NEWS WATCH: BAG-TAX PROPOSAL GAINS STEAM IN SAN FRANCISCO...FOUR NEIGHBORHOOD MARKETS OPEN IN LAS VEGAS...FINARD TO MANAGE 27 GIANT-ANCHORED CENTERS

BAG-TAX PROPOSAL GAINS STEAM IN SAN FRANCISCOAssociation here told SN last week it believes the industry is in for a tough fight opposing possible legislation in San Francisco to charge grocery customers up to 17 cents or more per paper or plastic bag. A recommendation for such a charge was made by the city's Commission on the Environment to the city's Board of Supervisors, which has authorized a

BAG-TAX PROPOSAL GAINS STEAM IN SAN FRANCISCO

Association here told SN last week it believes the industry is in for a tough fight opposing possible legislation in San Francisco to charge grocery customers up to 17 cents or more per paper or plastic bag. A recommendation for such a charge was made by the city's Commission on the Environment to the city's Board of Supervisors, which has authorized a study due April 30 on the feasibility of imposing the charge. "But it will be very difficult for a vote to go the industry's way because San Francisco is a very liberal city," Paul Smith, CGA's vice president, government relations, told SN, "and it's a hostile environment there for anyone attempting to make money, whether it's a large operator like Safeway or a smaller group like Molly Stone's or Andronico's." The Los Angeles City Council is also studying a variety of similar options, Smith said, although those are aimed primarily at reducing the amount of plastic bags.

FOUR NEIGHBORHOOD MARKETS OPEN IN LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS -- Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., opened four of its Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market stores here last week. The stores, which are the first Neighborhood Markets in the Las Vegas market, are 39,960 square feet and employ 80 associates each. Wal-Mart operates nine discount stores and 12 supercenters and five Sam's Club locations in Nevada.

FINARD TO MANAGE 27 GIANT-ANCHORED CENTERS

BURLINGTON, Mass. -- Finard & Co. here has been awarded the management contract for 27 retail shopping centers anchored by Giant Food in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The centers are owned by Ahold and were previously managed by GFS Realty, the real estate division of Giant-Landover. Finard has opened a regional office in Landover, Md., to oversee the 3 million-square-foot portfolio and hired Donna Rinaldo as senior property manager and Moises Vasquez as regional facilities manager.

WEGMANS CHAIR DONATES $5 MILLION TO RX SCHOOL

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Robert B. Wegman, chairman of Wegmans Food Markets here, has donated $5 million to be used for the creation of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y., the company and the college said. The school is expected to open in 2006 with an inaugural class of 50 students. It would be the fifth pharmacy college in New York state. "Like so many categories of health care professionals, there are simply not enough pharmacists. This will help address that issue," Wegman said in a statement. Construction of a new building to house the pharmacy school, including classrooms, labs and a dean's office, is expected to begin this fall.

GIANT-CARLISLE DONATES $1 MILLION FOR HOSPITAL

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Giant-Carlisle here last week said it would donate $1 million to the Penn State Children's Hospital, Hershey, Pa. The gift will contribute to the expansion of the Hershey Medical Center's campus, including new outpatient clinics and a primary care center, helping to improve the environment for a facility treating an estimated 250,000 patients annually, the hospital said. Giant supports the Hershey Medical Center through the Children's Miracle Network, raising funds through the sale of paper candle and balloon icons in 38 area locations, as well as with proceeds from an annual golf tournament.

LAS VEGAS WORKERS RATIFY NEW LABOR CONTRACT

las vegas -- Albertsons, Safeway-owned Vons and Kroger-owned Smiths food clerks and meat cutters, voting on separate contracts here, ratified the new agreements by "a big majority," Mike Gittings, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 711, told SN. The contract maintains the same health care coverage as the previous contract, in which the employers pay all premiums, and imposes no employee co-pays; the contract does not impose a second tier for new hires but slows the progression for them to achieve top wage rates.