NEWS WATCH: LUND FOOD HOLDINGS ACQUIRES RICK'S MARKETS...INDIANA WORKERS APPROVE NEW KROGER CONTRACT...CONSUMER GROUP HITS SAFEWAY OVER LABELING ISSUE

LUND FOOD HOLDINGS ACQUIRES RICK'S MARKETS has acquired Rick's Markets, a three-unit operator in the Twin Cities, a spokeswoman for Lund told SN. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Lund, which owns the 20-unit Lunds and Byerly's banners in the region, will continue to operate the stores as Rick's Markets for now, but could eventually consider converting them to a Lunds format, the company

LUND FOOD HOLDINGS ACQUIRES RICK'S MARKETS

has acquired Rick's Markets, a three-unit operator in the Twin Cities, a spokeswoman for Lund told SN. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Lund, which owns the 20-unit Lunds and Byerly's banners in the region, will continue to operate the stores as Rick's Markets for now, but could eventually consider converting them to a Lunds format, the company said. The three stores range from about 12,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet, and lack the upscale presentation that distinguishes Lunds and Byerly's in the market, the spokeswoman told SN. Rick's Markets had been owned by local entrepreneur Rick Blomquist, who is no longer involved in the company.

INDIANA WORKERS APPROVE NEW KROGER CONTRACT

INDIANAPOLIS -- Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700 here voted in favor of a new contract with Kroger, Cincinnati, after negotiators from the two sides reached an agreement on terms earlier this month. The new contract includes concessions from the union on some health care issues, but it also allows new hires to progress to a higher wage rate more quickly. The 4 1/2-year contract covers 4,000 workers in 58 stores and unifies what had been three separate contracts covering clerks, meat-cutters and an outlying group of stores.

CONSUMER GROUP HITS SAFEWAY OVER LABELING ISSUE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Consumer Federation of California, lobbying for country-of-origin labels for beef sold in the state, last week accused Safeway of selling unlabeled beef from Canada, which has not banned a feeding practice linked to mad cow disease. Unlabeled Canadian beef also is probably being sold elsewhere in the state, said Richard Holober, spokesman for the CFC. In response, Safeway noted the company complies with all state and federal labeling laws. "We source our beef products from reputable suppliers who adhere to the highest standards for safety," the Pleasanton, Calif.-based retailer said in a statement. "USDA allows for the importation of certain meat products from Canada. While we purchase only a small quantity of that product, all of it meets strict federal requirements for food safety, wholesomeness and quality." The CFC-sponsored legislation has been sent to the California State Assembly's Appropriations Committee, a source from the group said.

DRUG STORE DEVELOPED BY FORMER VONS CHAIR OPENS

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. -- A high-end drug store that was the final creative venture of the late Roger E. Stangeland opened here last week under the direction of his daughter, Cyndi Olsen. Stangeland, former chairman and chief executive officer of Vons Cos., Los Angeles, a few years prior to its sale to Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., died in late February. In addition to a full-service pharmacy, the store features a full-service silk floral department with custom design; a bath and body section; cards, stationery and paper products; and an extensive selection of beach accessories. The store is the second unit opened by Quality Drug Corp., which operates a similar unit called Lido Drug in Newport Beach.

ANOTHER PENSION FUND VOWS TO VOTE AGAINST BURD

WASHINGTON -- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Pension Plan last week said it would join several other pension funds that will withhold their votes from the slate of Safeway directors at this year's annual meeting, based on the company's performance and alleged conflicts of interest. "We will withhold votes from Chairman and [Chief Executive Officer] Stephen Burd for Safeway's poor performance and unsuccessful acquisitions and from [William] Tauscher and [Robert] MacDonnell for their inherent conflicts of interest," AFSCME said in a prepared statement. At least six individual state and local municipal pension funds also have said they will withhold their votes.