completed its sale of the Bi-Lo and Bruno's chains to an affiliate of Lone Star Funds. Lone Star, Dallas, announced a deal to buy the chains, which operate 455 stores in the Southeastern United States, late last year for $560 million. This could increase to $660 million if Ahold meets certain targets related to the disposition of inventory and assets. The sale served Ahold's strategy to reduce debt and increase financial strength in the wake of an accounting scandal at Ahold's U.S. Foodservice division, the company said. Ahold acquired Bi-Lo, Mauldin, S.C., in 1977 and Birmingham, Ala.-based Bruno's in 2001.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Price Chopper here said it would build a new $15-million frozen foods warehouse in Rotterdam, N.Y. The 152,000-square-foot facility would replace existing facilities in Colonie, N.Y., and Waterford, N.Y., with 72 jobs at those facilities transferred to the new location. The facility would service all of Price Chopper's 107 stores, officials said. Plans to build the warehouse have been submitted to local authorities for review, the chain said. Following approvals, it anticipates construction would begin this spring and be complete by year-end.
LOVELAND, Colo. -- The National Labor Relations Board said it would allow workers at a Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express Center here to vote on joining the United Food and Commercials Workers union. Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., is expected to appeal that decision on the grounds the auto care unit represents only a small portion of its workers, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman told SN. According to the NLRB, a vote could be scheduled within 25 to 30 calendar days. If workers vote to join the union, it would represent the first successful Wal-Mart organizing drive since 2000, when meat department workers at a Texas Wal-Mart gained UFCW representation. The retailer moved chainwide to case-ready meat shortly afterward.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Newspapers reported last week that Wal-Mart Stores here is looking to boost its presence in the United Kingdom by bidding to acquire Littlewoods, a 186-unit chain of clothing and household-goods stores. The London Telegraph reported that Wal-Mart, through its Asda chain in the United Kingdom, made a bid of around $940 million. However, it was unclear whether Littlewoods' owners would sell the chain, reports said.
ROME -- Food industry experts and economists urged retailers to drive improvement in food safety, and share their knowledge and strategy in that area with others at the CIES International Food Safety Conference here last week, CIES said. An emphasis on private standards for food safety can drive consumer tastes away from just price and toward price and quality, said Linda Fulponi, senior economist for the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development. Patrick Wall, professor at the Centre for Food Safety in Dublin, Ireland, urged a consistent approach focusing on effective communication, reminding attendees that food labels do not absolve companies of responsibility. Roland Vaxeraire, director of quality and sustainable development at France-based Carrefour, detailed that company's four-step approach to food safety, and said that although consumers may be less concerned about food safety than five years ago, new crises will occur.
SUNBURY, Pa. -- Weis Markets here declared a quarterly dividend of 28 cents per share to all shareholders as of Feb. 11. The dividend will be payable on Feb. 25. Weis operates 157 stores in six Mid-Atlantic states and SuperPetz, a chain of 33 pet superstores in 11 states.