retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The Associated Press reports that "Martin’s Food Markets will lay off hundreds at the last three stores to close before being converted to Publix Super Markets ... Ten Martin’s stores in the area have been sold to Florida-based Publix, which will renovate and reopen the stores. The other seven stores laid off a combine 1,100 employees in November and February ... Martin’s sold the stores to comply with federal antitrust regulations after the parent companies of Martin’s and Food Lion merged."

• The San Antonio Business Journal reports that "H-E-B Grocery Co. is celebrating a big employment milestone. The grocer said it's passed the 100,000-employee mark, making it the largest privately held employer in Texas. The grocery chain has 90,000 employees across its 332 Texas locations and 10,000 spread across its 56 locations In Mexico."

The story says that H-E-B "has created more than 24,000 jobs since 2008. Nationwide, it has more than 388 stores and plans to add nine new Texas locations and six in Mexico this year."

Curbed Los Angeles reports that Whole Foods has identified three new locations in Southern California where it plans to open its "365 by Whole Foods" format - in Santa Monica, at the corner of Pico and Cloverfield south of I-10 freeway, as well as in Long Beach and in the North Hollywood Arts district.

• The Canadian Press reports that Loblaw is saying that it plans "to open 30 new stores and renovate more than 500 existing stores as it continues to adapt to changes in the food retail sector ... Loblaw said the moves would invest about $1.3 billion into the economy and create an estimated 10,000 retail, trade and construction jobs."

According to the story, "The grocery and pharmacy giant said the investment included the continued roll out of its Click & Collect e-commerce, improved health and wellness services, and the inclusion of fresh food at select Shoppers Drug Mart locations."

• The Washington Post has a story about the continuing travails of Toys R Us - in part because the streaming trend hurt its video game and electronics business, and in part because when other toy retailers discounted significantly during the 2016 holidays, Toys R Us resisted the urge - and now finds itself with last year's inventory that it needs to dump to make room for this year's. At the same time, Toys R Us finds itself competing - not very successfully - with online behemoths such as Amazon.

The company says it wants "to reinvigorate its stores by making them into more of a hangout ... It wants to hold more in-store events for the community." Plus, it is hoping that a film release schedule that includes many with toy licensing tie-ins - such as the new Spider-Man and Star Wars movies - will help it generate new traffic and sales.
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