NEWS WATCH: ROSS STORES BUYS 46 ALBERTSONS LOCATIONS...CREDITORS VOTE TO APPROVE WINN-DIXIE PLAN...PUBLIX, BI-LO SET SIGHTS ON CHATTANOOGA

Ross Stores Buys 46 Albertsons Locationssaid last week it has agreed to acquire 46 Albertsons locations in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma from the private equity group that acquired the weaker Albertsons stores in June. Terms of the transaction, which could close as soon as next month, were not disclosed. The discount clothing retailer said it would invest $1.5 million

Ross Stores Buys 46 Albertsons Locations

said last week it has agreed to acquire 46 Albertsons locations in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma from the private equity group that acquired the weaker Albertsons stores in June. Terms of the transaction, which could close as soon as next month, were not disclosed. The discount clothing retailer said it would invest $1.5 million to $2 million per store to convert the sites to its Ross and dd's Discounts formats by as soon as March 2007. Ross currently operates 766 Ross stores in 27 states and Guam and 26 dd's Discounts stores in California. Cerberus Group, New York, and its partners are seeking to sell off about 174 underperforming Albertsons locations. Mark Husson, an analyst with HSBC Securities, New York, said the sale to a non-supermarket operator was "very good news for the industry, particularly for Safeway, since they seemed to have a lot of overlap."

Creditors Vote to Approve Winn-Dixie Plan

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A federal bankruptcy court judge here late last week was scheduled to begin a confirmation hearing on Winn-Dixie Stores' plan of reorganization. Earlier last week, a majority of the retailer's creditors voted to approve the plan, Winn-Dixie said. All nine classes of unsecured creditors accepted the plan. Some subclasses, including state and county tax collectors and the Internal Revenue Service, rejected the plan but were in the minority.

Publix, Bi-Lo Set Sights on Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Publix Super Markets and Bi-Lo last week revealed plans to invest in new stores here. For Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix, local officials approved plans for Publix to build a 55,000-square-foot store in Hixson, Tenn., scheduled for a 2008 opening. That store - along with an unspecified location planned in the area - would be Publix's first store in the Chattanooga market. Bi-Lo, the Greenville, S.C.-based retailer and market leader, said last week that it would invest $37 million in the market over this fiscal year and next, including the construction of the first Super Bi-Lo prototype in Tennessee, aimed for a November 2007 opening.

Kroger Outsourcing Plan Draws Union Ire

CINCINNATI - A plan to outsource distribution and transportation services at Kroger's Louisville, Ky., warehouse drew fire from union representatives last week, reports said. The Cincinnati-based retailer plans to sell its 776,000-square-foot warehouse to Zenith Logistics, which will own and operate the plant, while Transervice Logistics would run transportation services, according to multiple reports. The Courier-Journal website reported that Teamsters who signed a six-year contract a year ago at the plant would experience deep cuts in wages and benefits under the arrangement. The warehouse serves around 140 stores in Kroger's Mid-South division. Zenith and Transervice operate Kroger warehouses in Cincinnati and Denver. Officials from Kroger and Teamsters Local 89 were not immediately available for comment.

Costco Plans 37 New Stores in 2007

ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Costco Wholesale Corp. here last week said it plans to open 37 net new stores next year, including two in Mexico. The club-store operator also reported slight profit and sales gains for the fourth quarter and fiscal year that ended Sept. 3, after recording some one-time benefits a year ago. Net income for the 17-week fourth quarter was flat at $355.6 million on sales gains of 19%, to $19.9 billion, compared with the 16-week quarter of a year ago. For the year, net income was up 3.7%, to $1.1 billion, on sales growth of 13.6%, to $60.2 billion. Comp-store sales were up 8% for the quarter and year.