News Watch

ALDI AIMING TO EXPAND IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH Discount chain Aldi is planning a major expansion into Texas, a company official told local newspapers last week. Aldi plans to open between 25 and 35 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by fall of 2009 and build a distribution center that could serve up to 100 stores, according to the Star-Telegram newspaper. TREASURE ISLAND EMPLOYEES

ALDI AIMING TO EXPAND IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH

BATAVIA, Ill. — Discount chain Aldi here is planning a major expansion into Texas, a company official told local newspapers last week. Aldi plans to open between 25 and 35 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by fall of 2009 and build a distribution center that could serve up to 100 stores, according to the Star-Telegram newspaper.

TREASURE ISLAND EMPLOYEES VOTE TO DECERTIFY UNION

CHICAGO — Workers at six Treasure Island stores here have voted to decertify the United Food and Commercial Workers union, reports said last week. Of 358 eligible workers, 91 voted to keep the UFCW and 189 were in favor of decertifying, according to the local office of the National Labor Relations Board. The UFCW and Treasure Island have tangled for several years. In 2004, union locals called for a boycott of the chain, citing changes in pension and health benefits and an “anti-union” stance. UFCW Local 881, which represents a majority of the workers at Treasure Island, was not available for comment.

GIANT EAGLE LEAD BIDDER FOR BOTTLED WATER, TEA PLANT

PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle here said it had reached agreement with the trustee in the LeNature's bankruptcy case to purchase that company's bottled water and tea plant. “The purchase of the closed LeNature's plant is a unique opportunity for Giant Eagle to manufacture its own beverages and to provide more than 50 full time jobs in Latrobe [Pa.],” Dan Shapira, special counsel for Giant Eagle, said in a statement. Giant Eagle's offer, reportedly for $20 million, is the lead bid or “stalking horse,” in a court-supervised auction to take place Aug. 9. LeNature's declared bankruptcy late last year amid scandal.

MARSH BEGINS REBRANDING AS ‘THE MARKETPLACE’

INDIANAPOLIS — Marsh Supermarkets here is introducing a new brand — “Marsh the Marketplace” — at selected supermarkets, the company's current ad fliers show. The “Marketplace” banner and branding will be introduced at around 40 of Marsh's larger, full-service stores as part of remodelings over the coming year, the company said. Marsh intends to remodel 70% of its 105 stores within a year, reports said last week, with 40 going to the Marketplace banner and the remainder, including LoBill stores, to the recently introduced Marsh Hometown Markets banner.

KROGER TO LAUNCH LARGEST DAYTONA 500 PROMOTION

CINCINNATI — Kroger Co. here is partnering with the Daytona International Speedway to launch a program offering exclusive packaging commemorating the 50th running of the Daytona 500 race. About 50 major brand-name products from such manufacturers as General Mills, ConAgra, Kellogg and PepsiCo are participating in the event, which organizers called the largest retail promotion in the history of the event. The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2008.

SAFEWAY'S BLACKHAWK NETWORK TEAMS WITH BASEBALL

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Blackhawk Network, the third-party gift card operation owned by Safeway here, said last week that it had made an agreement with MLB Advanced Media to offer MLB.com gift cards at participating retailers. The card, available in $25 and $50 denominations, is redeemable for merchandise, game tickets and other services at MLB.com, the website for all 30 Major League Baseball teams.

TOLEDO UNION RATIFIES NEW CONTRACT WITH KROGER

TOLEDO, Ohio — Kroger workers here voted to approve a new three-year contract, the Cincinnati-based retailer said last week. “This agreement provides wage increases and affordable quality heath care benefits for our associates and their families,” Bruce Macauley, president of Kroger's Great Lakes region, said.