NEWSWATCH

Advantage Sales & Marketing, Irvine, Calif., said last week it has signed a letter of intent with Eastern Sales & Marketing, Columbia, Md., to merge the two companies. d would make it the first national sales and marketing agency.ESM would operate as the Northeast region of Advantage, with Dick McCready, ESM chairman, taking the title of regional president and reporting to Sonny King, Advantage chairman

Advantage Sales & Marketing, Irvine, Calif., said last week it has signed a letter of intent with Eastern Sales & Marketing, Columbia, Md., to merge the two companies.

d would make it the first national sales and marketing agency.

ESM would operate as the Northeast region of Advantage, with Dick McCready, ESM chairman, taking the title of regional president and reporting to Sonny King, Advantage chairman and chief executive officer.

ESM said last week it has signed a separate agreement in principle to acquire Food Marketing Services, Pittsburgh -- a merger it expects to close about Aug. 1.

Ahold, Zaandam, Netherlands, said last week it is adding 10 stores in South America through its two joint ventures there. In Brazil, Bompreco increased its store count to 97 with the acquisition of Petipreco Supermercados, a six-store chain in the state of Bahia whose sales total approximately $90 million (U.S.). In Peru, Santa Isabel will increase its store count to 24 and move into the capital city of Lima after signing a 10-year lease agreement to operate four Disco stores (a separate company from the Disco chain Ahold operates in Argentina); those four stores have sales of $20 million (U.S.), Ahold said.