business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB user Rush S. Dickson III had an observation about the new, small-format Tesco stores being planned for California, Arizona and Nevada:

Tesco's convenience/fresh format could be your future retailing model right now. The essence of the 20th century retail food model is in the philosophy of making $on the buy, not the sell. In other words, manufacturer, not customer driven. The Tesco model seems oriented differently if their Metro units in London are any indication.

We would agree.

And MNB user Dave Wiles connected Tesco’s plans to 7-Eleven’s announcement that it would sell more fresh and healthy foods:

Could 7-Eleven be hearing footsteps from Tesco?

Tesco has been very quiet about their new stores in the west, but word is that they will use Fresh produce as one of their drawing points. 7-11 is smart to respond early.

MNB user Jason A. Trommetter had another thought about 7-Eleven moving to healthier foods:

What's the point of making a sugar-free Slurpee? I always bought Slurpees because they had so much sugar in them. We weren't obese as kids because we ran around the neighborhood until dark. We didn't sit inside and play video games all day. It's not 7-Eleven's fault if kids are obese these days, blame the parents.

One MNB user had some thoughts about deposed Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli:

There was an article in the WSJ on Thursday 1/4 Under the headline "deal & deal makers", entitled the Six Sigma factor for Home Depot. The article refers to the focus Nardelli placed on this management technique and how he championed the system.

I find it interesting that when Larry Johnston came to Albertson's he also championed Six Sigma. He installed a full staff of people to manage the system headed up by a senior VP that reported to him.

Albertson's is now for the most part history. Both of these "champions" learned the system at GE.

I'm curious how Six Sigma contributes to shareholder value, or if there is any relationship to shareholder value at all.

Anybody that bought GE stock 7 years ago for $38.00 a share,is still looking at $38.00 a share today.

Albertsons and Home Depot shareholders experienced a likewise return on their investment in about that same time frame. That is, no return.

I wonder if energized, hard charging, customer oriented people who know their jobs isn't the better solution than encumbering the people with too many gimmicks "to help them" do better.

We wouldn’t be in a position to make a sophisticated analysis of Six Sigma, but your points are interesting.

It seems to us that guys like Nardelli and Johnston are like quarterbacks who are good a playing in specific systems. If the system is superior and matches their talents, then they are able to win.

But they aren’t franchise players – you can’t build a system around them.

We praised Kettle Chips last week, both for new flavors it is testing and the way it is eliciting customer comment online about the new flavors. To which one MNB user responded:

I'm sure they'll be especially pleased when their cash register goes "cha ching" for each person sending in $19.95 for "five 5 oz. bags of People's Choice chips, one of each flavor, "A Taste of Putumayo: Music for Every Palate" world music sampler CD, trivia postcards, voting ballots, food pairing ideas, drink recipes and a premium chip clip." (according to their web site).

'Course, it does include free shipping ....

Great way to get your customers to provide market research data to you and pay you a ton of money for the privilege.

Works for us. You have a problem with that?

We reported last week on stories that the storms out in Colorado are expected to raise beef prices, to which MNB user Lois Bredow responded:

While there has been an impact on beef due to the CO storms, I believe the hype by the media has more of an impact on beef prices than the actual effects of the storm. The talk about it is sure to cause the people who raise the shelf prices to think, “I can boost up the price and pass along the storm to the consumer” long before the higher prices affect his/her prices. It surely happens faster and lasts longer due to the frenzy. We used to be largely beef eaters at our house, but through the years of changes we are now consuming beef one night a week. On the other nights we eat pork, chicken, fish and other seafood. When beef prices are higher, we eat it even less often. What has the beef industry gained by all the hype? Less beef consumption.

We commented last week on a Wall Street Journal story noting that US Senate rules are threatening the existence of the “candy desk,” which traditionally has provided free sweets to legislators.

We wrote: “We’re not sure what we find more distressing – that senators don’t have to buy their own candy, or that the Journal devoted a thousand words to this serious problem of state.

“Actually, the Journal story does serve a serious purpose – it makes us more convinced than ever that most legislators ought to be forced to live life on the same terms that the rest of us do – buying their own groceries, waiting on the same airport lines, taking the same subways, and dealing with the everyday issues that afflict and perplex so many Americans.

How can any of these guys represent us when they don’t even live on the same planet?”

One MNB user responded:

AMEN!!! I've long said (& this just proves it) that we do NOT have adequate representation in the US or State governments. How can a senator or representative vote in the "public's" best interests, when they all simply subscribe to the" What's in it for me" policy.

The Medicare system would be FAT & Overflowing, if the congress had to rely on it, Health care would be something I could afford, if Ted, Tipp, George & Hillary had to live in MY world, & the list goes on.

Bouncing checks, illegal kickbacks, pork barrel projects, illicit intern exploitation, all topped off with a "Get out of Jail FREE" card... where's the "reality" in that. To say that congress is out of touch, is the understatement of the century.

Not sure who (I think George Carlin) said it best... "If pro is the opposite of con, then is progress the opposite of congress?".

Thanks for letting me vent.... My solution.... make elected government a volunteer position. May not be the greatest fix, but it's worth a try.

Another MNB user wrote:

Cannot agree with you more on this topic--they are not on this planet and share are same interests or concerns-As an example-why does anyone in Congress give a damn about Social Security reform when not one of them are a part of it (they have their own separate plan). Move them over to our SS version and we will see the wheels moving and the filibustering disappear!!

And MNB user Kaaryn Thompson wrote:

I totally agree with your statement - let them live life in reality – then maybe, just maybe they would understand those they are supposed to represent.

I say that this is certainly not what our forefathers intended to happen to the government that they established for this great country of ours. I'm sure if they had snacks during their "sessions," one of them brought them from home. Now we have another clue why these politicians make some of the most ridiculous decisions - they're all HIGH ON SUGAR!

Forget the free candy and get down to business.

We were singing the praises of Stella Artois beer the other day, which prompted one MNB user to write:

I didn't read your comments on Stella Artois beer, but I just read someone else's comment on it, and figured I should put in my two cents, as well. I love Stella, perfect for a smooth evening out. But my boyfriend, who's English, has to remind me to watch my intake, as it is notorious for the sneaky high level of alcohol content. In fact, in England, Stella is called "Wife Beater" because blokes will get "pissed" after a night of "lashing" and beat up their wives. The wife of my boyfriend's friend forbids him from drinking it, because he'll come home too drunk and wets the bed in the middle of the night.

I may have risked ruining your perception of Stella, but I think it's funny that you and the other reader rave about it with an air of sophistication, when it has the opposite reputation in England.

Talk about a buzz-kill.

Finally, last Friday we ran a list of wines that we’d recommended over the past years (at the request of some MNB users), which prompted a number of emails.

MNB user Bob Thomas wrote:

Only one from Chile?

We suspect we’ve tried more than one from Chile, but just didn’t write it down. Sorry.

MNB user Marty Gillen wrote:

You have increased your "value add" immensely by sharing the wine recommendations tracked by MNB user Jason Tuffli.

Thanks…and thank goodness for Jason’s efforts.

And MNB user Jim Duban had some questions about the more than 70 wines that were listed: you live upstairs over a liquor store or can't you find a favorite? You're the kind of consumer that brand managers and Budweiser executives hate!

We just love adventure…and we’ve been encouraged in this by our local wine retailer, who always is trying to get us to try new things.

We thought that trying new things was the whole point of eating and drinking.
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