retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• Hormel Foods said that it will buy the Skippy peanut butter business from Unilever for $700 million in cash.

Experts say that not only does this reflect Hormel's growing interest in non-meat brands, but also gives it a major card to play in China, where peanut butter is a small but fast-growing category.

• Starbucks announced that it will open its first store in Vietnam next month. It will be in Ho Chi Minh City, and will be operated by Hong Kong Maxim's Group.

• Smithfield Foods announced that at the end of 2012 it had "successfully transitioned 38% of pregnant sows on its company-owned farms in the United States from individual gestation stalls to group housing systems," and remains on-track "to
finish its conversion to group housing on all company-owned farms in
the U.S. by 2017."

• Small and medium business owners in Ireland have voted Feargal Quinn - who turned Superquinn there into one of the most admired retailers in the world, and who now serves in the Irish Senate - the "most admired entrepreneur," according to a story in the Irish Examiner.

In addition to his Senate duties, Quinn hosts a TV program called "Retail Therapy," in which he goes to the aid of communities and retailers seeking to define and develop differential advantages.

Forget just being an entrepreneur. In my book, Feargal Quinn is one of the people I admire most in the world in any category ... and I've met a lot of people doing my job over the past 30 years or so. He's smart, innovative, charming ... and just a nice guy.

Every once in a while, some boob will write me an email and suggest that I'm wrong for describing people in the industry as being "nice," because nice people rarely make great business leaders. Feargal Quinn is one of the people who prove this to be wrong - that nice people actually can finish first.

KC's View: