business news in context, analysis with attitude

Talking about a speech by Ahold CEO Anders Moberg that MNB covered last week, MNB user Dennis Sirianni wrote:

Wow, that has to set a new record for the most words used without saying anything! Moberg, has a bright future as a D.C. speechwriter.

I heard a few things here. One was that they are going to follow the A&P model of 25 years ago, and the other, (well, wait, it really the same), is they need to figure out how to get us to pay more for it.

At the end of the day, I see a lot of "more of the same". It really sounds like he is laying the ground work for increasing the value of the Giant Carlisle - Top's monster, so he can bundle it with the Stop & Shop division for maximum value in a future clean exit from the U.S. market.

We got several emails last week in response to our coverage of Sears and Kmart. One MNB user wrote:

I recently took a part time job with Sears because I am retired and need something to do.

With reference to your article in the Balance Sheet, I don't know where the profit is coming from, but from the looks of things, the shopping experience at Sears appears to be a dull and uneventful one. Customers wandering aimlessly through the store with glazed looks on their faces, asking directions because of a confusing layout, interested only in what they came there for or what's on sale and not interested in "shopping the store". This store badly in need of a remodel, dull. drab, and uninteresting. Employees who don't really care and are hard to find when someone needs assistance.
Understaffed. Numbers of customers are down also, compared to Wal-Mart and Target.

I give them 3 to 5 years tops.

Another MNB user wrote:

Every time I see a Sears - report - I wonder if anybody that is reporting on how great the bottom line is --- has been in a store?

I went into a Sears last holiday season and immediately thought - this is one of the stores they are going to close! It truly looked like a store that was going out of business. I recently revisited the store (still open - high volume FL Mall) and it looked even worse. Whole departments were 80% empty.

Obviously the objective of Sears’s current management is to "kill the brand.”

On the subject of Tesco’s plans for the US, MNB user Kevin Hade wrote:

As we hear more about what the retail side of this operation will look like, I am curious how they will be sourcing the products for these stores. In their other markets they rely heavily on external suppliers to produce their fresh sandwiches, chilled entrees, etc. Are they establishing alliances with US companies for these items or are they bringing their European manufacturing partners to the US in conjunction with this venture. I think this is an important. If you looked at the "failed" attempts of M&S and others on the east coast, I think one of their biggest challenges/mistakes was associated with not being able to get the types of products they sold at home produced in our country.

On the subject of improving nutrition in school, one MNB user wrote:

The whole issue is going to be extremely difficult for successful achievement of change in kids eating habits. My husband is an inner city teacher at the junior high level. He has observed many kids there throwing whole pieces of fruit directly in the trash from a lunch bag packed for school trips etc. He now announces that things like that should be placed in a collection spot and then any student wishing to eat a second may do so.

While most of these kids are free lunch participants, they have much money at their disposal to buy and consume junk food, and they do so on a daily basis. Educating any kids on the value of good, nutritional eating is a daunting task. It does not matter to them what is healthy, they just know what they want to eat and it is not fruits, vegetables and milk. They will go hungry until desired food is available to them.

KC's View: