retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Kroger "will spend $1.5 million installing Ecotality’s Blink charging stations at 125 stores in Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego. Kroger will install 225 stations in all, including 25 DC fast chargers.  The grocery chain already has 60 Blink chargers in Oregon and Washington, as well as 14 in Texas. Blink customers sign up to use the service and access the chargers by swiping a card on the machine."

According to the story, competition to lock up locations for electric car chargers tends to be "fierce," and supermarket parking lots are viewed as optimal because a) people go there with a degree of frequency, and b) they tend to spend enough time inside to make charging worthwhile, but not so much time that the charging stations get hogged by one car.

Bloomberg reports that "Blackhawk Network Holdings Inc., the gift-card provider owned by grocer Safeway Inc. (SWY), plans to raise as much as $220 million in a U.S. initial public offering ... The company will offer 10 million shares for $20 to $22 each ... At the midpoint of the offering range, Blackhawk would be valued at $1.09 billion, according to a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission."

• The Los Angeles Times reports that "major baby-food makers such as Dole Food Co., Del Monte Foods Co. and Nestle’s Gerber business are going to court ... to determine whether they need to warn consumers of certain lead levels in their products."

The court appearance is prompted by a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Environmental Law Foundation, which "alleged that some of the companies' foods and juices -- which included ingredients such as carrots, peaches, pears and sweet potatoes -- contained enough lead to warrant a consumer caution label under California's Proposition 65 toxins warning law."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, the story notes, that "about 500,000 American children between 1 and 5 years old have unsafe lead levels in their blood."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Anheuser-Busch InBev has reached an agreement in principle with the US Department of Justice that will allow it to conclude its $20.1 billion friendly takeover of Mexico's Grupo Modelo. The deal involves the selling and/or licensing of various Grupo Modelo assets as a way of resolving antitrust concerns.

• Bimbo Bakeries USA said yesterday that it has completed the acquisition of Beefsteak, the bread brand being sold by bankrupt Hostess brands, for $31.9 million.
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