retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• There is a story making the rounds about how Whole Foods suspended two employees in one of its New Mexico stores for allegedly speaking Spanish to each other while on the job, which was said to be against company policy.

However, Whole Foods is challenging the story, saying that the workers were suspended not for speaking Spanish to each other, but for being disrespectful when called into the office for a meeting with their manager. The employees misunderstood the meaning of the suspensions, Whole Foods says.

Here's the question I would ask. When these two employees were speaking to each other, should they actually have been talking to a customer? Because there's nothing more annoying to a customer than having employees chatting each other - in any language - when they should be engaged with the shopper.

• The Business Courier reports that Kroger is expanding its Ruler Foods concept, described as "small, discount grocery stores that mainly carry its in-house brands." The 18th store in the chain opened this week, the story says, and while Kroger officially says that it remains a "test concept," outside sources say that the retailer is actively looking for possible locations.

MarketWatch reports that PepsiCo is in negotiations to buy SodaStream, an Israeli company that manufacturers machines that turn tap water into carbonated beverages, for $2 billion. However, SodaStream is expected to "entertain other options" before making any deal.

Why do I have a feeling that Pepsi's plan to drop every SodaSteam on the planet, not to mention the plans, into a deep, dark hole where nobody will ever find them? or, just maybe, Pepsi is entertaining the idea for a whole new business model...?

Reuters reports that Mondelez International's Cadbury division "is close to introducing heat-resistant chocolate it can sell in Africa and other hot regions of the world." While no details have been given, the chocolate is said to be able to withstand heat as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

As much as a decade has been spent developing the product. The company did not give a date when the new chocolate could be rolled out.
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