retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Last week, there were stories circulating - largely based on speculation from one analyst - that Kroger was considering a major acquisition that would allow it to expand into markets where it currently does not operate.

Now, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that one strong possibility is " Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo Holdings LLC, which owns and operates more than 800 Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie stores spread throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Carolinas."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it is "reversing a controversial December decision in which agency staff agreed Whole Foods Market Inc. could exclude a nonbinding shareholder proposal that would make it easier for investors to nominate directors at the high-end grocer. Whole Foods said it should be allowed to exclude the proposal because it was offering a similar corporate governance change.

"The SEC said going forward it would take 'no view' on whether companies could leave such proposals out of their proxy materials. Instead, it plans to review a rule that has allowed firms to exclude measures if management plans to offer similar changes to its governing documents. The reversal will affect all companies, not just Whole Foods."

• The Union Gazette reports that Publix is about to go chain-wide with a digital coupon program described by the paper as "a quite cool method that, with minimum work from shoppers, makes it easier to save revenue at the checkout counter." No loyalty card required.

• In New Hampshire, the Union Leader reports that documentarian Jay Childs has raised more than $66,000 using the Kickstarter crowd-funding site from 607 financial backers, which will allow him to complete the movie he is doing about the battle for ownership of Market Basket.

That battle was center stage in New England for much of last year, as two factions of the Demoulas family fought over ownership of the company, with the Arthur T. Demoulas side of the family eventually winning out with the support of company employees.

According to the story, Childs hopes to have the film completed by late summer 2015.

• The Associated Press reports that the US Postal Service (USPS) is proposing "slight increases for mailing postcards and international letters — but wants to leave first-class "Forever" stamps at their present 49 cents ... Under a filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission, letters to international destinations would rise from $1.15 to $1.20. Postcards would rise from 34 cents to 35 cents."
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