business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Food & Wine reports that Subway is adding meat slicers to its 20,000 stores as fast as it can acquire the equipment, which the company said is harder than one would think.

Subway apparently is one of the few sandwich shops that has not sliced meat on site; meats always have been sliced in a central location and shipped to stores.  " But as prices for almost everything have continued to increase — or as essentials have been in short supply — Subway execs say that the on-site slicers will allow them to save money on shipping costs, and because the restaurants will be using unsliced meats, they may be able to use less-expensive vendors," Food & Wine writes.

However, the story also notes that "Subway still isn’t going full Jersey Mike’s: while that chain slices its meat to order, Subway plans on slicing in the mornings and in the afternoons. To start, the restaurants will be slicing their own ham, pepperoni, salami, and turkey."

It is interesting to me that this decision seems to have nothing to do with freshness or quality - it all has to do with speed and cost.  While those two things are important, if you're in the freakin' food business you ought to make food quality and freshness your number one priority.

Maybe it isn't surprising that a food business that has faced questions about whether its tuna fish actually is made from tuna isn't making freshness and quality a priority.  But this story illustrates to me why a) people shouldn't go to Subway, and b) why nobody in the food business should use it as a role model.  It may be big, but its approach is bad.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"CVS Health Corp. is close to an agreement to acquire Oak Street Health Inc. for about $10.5 billion including debt, a deal that would rapidly expand the big healthcare company’s footprint of primary-care doctors with a large network of senior-focused clinics, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

"The companies are discussing a price of about $39 a share, the people said. The deal, if it goes through, could be announced as soon as this week, they said. CVS is scheduled to report earnings on Wednesday."

•  From National Public Radio:

"More than 400 food products — including ready-to-eat sandwiches, salads, yogurts and wraps — were recalled due to possible listeria contamination, the Food and Drug Administration announced … The recall by Baltimore-based Fresh Ideation Food Group affects products sold from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30 in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. As of Friday, no illnesses had been reported, according to the company's announcement."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. has secured investor backing for a more than $1 billion capital raise to stave off bankruptcy and try to turn around its flagging business, people familiar with the matter said.

"The offering of convertible stock and warrants, coupled with a $100 million additional credit line from one of its lenders, is expected to save the troubled retailer from the near-term chapter 11 filing it has warned about for weeks. Bed Bath & Beyond has received investor commitments to raise $225 million of equity capital initially and the rest of the more than $1 billion offering over time, according to people familiar with the matter."

Wow.  These folks are jumping on a sinking ship.  They must see something I don't see … though I cannot imagine they see a retailer with long-term viability.