retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Supervalu, faced with rumors suggesting that negotiations to sell the company to Cerberus Capital Management had stalled, said yesterday that talks with various entities are proceeding. But that's all it said.

"The company continues to be in active discussion with several parties," Supervalu said in a prepared statement. "There can be no assurance that this process will result in any transaction or any change in the Company's overall structure or its business model."

Some reports had indicated that Cerberus was having trouble coming up with sufficient funds for a Supervalu acquisition.

Reuters reports that Hostess Brands, granted permission by the bankruptcy court overseeing its affairs to liquidate the company, has received "furious" interest in its various brands. According to the story, "Around 110 potential bidders have contacted the company about bidding for at least part of its business, and 70 had enough interest to sign confidentiality agreements, Hostess' banker told the hearing in White Plains, New York."

• The Associated Press reports that the US Mint is preparing a study that will recommend to the US Congress that the dollar bill be discontinued and replaced with a dollar coin - a move that could save taxpayers more than $4 billion over the next three decades.

The move would save money because a) coins don't wear out as fast as paper, and b) changes would simultaneously be made in the metallurgical composition of the coins to metals that cost less than the copper and nickel currently used.

Considering the resounding success that dollar coins have been over the years, one can hardly blame the Mint for wanting to make such a move.

Yeah, right. reports that Ahold USA CEO Carl Schlicker said this week that the company remains interested in acquisitions: "While we can't predict the future, one of the things we have always tried to do is prepare to react," he said. "If there were stores that would become available, certainly we'd earmark the ones we'd have the greatest interest in. That number could be more or less significant than the acquisitions we'd done in the past."

Buffalo Business First reports that Tops Markets plans to open a new upscale, small-format, fresh food-oriented store called Orchard Fresh. The first of the format will open in Orchard Park, NY, early next year, and the story says it "could be a template for a fresh expansion tract for the region’s largest supermarket chain."

“We are not talking about your normal grocery store lineup,” says Tops CEO Frank Curci. “We are talking about specialty foods and upscale foods, with a heavy bent toward healthy and natural and organic foods.”

Reuters reports that "Kroger Co said Thursday it won a tax battle with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which has dropped an effort to collect $567 million in disputed deductions from the grocery giant ... The dismissal by a three-judge panel came several weeks following a government move to drop its claims, after pursuing Kroger for nearly a decade, court papers showed." The case concerned a tax dispute related to Kroger's acquisition on Fred Meyer and Ralphs in 1999.
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