business news in context, analysis with attitude

• Here's an interesting tidbit from Time, which looks at the "oddball assortment of products, places, businesses, and brands that somehow benefited from their association with Letterman and his program—even when Dave was making fun of them."

In fact, Time has come up with a top 10 list ... and number four is the Best Bagger Championship: "Year after year, the winner of the National Grocery Association’s Best Bagger Championship won a $10,000 check plus, in all likelihood, the opportunity to compete in a grocery bagging challenge against David Letterman on his show."

• Meijer announced today that "it has signed an agreement to acquire Aureus Health Services, a national specialty pharmacy and health services company based in Pittsburgh, Pa. and a portfolio company of BelHealth Investment Partners, to enhance its customer offerings, particularly to patients with complex chronic conditions." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• Smart & Final yesterday launched a new branding program that focuses on the "&" in its name and logo, saying that the new campaign "aims to tell the story of what the value-oriented food and staples retailer has become through its growth initiatives and will highlight the company's heritage."

In the case of Smart & Final, it means focusing on things like "business & households," "quality & prices," "traditional & organic products," "convenient & fresh."

"We are rebranding to ensure customers know who we are, what we offer and what we stand for so that they can choose Smart & Final as their primary shopping destination." says Smart & Final CMO Eleanor Hong.

Reuters reports that while Tesco's new CEO Dave Lewis has had a tough first six months trying to dig the company out of an enormous competitive hole that was created by predecessors Sir Terry Leahy and Philip Clarke, there was some compensation for his efforts. In this case, we mean "compensation" quite literally - Lewis got paid the equivalent of $6.4 million (US) for those six months of work.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that "protesters hailing from as far away as Kansas City and New York City participated in a demonstration at McDonald's Oak Brook headquarters Wednesday, urging that hourly wages for the burger giant's front-line workers be increased to $15 an hour ... The Oak Brook police estimated the crowd at about 2,000 people. Organizers had projected that upward of 5,000 would participate in the demonstration."

The story notes that while McDonald's is raising wages at its corporate stores, "Heidi Barker, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said the company does not have the power to raise wages of workers employed by its franchisees. She said it's possible that franchisees will follow the company's lead and also raise wages of front-line workers."
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