News Watch

A&P BUYS WINE RETAILER, HIRES CO-FOUNDER MONTVALE, N.J. A&P here last week said it had acquired the five-unit Best Cellars wine chain in New York City and named one of the chain's co-founders as senior director of A&P's own beer, wine and spirits division. Joshua Wesson, the Best Cellars co-founder, will report to Rebecca Philbert, senior vice president of merchandising, supply and logistics. Wesson's

A&P BUYS WINE RETAILER, HIRES CO-FOUNDER

MONTVALE, N.J. — A&P here last week said it had acquired the five-unit Best Cellars wine chain in New York City and named one of the chain's co-founders as senior director of A&P's own beer, wine and spirits division. Joshua Wesson, the Best Cellars co-founder, will report to Rebecca Philbert, senior vice president of merchandising, supply and logistics. Wesson's “creativity and expertise will be instrumental in elevating the look, feel, quality and value of our beer, wine and spirits offerings,” she said. Best Cellars is known for its customer-friendly merchandising based on flavor profiles. A&P currently operates 19 freestanding wine and liquor stores and has 12 in-store departments. A new prototype of A&P's beer, wine and spirits concept is slated to open in January in Westwood, N.J. Under terms of the acquisition, the purchase price will be paid after four years based on the growth of A&P's wine and spirits business.

LAYOFFS SEEN AT WILD OATS HQ: REPORT

BOULDER, Colo. — Whole Foods Market is expected to lay off 52 former Wild Oats Markets headquarters staff here in the coming weeks — 26 this week and 26 at the end of December — according to a report in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper. The layoffs would leave 103 workers at the former headquarters, which has now become a regional office for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. Also, Wild Oats stores in the region have begun sourcing produce through Whole Foods' Denver warehouse, and some have added Whole Foods' 365 brand private-label products, the newspaper reported. Whole Foods could not be reached for comment.

WILLIS STEIN CONFIRMS DOMINICK'S INTEREST

CHICAGO — Willis Stein & Partners here, the parent of Roundy's Supermarkets, would be interested in bidding for Dominick's if Safeway decides to sell the chain, a spokesman for Willis Stein told SN last week. Roundy's in February said it planned to expand into Chicago, where Dominick's is the No. 2 chain behind Jewel. Reports earlier this month indicated that Safeway had been approached by Willis Stein about acquiring Dominick's, and also that Safeway was considering the sale of its Canadian division. Safeway declined to comment on those reports. Meanwhile, Willis Stein is also still considering the possibility of selling Roundy's, the spokesman said. Local reports quoted Avy Stein, one of the firm's co-founders, as saying private equity groups have expressed interest in Roundy's.

LARGEST FOOD CITY STORE OPENS IN TENNESSEE

ABINGDON, Va. — K-VA-T Food Stores here last week opened the doors to what it called the largest store it ever built — a 55,000-square-foot Food City in Kingsport, Tenn. The superstore was developed at the same site of a store that was demolished earlier this year, the company said. Features of the new store include an in-store cafe — a first for the chain — along with a video department, a pharmacy and a ValuCare health clinic. An upper level in the store includes a demonstration kitchen and meeting facilities, the company added.

WEST VIRGINIA KROGER WORKERS APPROVE NEW DEAL

CINCINNATI — Union-represented workers at 41 Kroger stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky have voted to approve a new contract, the retailer here said last week. The four-year contract, approved by 3,250 associates represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, Charleston, W.Va., is effective immediately. “This agreement provides wage increases and affordable quality health care benefits for our associates,” Kroger said.