NEWS WATCH: PUBLIX POSTS 10.6% SALES GAIN; PROFITS RISE 27.4%...GIANT TO EXIT MANUFACTURING, SELL HEADQUARTERS...RALEY'S ADOPTS EDLP STRATEGY; 5,700 ITEMS REDUCED...

PUBLIX POSTS 10.6% SALES GAIN; PROFITS RISE 27.4%aid last week sales increased 10.6%, to $5.1 billion, and comparable stores increased 6.4%, during its fiscal first quarter ended March 26. The company earned $259.1 million, or $1.50 per share during the quarter, an increase of 27.4%. Publix's stock, which is available only to employees and directors and is not publically traded, increased 3.9% to

PUBLIX POSTS 10.6% SALES GAIN; PROFITS RISE 27.4%

aid last week sales increased 10.6%, to $5.1 billion, and comparable stores increased 6.4%, during its fiscal first quarter ended March 26. The company earned $259.1 million, or $1.50 per share during the quarter, an increase of 27.4%. Publix's stock, which is available only to employees and directors and is not publically traded, increased 3.9% to $66.50, the company added. Gross profit as a percent of sales increased to 27.2%, from 27%, Publix said.

GIANT TO EXIT MANUFACTURING, SELL HEADQUARTERS

LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food said it would close or sell three manufacturing plants, several warehouses and its corporate offices here before the end of the year as part of its ongoing integration with Stop & Shop. In addition, Giant said it would transfer control of its Super G stores in southern New Jersey to Stop & Shop, which will convert the stores to its banner later this year. Giant said it expects to sell its dairy plant in Jessup, Md., and would close or sell its ice cream and ice cube manufacturing facilities there. Giant said it would close its frozen food distribution center in Jessup and transfer frozen distribution to an unnamed third party. Its health and beauty care and nonfood products DCs in Landover will be closed and operations will be transferred to American Sales Co., Buffalo, N.Y., an affiliate of Giant's parent company, Ahold. Following those sales or closures, Giant plans to move its remaining staff to a new location in Prince George's County, Md.

RALEY'S ADOPTS EDLP STRATEGY; 5,700 ITEMS REDUCED

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Raley's here said last week it would abandon its high-low pricing strategy in favor of an everyday-low-price format, and lowered prices on around 5,700 items at its 125 Raley's, Bel Air and Nob Hill stores in the first phase of that program. "This isn't a temporary promotion. This is a long-term commitment -- a change in the way we do business," Bill Coyne, president and chief executive officer, said in a message published on Raley's Web site, adding that the change will save customers time, money and storage space used to stockpile sale items. Several retailers, notably Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, and Fresh Brands, Sheboygan, Wis., have adopted similar programs in recent months.

BEST YET MARKET TO LAUNCH INTERNET SHOPPING

NEW YORK -- Best Yet Market, an eight-store independent grocery chain, said last week it has launched an Internet shopping option serving customers on the east side of Manhattan, where it will compete with FreshDirect and several store-based online grocers. The company said it has invested in a fleet of refrigerated cargo vans, which will deliver to four Manhattan ZIP codes with orders pulled from the shelves of Best Yet's location in Astoria, Queens. The Web site service is run through MyWebGrocer.com, New York.

AHOLD TO SELL WILSON FARMS C-STORE DIVISION

ZAANDAM, Netherlands -- Ahold here said last week it has agreed to sell its chain of convenience stores operated by its Tops Markets division to a corporation formed by Nanco Enterprises and Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill and Co. The division operates 198 convenience stores under the Wilson Farms and Sugarcreek names in upstate New York. A purchase price was not disclosed. Wilson Farms had been a division of Ahold's Tops supermarket chain since 1969. Tops acquired Sugarcreek in 2000. Wilson Farms and Sugarcreek were the last remaining convenience stores operated by Ahold. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter, Ahold said. Nanco is an investment company with holdings in food service, real estate and retail. Bruckmann is a private equity investor with holdings in the restaurant and consumer goods categories.