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• In Toronto, the Globe and Mail has an interview with Michael Medline, who took over as chief executive officer of parent Empire Co. Ltd. and Sobeys two months ago, in which he says the company has a "byzantine" structure that " let down its customers in its product offerings and marketing."

"We will take aggressive and bold actions to address the issues in our business, and we are prepared to make the tough decisions and [take] decisive actions necessary to see Empire return to sustainably profitable growth,” Medline told analysts yesterday in a conference call.

The story notes that "Sobeys has been struggling since its acquired Safeway Canada in late 2013, in part due to what Mr. Medline acknowledged wasn’t a smooth integration, touching off a series of problems that often resulted in bare shelves and angry customers. Sobeys’ internal issues, including a switch in private labels and new sourcing for its fruits and vegetables, were exacerbated by a downturn in the economy in Western Canada as well as a growing trend towards discounting, which made Sobeys higher prices stand out."

“I’m not going to mince my words,” Medline said. “I am disappointed in how we have approached our customers. Our ability to understand our customers and effectively communicate with them has been sorely missing.”

• Add Neiman Marcus to the list of traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers that now need to make dramatic moves because of shriveling sales and profits.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Neiman Marcus has "hired financial advisers to explore strategic alternatives, including a potential sale or debt restructuring." While the company did not say whether it was in talks with anyone, the said it had reached out to Canada's Hudson's Bay - owner of Saks and Lord & Taylor - to see it if was interested in acquiring its 42 stores and online business.

Hudson's Bay did not comment on the report except to say that it is willing to selectively evaluate opportunities when they arise.

• The Orlando Sentinel reports that Southeastern Grocers-owned Winn-Dixie "is asking customers to switch to the Plenti rewards initiative starting today and throwing out its old fuel-perks program. The Plenti program will let customers collect points and redeem them for credit at other businesses. Among those are gas stations affiliated with ExxonMobil. Other partners include AT&T, Macy’s and Chili’s.

"Customers will have to sign up for the new program to continue getting sale prices in stores that are provided only to users of the store’s loyalty program."

Winn-Dixie said that "only about 20 percent of old cardholders were using the rewards program at Southeastern Grocers stores."
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