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• Washington State officials said yesterday that they plan to appeal a court decision that would have essentially disbanded the three-tier system in the state for selling wine and beer. The existing system requires the use of distributors, and Costco sued the government, arguing that it was anti-competitive and resulted in artificially high prices. The court agreed, but the state now plans to challenge that decision.

• Kroger reportedly will sell 12 Cala Foods and Bell Market stores in Northern California to an investor group that includes Harley DeLano, the former president of the Cala chain. The move continues Kroger's withdrawal from the Northern California marketplace.

USA Today reports that Frito-Lay will begin a national roll-out "of Lay's and Ruffles chips cooked in sunflower oil instead of cottonseed oil, to reduce saturated fat. By the end of 2006, the chips cooked in NuSun sunflower oil will be sold nationwide."

According to the company, "Saturated fat in the flagship Lay's Classic chips, for example, will drop by 66%, from 3 grams per 1-ounce serving to a single gram. Based on Lay's total sales, the switch will cut 60 million pounds of saturated fat a year from the nation's diet…"

• Ahold CEO Anders Moberg reportedly has informed his board of directors that there is no truth to rumors that he is considering stepping down from his job, nor is it true that he considering a breakup and sale of the company.

• The Orlando Sentinel reports that Starbucks has acquired 56 mall-based Barnie's Coffee & Tea shops, many of them in Florida. The stores will be converted to the Starbucks name once the deal is finalized in September. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

• Pathmark officials said yesterday that they will debut a new prototype store with a greater-than-usual focus on fresh foods on the store's perimeter, which the company said is key to developing customer loyalty. The new format should begin rolling out later this year.

• It was announced earlier this week that Wal-Mart's Asda Group in the UK planned to get into the real estate business, selling residential real estate via the Internet. Now, its archrival Tesco reportedly is looking for partners that will allow it to develop a similar business model.

• The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that contrary to previously published reports, Delhaize has no plans to sell off its Czech Republic division, but that it will invest money and resources to make the Czech stores profitable.
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