business news in context, analysis with attitude

• Published reports say that Bi-Lo has begun offering at 80 of its more than 200 stores two different bags pegged as being environmentally friendly – a canvas bag selling for $2.99, and a recycled plastic bag selling for 99 cents. Customers using the bags are given a five-cent discount at checkout.

• Meijer has launched a new own-label line of electronics – including DVD players, televisions, stereos and clock radios – described as offering “excellent performance, modern styles and features at a great price.” The brand name being used is “gfm,” and the brand slogan being used is “technology within reach.”

• The Sunday Times reports that the board of directors at J. Sainsbury has requested that Delta Two – the investment fund controlled by the Qatari royal family – make a “best and final offer” in its quest to acquire the British retailer. The reports are that Sainsbury will not open its books to the fund for due diligence until it is satisfied that Delta Two’s offer is sufficient and that the fund’s debt structure is such that it can support the acquisition.

• The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) reportedly has signed a deal with Starbucks to operate coffee shops in selected A&P Fresh and Gourmet/Fine Foods units, starting in November 2007.

• The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Coca-Cola Co. has discontinued US sales of its cola-and-coffee beverage, Blak, after 17 months – but plans to continue selling its overseas and in Canada, where the response has been more favorable.

• The Financial Times reports this morning that Starbucks has made a deal to start selling its branded coffee for through Kraft's "Tassimo" home coffee “pod” machines. The move is said to be one way of compensating for slowing US same-store sales, according to the FT story.

• France-based Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer, announced last week that it will sell some of its real estate portfolio as well as other assets – including its Portuguese hypermarkets and all of its Switzerland operations to fund a buyback of its publicly traded stock shares. The retailer is expected to generate more than $4 billion through the sale of roughly 20 percent of its assets. In addition, Carrefour said it would spin off 60 percent of its property assets into a separately listed company in 2008, allowing it to provide significant returns to investors.

• Ahold said last week that it has decided to delist its company from the NY Stock Exchange, noting that the majority of its shares held by US investors have been purchased on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange. The move should take effect on or about September 20.
KC's View: