NEWS WATCH

FLEMING NAMES TURNAROUND EXPERTS TO KEY POSITIONShired two principals from AlixPartners, Southfield, Mich., a turnaround and restructuring firm, to fill a pair of key financial positions during the company's Chapter 11 reorganization. Becky Roof was named interim chief financial officer, and Mike Scott was named interim treasurer, effective immediately. Both Roof and Scott previously worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers,

FLEMING NAMES TURNAROUND EXPERTS TO KEY POSITIONS

hired two principals from AlixPartners, Southfield, Mich., a turnaround and restructuring firm, to fill a pair of key financial positions during the company's Chapter 11 reorganization. Becky Roof was named interim chief financial officer, and Mike Scott was named interim treasurer, effective immediately. Both Roof and Scott previously worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York. In related news, Fleming has requested permission from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., to close up to 40 stores if it is unable to sell them. Fleming had already slated 27 other stores for closure. The company had previously disclosed plans to seek buyers for most of its 100 retail locations,

KROGER TO START LABELING SELECT FARM-RAISED SEAFOOD

CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. here said last week all farm-raised salmon and trout sold by them will include the words "color added" on all labels. Additionally, labels for all processed products including those two fish will be modified with identical language. The change comes after Kroger, Safeway and Albertsons were named in a lawsuit charging they are neglecting to notify shoppers that the farmed salmon is raised on pigmented feed that artificially mimics the natural red flesh of wild species. In announcing the plan, Kroger officials noted that, while "the supplements do not affect the taste or nutritional value of the fish, we are modifying the product labels to share this information with our customers."

KROGER'S NATURAL AND ORGANIC BRAND GOES NATIONAL

CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. here last week unveiled the national launch of Naturally Preferred, its own brand of premium-quality natural and organic products. With approximately 140 items offered under the Naturally Preferred label, the rollout ranks as one of the larger brand launches in Kroger's 120-year history, Kroger said. Although certain Naturally Preferred items have been available in Kroger-owned stores around the country for more than a year, Don McGeorge, executive vice president, said Kroger has now achieved the "critical mass" necessary to ensure the long-term success of the brand. He also said Kroger would expand the brand to other categories. Products now include baby food, pastas, cereal, snacks, milk and soy items.

CITARELLA OPENS IN FORMER BALDUCCI'S SITE

NEW YORK -- Citarella, a gourmet seafood and specialty-food retailer based here, has opened in the former site of the landmark Balducci's upscale food store in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood, according to Robert K. Futterman & Associates, the real-estate broker for Citarella. Balducci's parent company, Sutton Place Gourmet, Washington, said earlier this year it would close the site. Citarella, founded in 1912, operates three other stores in New York City and two on Long Island, and also has a restaurant in midtown Manhattan.

QUEEN ANNE, ADMIRAL THRIFTWAY STORES TO CHANGE NAME

SEATTLE -- Food Markets Northwest here said last week it is changing the names of its Queen Anne Thriftway and Admiral Thriftway stores to the Metropolitan Market banner. Terry Halverson, president and chief executive officer, FMNW, said the change would eliminate confusion between those stores and other Thriftways. The company also said it plans to open three new stores: one, scheduled to open in fourth-quarter 2003, on the site of a store formerly operated by Albertsons, Boise, Idaho; another, scheduled to open first-quarter 2004, at the site of a store formerly operated by QFC, now a subsidiary of Kroger Co., Cincinnati; and a third, still under review by local authorities, on a site of a store formerly operated by Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif.