVP-Marketing Strategy and Communications, to the Association of National Advertisers convention in Phoenix, in which she laid out “a new risk-taking philosophy that embraces change in big bold strokes, rather than shorter incremental moves.”

According to the story, “At Kraft, risk-taking has even meant unlimited budgets for big ideas in an initiative called ‘blank checks’ led by Sanjay Khosla, Kraft's exec VP of developing markets. ‘Your constraints should not be your budget but your imagination,’ Ms. Anderson said. ‘If you have an idea and you can't afford it, you come to him, he gives you the blank check, you fill in the number.’

"’He's given away 13, and 12 of the 13 times people have met his goals,’ she said. ‘He says they are more careful with his money than they are with his own, and one guy even brought back change’.”

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that McDonald’s plans some additions and alterations to its menu as it looks to expand its share of the American stomach, “taking its Chicken McBites national early next year, the biggest change to its 2012 food and marketing calendar.”

According to the story, the fast feeder “will feature the mini-fried chicken pieces as a limited-time promotion in early spring ... Other items to be rotated onto its menu include a 100% fruit-juice slush called a Cherry Berry Chiller and a blueberry banana nut oatmeal later in the spring.

“The company also will add flavors to existing products, such as its premium chicken sandwich and coffees and hot chocolate.”

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance that advises health care professionals not to use needle-free clinical devices to administer influenza vaccinations. Based on this advice, Kroger said it was immediately discontinuing use of such clinical devices at all pharmacies and The Little Clinic locations.

Dow Jones reports that gum manufacturers are trying to build sales by selling smaller packs at lower prices.

According to the story, “Kraft Foods Inc. is selling five-stick packs of Trident and Stride gum in the U.S. for 50 cents each, offering a more affordable size to appeal to customers who were balking at the higher-priced packs. Gum titan Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. plans to offer smaller and cheaper packs of gum starting next year, according to Denise Young, Wrigley's director of corporate affairs in North America. Wrigley is owned by privately held Mars Inc.

“Kraft and Wrigley hope the smaller sizes will be cheap enough to land in the purses and pockets of consumers, especially teenagers, a group that has turned its back on more expensive, packs of gum. Packs of Trident, with 18 pieces, and Stride, with 14, sell for suggested prices of $1.29, a level that Kraft Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld has was too much for teens to cover with pocket change.”
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