NEWS WATCH:...BOTTLED WATER SALES BUOY FLOODED RETAILERS...2006 FMI ATTENDANCE STAYS EVEN WITH 2005...UWG CITES PERISHABLES, NEW STORES IN 1Q GAINS

Bottled Water Sales Buoy Flooded Retailersy massive flooding last week said they saw increased purchases of bottled water and other goods, and for the most part they were able to remain open. Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., said it did not close any stores in what was reported to be the heaviest rainfall in 70 years. The company said consumers stocked up on milk, water, eggs and "comfort foods," while

Bottled Water Sales Buoy Flooded Retailers

y massive flooding last week said they saw increased purchases of bottled water and other goods, and for the most part they were able to remain open. Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., said it did not close any stores in what was reported to be the heaviest rainfall in 70 years. The company said consumers stocked up on milk, water, eggs and "comfort foods," while several of its stores donated food to emergency workers. One store reportedly sold about 400 gallons of water per day. Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine, also said it did not close any stores, nor did it have any delivery problems. Sales of bottle water surged after local officials warned of potential shut-downs of public water supplies, a spokeswoman for the chain said. The governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine declared states of emergency.

2006 FMI Attendance Stays Even With 2005

WASHINGTON - Attendance at this year's Food Marketing Institute Show was 21,300, about the same as last year, a spokeswoman for the association told SN. That's about 2,200 fewer attendees than two years ago, however. She said retailer/wholesaler attendance was up 8% over 2005 levels, at 4,000, and the exhibitor count totaled 830 companies, or 80 more than last year. Square footage for the event, which was held at the McCormick Place convention center, was 460,000 gross square feet. Total attendance at FMI and its adjunct shows, was estimated at 35,000. As previously reported, FMI is discussing relocating to different cities beginning in 2008.

UWG Cites Perishables, New Stores in 1Q Gains

LOS ANGELES - Unified Western Grocers here said last week new store growth and growth in perishables and specialty products helped boost financial results for the second quarter and first half that ended April 1. Net income for the 13-week quarter jumped 85.8% to $4 million, while sales increased 2% to $710 million. For the half, net income rose 62.5% to $9.8 million, while sales were up 2.4% to $1.5 billion. The company attributed its performance to new stores opened by members, particularly in Arizona and Nevada, and continued benefits from workers compensation reform in California.

Ohio UFCW Members Ratify New Contracts

CLEVELAND - United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880 here said its members have ratified three new contracts covering 14,000 workers at 150 stores in Cleveland and the Akron/Canton area. The employers involved in the contract were Acme, Giant Eagle, Heinen's, Fishers Foods of Canton and Tops. In a prepared statement, the union said it had "succeeded in the three areas most important to members - health care, pension and wages," but a spokesman declined to comment on specific terms of the agreement. The eight-month negotiations were settled with the assistance of a federal mediator.

Sears Converts 13 More Kmarts to Sears Grand

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - Sears Holdings Corp. here was planning grand opening celebrations this past Saturday for 13 Sears Grand stores that previously had been Kmarts. The stores are similar in their product offerings to the other eight Grand stores the company has opened, but also have some additional features, including internet cafes and play/learning areas for children, a spokesman for Sears told SN. At about 85,000-100,000 square feet, the stores are also smaller than previous Grand stores, which were about 150,000 square feet or larger. The new stores include two in Utah; four in Wisconsin; five in the Kansas City, Mo., area; and one each in South Carolina and Illinois.