LAWSUIT ALLEGES A&P FAILED TO PAY OVERTIME IN NEW YORK
last week, charging the retailer failed to pay employees overtime wages and deleted hours worked from time records in violation of New York labor law. The complaint, filed in New York Supreme Court, seeks a class of current and former employees of A&P, Food Emporium and Waldbaum's stores in New York state for the past six years, said Rachel Geman, an attorney with Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein and co-lead counsel for the case. Plaintiffs are seeking "all the remedies available to them, including the money we allege they should have been paid but weren't," said Geman, adding that the number of plaintiffs could exceed 1,000. Last month, a federal court approved a $3.1 million settlement to 900 New York City A&P employees who made a similar complaint under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. A spokesman for A&P, Montvale, N.J., declined to comment.
WAL-MART, MASTERCARD REACH DEBIT-CARD SETTLEMENT
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores here last week began accepting MasterCard debit cards for customer purchases, ending a four-and-a-half-month standoff with MasterCard International, Purchase, N.Y. Though the companies did not discuss details of their settlement, industry observers speculated that the credit card company agreed to reduce interchange transaction fees for purchases made with its signature debit cards. Those fees were at issue late last year when Wal-Mart, based here, said it would no longer accept MasterCard debit purchases beginning in February. Wal-Mart's actions began after it and other merchants last year settled a class-action suit against MasterCard and Foster City, Calif.-based VisaUSA that allowed stores to choose whether to accept the issuers' debit cards, as well as their credit cards.
CHANGES IN WIC PROGRAM FAVOR FOOD RETAILERS: FMI
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate and House voted to re-authorize the Women, Infants and Children program last week with several reforms that are favorable to the industry, according to Food Marketing Institute here. Both the Senate and House Agricultural Committee reports on re-authorizing the program contain a provision that will allow consumers to use their WIC benefits to purchase private-label products, something FMI said it has long advocated. Other provisions in the bill would allow retailers to more quickly re-apply for WIC licenses after a change in ownership and the creation of a national Universal Product Code database for all states.
SOBEYS READIES REVAMP OF PRIVATE-LABEL OFFERINGS
STELLARTON, Nova Scotia -- Sobeys here last week said it was planning a complete overhaul of its store-brands program and would reveal more details about the strategy in the next few months. The Canadian retailer and wholesaler said it has hired Belinda Youngs as general manager of consumer brands and innovation to oversee the private-label initiative. She comes to Sobeys after a long career with British retailer J Sainsbury. The company revealed Youngs' hiring during a conference call last week discussing its fourth-quarter results. Net income fell 5.7% for the fourth quarter ended May 1, to $38.4 million Canadian, or about $28.2 million U.S. Sales grew 9.1%, to about $2 billion U.S. For the year, net income fell 11.5%, to about $122.3 million U.S., on a sales gain of 6.1%, to $8.1 billion U.S.
STATER BROS. $700 MILLION NOTE OFFERING TO FUND DC
COLTON, Calif. -- Stater Bros. Holdings here said it is offering $700 million in new senior notes -- $525 million of 8 1/8% senior notes due in 2012 and $175 million of floating rate senior notes due in 2010. The company said proceeds from the offering, together with cash on hand, will be used to purchase or redeem all of the company's outstanding 10 3/4% senior notes due in 2006 and pay costs associated with the construction of a new distribution center; pay a dividend; repay a promissory note; and pay expenses associated with the offering and purchase or redemption of the existing 10 3/4% notes.