NEWS WATCH

Retailer Joins Quest for Acquisition of Safeway U.K.afeway U.K. bid proposal to the Office of Fair Trading here on Monday night. This is the latest move in the six-way contest for the supermarket group. Green's offer comes after submissions from British supermarket operators William Morrison Supermarkets, J Sainsbury, Tesco and Wal-Mart/Asda. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the buyout specialist from the

Retailer Joins Quest for Acquisition of Safeway U.K.

afeway U.K. bid proposal to the Office of Fair Trading here on Monday night. This is the latest move in the six-way contest for the supermarket group. Green's offer comes after submissions from British supermarket operators William Morrison Supermarkets, J Sainsbury, Tesco and Wal-Mart/Asda. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the buyout specialist from the United States, has also showed interest but is yet to make a formal offer. Green will now wait to see if the OFT decides to refer all potential bidders for a full-scale Competition Commission inquiry or just the largest trade bidders -- Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury. Originally, Green had hoped for a quick decision to be made on his cash bid last month, but he now faces a battle with the rest of them.

Report: Neighborhood Markets To Jacksonville

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores here has set its sights on Jacksonville, Fla., for at least one of its Neighborhood Market stores, according to local reports. The supercenter operator, which has about 50 of the smaller, food-and drug combo outlets in various markets, recently opened its first Florida location of the concept in Orlando. Wal-Mart could not be reached for comment on its plans for Jacksonville. The company previously said it plans to open about 20 to 25 of the stores this year. Winn-Dixie, which is based in Jacksonville, has about 28% of the grocery market share there.

Ahold in Talks to Sell Santa Isabell Stake In Chile

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here said it is in discussions with Chilean retailer Cencosud S.A. for the sale of Ahold's stake in the Santa Isabel chain in Chile. In a prepared statement, Ahold said the two parties intend to negotiate based on the assumption that the operations have a value of about $150 million, not including liabilities. Ahold said the related book value is about $220 million. Cencosud operates, among other things, the Hipermercados Jumbo chain of hypermarkets.

Peter's Groceries Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Family-owned independent Peter's Groceries here has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of New York, the company said. The company listed assets of $3 million and debts of $9.4 million, including $735,000 owed to secured creditor Penn Traffic, which also is based here. Peter's recently shuttered one store in North Syracuse, leaving it with three supermarkets that it continues to operate.

Grocery-Store Sales Advance 3.9% In January

ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. -- Grocery-store sales totaled $36.6 billion in January, up 3.9% over year-ago levels, according to Census Bureau data reported by Food Institute here. The increase was the largest year-over-year rise since last March, FI said. Also, the Census revised grocery-store sales down 0.2% for December, to $37.96 billion -- 1.7% under December 2001. That brought 2002 grocery-store sales to $431.8 billion, a 1.5% increase over 2001 levels.

OGA Sets Trade Relations Gala for March 22

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Grocers Association here has scheduled March 22 for its second annual Trade Relations Gala at the Hilton Columbus here. The event is billed as the largest annual meeting of its kind. As part of the event, the Ohio Food Industry Foundation, the philanthropic arm of OGA, will hold its seventh annual silent auction to benefit the OFIF scholarship program. In addition, the OGA will present its Pinnacle Award for retail excellence.