retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Washington Post reports that "unionized employees at Washington area Safeway and Giant Food stores voted Wednesday to authorize a strike against the grocery chains if the two parties fail to agree on a new contract." Negotiations between management and the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) have been ongoing for weeks over a new contract that expired at the end of October and that covers some 17,000 employees.

The major sticking point, according to the story, has been the cost of health care benefits, though the negotiations have been characterized as "productive."


• The Wall Street Journal has a story about how "high-concept flavors and ingredient combinations that once were considered niches—like vodka-flavored Limoncello and Montebianco, based on the Italian dessert made with roasted chestnuts and whipped cream—are going mainstream, as sellers of premium-priced gelato, sorbetto and ice cream cater to adult tastes and look to increase flat sales … Frozen-dessert makers see the shift to adventurous flavors as an opportunity to snap up market share, says Lynn Dornblaser, new product expert at market-research firm Mintel. Adjusted for inflation, sales of ice cream including individually wrapped pops and other frozen novelties, have been essentially flat at some $11.2 billion, according to Mintel data."


• The New York Times reports that Men's Wearhouse management will review strategic options for the company, including the $2.3 billion unsolicited bid for the company made by Jos. A Bank. "The announcement of Men’s Wearhouse’s intentions comes two days before a deadline that Jos. A. Bank had imposed on its takeover bid, one that Men’s Wearhouse has steadfastly resisted since it was first made in September," the Times writes. "Jos. A. Bank has said that its offer will expire on Thursday if the two sides do not begin talks."


Wine Enthusiast magazine has named Kroger its 2013 Retailer of the Year, citing the retailer's "dynamic growth, dedication to wine, ability to foresee trends and customer service."
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