WAL-MART VOWS AGGRESSIVE HOLIDAY PRICE STANCE
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here last week promised a pricing blitz over the holiday season after reporting quarterly sales that were lower than the retailer expected. “We are implementing the most aggressive pricing strategy ever,” in categories such as electronics and toys, Lee Scott, chief executive officer, said in a conference call. While overall U.S. sales in the Wal-Mart Stores division increased by 7.8%, supercenter food sales during the quarter grew by more than 12%, and exceeded overall U.S. comparable-sales gains of 1.8%, the company said. For the three-month period ending Oct. 31, earnings of $2.6 billion increased 12% on total sales of $83.5 billion, Wal-Mart said.
FORMER VP AL GORE TO SPEAK AT 2007 FMI SHOW
WASHINGTON — Food Marketing Institute here said it has contracted with former Vice President Al Gore to be a keynote speaker at its 2007 convention in Chicago. The convention will be FMI's last in that city before it begins rotating to different venues and switching to an alternating format, with a traditional exhibitor show in odd-numbered years and an education-only event in even-numbered years. The 2008 education conference in Las Vegas will focus on leadership skills, among other topics yet to be determined, FMI said.
HANNAFORD BROS. NAMES NEW ADVERTISING AGENCY
SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Hannaford Bros. here has awarded its advertising account to Boston-based agency Allen & Gerritsen, Hannaford said last week. The retailer was also considering DeVito/Verdi; Tierney Communications; and Berenter, Greenhouse & Webster, according to Pile & Co., which conducted the review. A&G was recently dropped by Pathmark, Carteret, N.J.
METRO EYES MORE SYNERGIES FOLLOWING A&P BUY
MONTREAL — Metro here last week said it expects to exceed its target of $61.5 million (U.S.) in 2007 synergies from the acquisition of A&P's Canadian operations. In reporting its results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended that Sept. 30, the company said it achieved synergies from the acquisition greater than the $39.5 million it had projected for 2006. The company posted a 57.2% gain in net income for the fourth quarter, to $69.3 million, on a sales gain of 37%, $2.34 billion. Excluding exception items, net income rose 41.4%. For the year, net income was up 32.9%, to $222 million, on a sales gain of 64.7%, to $9.6 billion.
JUDGE REPRIMANDS RALPHS AT SENTENCING HEARING
LOS ANGELES — A U.S. District Court judge here said last week he was “surprised, disturbed and disappointed” by the actions of Kroger-owned Ralphs Grocery Co. during the 20-week strike-lockout in Southern California three years ago, saying its crime of illegally rehiring hundreds of locked-out union members had the effect of “eroding public confidence in the collective bargaining system.” Judge Percy Anderson made his remarks at a hearing at which he formally sentenced the company to three years' probation. Ralphs last week paid a $20 million fine and $50 million in restitution to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and its members after pleading guilty to various criminal charges earlier in the year.
DELHAIZE GROUP TO SELL CZECH STORES FOR $128M
BRUSSELS — Delhaize Group here said last week it had agreed to sell Delvita, its Czech business, to German retail group Rewe, for around $128 million. Rewe operates Billa supermarkets and Penny Market discount stores in the Czech Republic. Delhaize said the chain had sales of around $361.5 million and losses of $1.9 million in fiscal 2005. Delhaize entered the Czech market in 1991 and sold its Slovakian Delvita stores to Rewe a year ago.