News Watch

WINN-DIXIE ISSUES STOCK, ADDS HISPANIC STORES JACKSONVILLE, Fla. New stock in Winn-Dixie Stores here began trading under the symbol WINN on the Nasdaq exchange on Dec. 22. The stock, which had traded at more than $16 on a when issued basis earlier last month, debuted at $14.40 per share, valuing the company at approximately $785 million. The shares traded down slightly last week, to under $14 per

WINN-DIXIE ISSUES STOCK, ADDS HISPANIC STORES

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — New stock in Winn-Dixie Stores here began trading under the symbol WINN on the Nasdaq exchange on Dec. 22. The stock, which had traded at more than $16 on a “when issued” basis earlier last month, debuted at $14.40 per share, valuing the company at approximately $785 million. The shares traded down slightly last week, to under $14 per share. Separately, the retailer, which emerged from bankruptcy last month, said it has added 55 stores to its Hispanic Neighborhood Merchandising program, including 30 in the Miami market and 25 in the Orlando area. Stores in this program — currently 103 of Winn-Dixie's 522 stores — are specifically merchandised to the Hispanic consumer and use the tag line, “El sabor de tu pais” (the flavor of your country).

WHOLE FOODS CONSIDERS NEW FORMATS, SERVICES

AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market here hopes to reaccelerate its growth by expanding services and optimizing market penetration with smaller-format stores, among other initiatives, according to a report issued by Goldman Sachs. The report singled out several prepared-food innovations at the company's newest Dallas location, including a fresh juice bar, a taffy puller, a cotton candy spinner and an in-store barbecue pit. The Dallas store also includes a day spa. Whole Foods will also introduce improvements to its meat supply chain in the near future, possibly indicating an expansion of the company's vertically aligned, source-verified meat purchasing programs. Also, a report last week in the Washington Business Journal said a new Whole Foods planned for Fairfax, Va., would include five separate seating areas for each of five in-store prepared-foods sections. In addition, the store will offer a wine-tasting room where customers can use “wine debit cards.” The 65,000-square-foot store is scheduled to open this month.

UNIFIED WESTERN POSTS 49% PROFIT GAIN FOR 2006

LOS ANGELES — Unified Western Grocers here said its net income for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 increased 49%, to $16.1 million, on revenue growth of 3%, to $2.95 billion. The cooperative wholesaler attributed the growth to new stores opened by its members, and continued sales growth in perishables and specialty products divisions. “Looking ahead, we believe that our retail members are well-positioned to capitalize on new opportunities in the marketplace and will continue to expand and grow their businesses by differentiating themselves from other retail competitors,” said Alfred Plamann, president and chief executive officer.

FAMILY DOLLAR ACCELERATES EXPANDED FOOD ROLLOUT

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores here will accelerate the rollout of an expanded selection of shelf-stable foods “focusing on quick-prep and ready-to-eat products,” the company said in a conference call with investors discussing its first-quarter results. Howard Levine, chairman and chief executive officer, said the company would have the expanded assortment available in about 2,000 stores by the end of its fiscal year next August. The company also expects to have coolers in 5,000 of its stores by year-end. In the first quarter, which ended Nov. 25, the company reported preliminary net income of $54.4 million, up 5.8% over year-ago results. Sales also grew 5.8%, to $1.6 billion. The company said the results are preliminary because of a previously announced review of its stock-option grant policies.

HEDGE FUND S.A.C. REVEALS STAKE IN PATHMARK

CARTERET, N.J. — S.A.C. Capital, a Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund run by Steven A. Cohen, has taken a 5% stake in retailer Pathmark here, the fund and associated investors revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last month. SAC is a $12 billion group of funds known for high returns. Pathmark's largest shareholder is Yucaipa Cos., Los Angeles, which has a 40% stake in the retailer.