business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

• Western New York-based Tops Friendly Markets announced that it is acquiring 21 supermarkets in upstate New York and Vermont from GU Markets LLC, an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the announcement, "This acquisition will bring the number of Tops stores to 153 and will expand Tops’ footprint further into areas of northern and eastern New York State and neighboring northern Vermont. The planned acquisition of the 21 stores follows up on the 2010 acquisition of the Penn Traffic stores."

I'm sure it is just a coincidence, but wouldn't it be interesting if C&S were selling off certain assets as a way of generating cash for a possible Supervalu purchase?

• The Los Angeles Times has a piece about how "voters will soon decide whether to make California the first state in the country to require labels on products such as sweet corn whose genes have been altered to make them resistant to pests.

"Proposition 37 promises to set up a big-money battle pitting natural food businesses and activists against multinational companies including PepsiCo,Coca-Cola and Kellogg. Backers and opponents have already raised nearly $4 million combined for campaigns to sway voters, an amount that's likely to swell into the tens of millions of dollars as the November election approaches."

It is worth reading here.

For me, it is all about transparency. I'd rather know than not. And I get concerned when companies and governments don't want me to know something. It is that simple. Except, of course, it isn't that simple at all...

• The Associated Press reports that Safeway said yesterday that its Q2 net income was down 16 percent, which the company attributed to higher ad costs and a new loyalty program.

According to the story, Safeway "is betting that the 'just for U' program, which offers personalized deals based on past purchases, will help build customer loyalty."

In an investor conference call, CEO Steve Burd "noted that the program will also let Safeway more nimbly fend off competitors by tracking customer buying patterns," the story says, and he "expects 35 percent of Safeway’s business will be from customers signed up for 'just for U'" by the end of the year.

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that Target Corp. "will open slimmed-down stores in the Loop, Seattle and Los Angeles on Wednesday in its attempt to woo urbanites, a path already being charted by Wal-Mart with its smaller Neighborhood Market and Express stores. Two additional scaled-back Target stores will open later this year.

"Called CityTarget, the new stores are about two-thirds the size of a typical Target — there’s also no parking — but the merchandise mix isn’t that different. There are fewer strollers, no sofas on display and a downsized children’s and toy section. Still, city dwellers will find the staples that Target is known for: home goods, apparel, beauty supplies and groceries."

• The Chicago Sun Times also reports that "Walgreen took its medicine Thursday, agreeing to rejoin the Express Scripts pharmacy network and end an impasse that has sent customers to rival stores such as CVS.

"Deerfield-based Walgreen Co. and Express Scripts Holding Co. said they signed a multiyear contract. The nation’s largest drugstore chain said it will start filling Express Scripts prescriptions Sept. 15. Terms were not disclosed.

"Walgreen has been out of the network since January and the two companies have had a public spat for more than a year over reimbursement rates."
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