retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that BMO Capital Markets retail analyst Karen Short is telling investors that Ahold is the most logical buyer for Harris Teeter Supermarkets, which acknowledged a few days ago that it is considering its various strategic options, including a possible sale of the company.

The reasons? Ahold has "an acquisitive nature, a desire to move into southern U.S. markets and a mix of union and nonunion supermarkets."

Private equity groups are less likely to be interested in Harris Teeter because it is "an exceptionally well-run company," and not the fixer-upper that private equity companies prefer.

• The Washington Post reports that "as much as one-third of seafood" sold in Washington, DC, restaurants and groceries "is fraudulently labeled, according to a report the advocacy group Oceana released Thursday. The group sampled 674 retail outlets in the District and 20 states between 2010 and 2012, often finding cheaper, farmed fish being sold in place of wild-caught ones."

Reuters reports that, as expected, " Office Depot Inc will acquire smaller rival OfficeMax Inc in a $976 million all-stock deal, the companies said on Wednesday, confirming an agreement inadvertently announced earlier in the day, before it was completed.

"The combined entity's name, headquarters and CEO are all undetermined, an unusual level of major decisions yet to be made that points to the integration challenge the companies face."

Approval from antitrust regulators will be necessary for the deal to be closed.
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