retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters reports that Whole Foods Market won the dismissal of a lawsuit by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which "accused the grocery chain of deceiving consumers into believing the meat it sells is raised more humanely than normal, resulting in overcharges." PETA said the retailer's five-step rating system for beef, chicken, pork and turkey was a "sham," because "it was not enforced against suppliers, and the standards were at best little better than normal industry practices."

The judge ruled that "PETA failed to show that Whole Foods' alleged misrepresentations on in-store signs, placards and napkins defrauded consumers into overpaying," the story says.

• The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that pension fund is being sued by a number of Kroger employees and retirees who maintain that their retirement money is being mismanaged, that it is "massively underfunded" and is "projected to be insolvent by 2026."

According to the story, "The lawsuit involves an underfunded pension plan called Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund that holds about 5,000 current and retired Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) employees’ retirement funds, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois. The outside plan has lost assets over the years as fewer members contribute and thanks to investment losses. Kroger employees want out of the plan."

MarketWatch reports that just ahead of the expected completion of a merger with Ahold, Delhaize Group "reported Wednesday a near four-fold rise in first-quarter net profit after booking lower finance costs." In the US, where Delhaize owns chains that operate up and down the east coast, Q1 revenue was $4.45 billion versus $4.36 billion year ago.

MarketWatch reports that "Sports Authority has abandoned hope of reorganizing and exiting bankruptcy and instead will count on buyers to save parts of its sprawling retail chain ... Loaded with more than $1.1 billion in debt, Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy protection in March, saying it would attempt to trim its operations and restructure, while looking for buyers as an alternate path. Now the alternative route is the only path forward for the distressed retailer, an employer of thousands of people."
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