SUPREME COURT HEARS WAL-MART CASE
OTTAWA — Workers from a unionized Wal-Mart store that was shut down by the retailer in 2005 had their case heard by the Supreme Court of Canada last week. The workers, who had won union representation shortly before Wal-Mart Canada closed the store in Jonquierre, Quebec, argued that their rights to form a union, guaranteed under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, were violated by the closing. They are seeking to overturn two lower court decisions in favor of Wal-Mart. The decision by the Supreme Court is expected before September, the union said.
HOUCHENS TO BUY WHITES CHAIN
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Houchens Industries last week said it has agreed to purchase Whites Fresh Foods, a retailer operating 14 conventional grocery stores in Tennessee and Virginia. Terms were not disclosed, and the deal is set to close “in the near future,” the companies said in a press release. Whites, a family-run retailer based in Johnson City, Tenn., said the move would provide needed new investment. Houchens is a diversified employee-owned holding company with 170 conventional supermarkets under multiple brand names; 215 Save-A-Lot stores; and 85 convenience stores.
AHOLD REPORTS Q4 SALES GAINS IN U.S.
AMSTERDAM — A strong holiday season in the U.S. helped Ahold here post quarterly identical-store sales gains at all three of its U.S. banners. Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover posted overall sales of $4 billion, a gain of 2.8%, for the 13-week fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 28. Identical-store sales excluding gasoline increased 4% at Stop & Shop and 1% at Giant-Landover. Ahold's Giant-Carlisle division posted sales of $1.1 billion, a 7.9% quarterly gain, with identical-store sales, excluding fuel, increasing by 5.4%. For the fiscal year, Ahold's U.S. banners combined for $21.8 billion in sales, up 4% over fiscal 2007, with Giant-Carlisle growing sales by 10% and Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover posting a 2.8% annual sales gain. Ahold is expected to report full-year earnings in early March.
WHOLE FOODS RESUBMITS FTC LAWSUIT
AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Markets here said it has resubmitted its case against the Federal Trade Commission in a Washington, D.C., appeals court, saying the move would expedite a resolution in the ongoing dispute over its acquisition of Wild Oats. The retailer last month sued the FTC in U.S. District Court, claiming the regulator violated its due process and equal protection rights. That case has been withdrawn and resubmitted in appeals court. “Filing with the Court of Appeals saves time and we want to move this case forward in the most expeditious manner for all concerned,” Jim Sud, executive vice president of growth and business development for Whole Foods Market, said in a statement. The retailer in its complaint asks the court to bar the FTC from holding an administrative trial on the matter. That trial is set for April 6.
WEGMANS, NUGGET AMONG TOP 10
NEW YORK — Five food retailing chains were named to Fortune magazine's annual list of the 100 best places to work in the U.S., released last week, with Wegmans (No. 5) and Nugget Market (No. 10) in the top 10. Other food retailers include Whole Foods Market (No. 22), Stew Leonard's (No. 53) and Publix Super Markets (No. 88).