business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal quotes Target Corp. CEO Brian Cornell as saying that the company's inventory problems have been resolved.

From the story:

"Target was stung by changes in consumer habits earlier this year, leaving it with a glut of inventory. The company responded by slashing prices to unload merchandise, hurting quarterly results over the summer; it also replace its top supply-chain executive.

"'We put that inventory problem behind us,' Cornell said. 'And now we can focus on great execution' as it preps for the fourth quarter. Target's holiday shopping season has already begun, in fact. It began its Black Friday sales event a full three weeks earlier than last year."

Cornell also says that while there are a variety of perspectives about prospects for a recession, "What we've seen all year long is really healthy traffic and a guest that's shopping in our stores and shopping online."

•  Kroger said that Zalat Pizza, a Dallas-based, 24-unit pizza business, will open locations in two of its stores in the Houston market before the end of the year.

Further rollout of the concept is expected next year.

•  In California, KTLA reports that "California businesses are no longer allowed to charge a higher price on products marketed for women, also known as the 'Pink Tax'," which "refers to women’s products marked with a higher price tag when the item is identical to a lower-priced men’s item. Oftentimes, the only difference is the product’s color or packaging, such as in shampoos, deodorants, shaving razors, etc."

According to the story, "The bill prohibits two 'substantially similar' products from the same company from being 'priced differently based on the gender of the individuals for whom the goods are marketed and intended.'

"The bill defines 'substantially similar' as two goods with the following characteristics:  No substantial differences in the materials used in production … The intended use is similar … The functional design and features are similar … The brand is the same or both brands are owned by the same individual or entity."

New York, the story, has a similar law in place.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Nestlé said it has agreed to acquire the Seattle’s Best Coffee brand from Starbucks Corp., bolstering the Nescafe and Nespresso owner’s coffee business in the U.S.

"The world’s largest packaged-food maker said Wednesday that the acquisition of the brand, which sells a range of packaged coffee in grocery stores as well as in locations such as workplaces, universities and hotels, would add depth to its North American portfolio. Nestlé didn’t disclose the terms of the deal."

•  From CNBC:

"McDonald’s will sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts in select restaurants later this month for the first time.

"Starting Oct. 26, the fast-food giant will sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts at nine locations in the Louisville, Kentucky, area as part of a test. McDonald’s said the test will help it learn more about how teaming up with Krispy Kreme would affect its operations.

"McDonald’s customers will be able to order the original glazed, chocolate iced with sprinkles and raspberry filled doughnuts, either individually or in packs of six. Participating McDonald’s locations will sell the doughnuts all day, but the treats won’t be available for delivery.

"Krispy Kreme will deliver fresh doughnuts daily to the McDonald’s restaurants, according to McDonald’s. The doughnut chain uses a “hub and spoke” model that lets it make and distribute its treats efficiently.  Production hubs, which are either stores or doughnut factories, send off freshly made doughnuts every day to retail locations such as grocery stores and gas stations."

If memory serves, one of the reasons that Krispy Kreme got into real trouble a few years ago was that its doughnuts were available everywhere, which reduced its "special" quotient - suddenly, they were a commodity, and the quality image suffered.  The company should be leery about making the same mistake again.