AHOLD TO BUY DEBT; S&P UPGRADES
AMSTERDAM — Ahold here last week said it would offer to repurchase $690 million in notes due July 2010. The buyback, to be funded out of existing cash balances, offers $1,053.75 per $1,000 principal amount and expires July 1. In a separate development, Standard & Poor's last week upgraded Ahold's corporate credit rating, noting progress it made in sales and debt control. The ratings agency boosted its corporate grade to “BBB” and also lifted its grade on the company's senior secured notes to “BBB-” — a step ahead of “junk” status, reports said.
ACME WORKERS REJECT PROPOSAL
PHILADELPHIA — Unionized workers for Acme Markets in southeastern Pennsylvania last week voted to reject a contract offer from the Supervalu-owned chain. The vote among 3,000 members was 95% opposed to the deal, which Acme has called its final offer. The retailer said it plans to impose the new deal unilaterally on July 10 if workers did not agree to the new deal. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, which represents the workers at 41 Acme stores, urged Acme to return to the bargaining table, calling Acme's proposal “devastating” to workers.
MARSH, TOPCO RESOLVE LAWSUIT
SKOKIE, Ill. — Topco Associates here said it has resolved a vendor supply agreement dispute and lawsuit filed by Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets. The lawsuit, filed in March by Marsh Drugs, was an attempt to withdraw from a five-year supply agreement signed with Topco in 2005 in order for Marsh to purchase cheaper drugs and other products from McKesson Corp. AmerisourceBergen was named in the lawsuit as a third-party beneficiary of the supply agreement. Topco last week said that Marsh would continue to participate in the contract agreement but declined to offer further details about the resolution. Marsh could not be reached for comment.
GROUP CRITICAL OF WAL-MART CLAIM
WASHINGTON — The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus told Wal-Mart Stores last week that it should stop running TV ads claiming customers can save $700 a year by shopping its stores. The admonition came after a complaint by San Antonio-based H.E. Butt Grocery Co. Wal-Mart said the savings were based on a 2007 study by Global Insight Inc. and that it was no longer running the ads, but the NAD said the message was misleading. The NAD, which acts as a self-policing group for the advertising industry, said it found that another claim by Wal-Mart that its prices were “unbeatable” should include more conspicuous price comparisons, although the specific complaint about those ads was found to be without merit.
UKROP'S TRIPLES COUPONS IN ROANOKE
RICHMOND, Va. — Ukrop's Super Markets here will begin triple-couponing Wednesdays next month at its struggling Roanoke store — a new wrinkle in its promotional efforts following the introduction of triple-couponing Saturdays at that location earlier this year. The Roanoke Times reported that Scott Aronson, vice president of marketing, said the 58,000-square-foot Roanoke store, which opened two years ago, is “not in a sustainable position right now.”