News Watch

LABOR TALKS SET TO RESUME AGAIN THIS WEEK SAN DIEGO, Calif. Negotiations on new Southern California labor contracts were scheduled to resume here today after union representatives walked out of bargaining sessions last week. After weeks of a media blackout on the substance of the talks between seven locals of United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons, details were revealed

LABOR TALKS SET TO RESUME AGAIN THIS WEEK

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Negotiations on new Southern California labor contracts were scheduled to resume here today after union representatives walked out of bargaining sessions last week. After weeks of a media blackout on the substance of the talks between seven locals of United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons, details were revealed last week about the employers' health care proposals currently on the table, which apparently prompted the union walkout. According to an employer website, the chains are proposing to use the health benefit trust fund, which has a surplus, to improve and maintain benefits under the new contracts — an approach a union spokesman said would bankrupt the fund.

HARRIS TEETER PROFIT UP 16.9% IN 2ND QUARTER

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ruddick Corp. here said operating profit at its Harris Teeter chain was up 16.9% in the second quarter that ended April 1, to $38.2 million, vs. year-ago results. The company said results were driven by new store openings and comparable-store sales gains of 4.87% for the period. Sales increased by 12.7% to $805.6 million for the quarter. The chain opened 10 net new stores since the second quarter of a year ago, and has 12 new stores planned for this year. Through two quarters, Harris Teeter posted operating profit of $73.3 million, up 11.6%, on a sales gain of 11.9%, to $1.6 billion. Comps rose 4.09% for the 26-week first half.

ARDEN REPORTS INCREASED SALES, EARNINGS IN 1Q

LOS ANGELES — Arden Group, parent company of Gelson's Markets, said sales and earnings increased for the first quarter that ended March 31. Net income climbed 23.8% to $6.4 million, and sales rose 2% to $120.4 million. Same-store sales also rose 2%. The company, which as 18 supermarkets in Southern California, said part of the sales increase resulted from Passover falling in this year's first quarter, whereas it fell in the second quarter of 2006.

KIMCO REAPS PROFITS FROM ALBERTSONS INVESTMENT

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. — Kimco Realty here has turned a $51 million investment in unwanted Albertsons stores into a $56 million quarterly profit, the real estate company said. Kimco is a member of the consortium of real estate and private equity funds known as Albertsons LLC that purchased “non-core” Albertsons stores in the company's breakup early last year. In an earnings call, Kimco said the stores had an operating loss of $17.5 million, but that deficit was more than made up for in store sales and refinancings.