News Watch

A&P GIVES FTC TWO-WEEK NOTICE ON MERGER MONTVALE, N.J. A&P here said last week that it has provided the Federal Trade Commission with a two-week notice of its intention to complete its merger with Pathmark Stores. As part of the agreement with the FTC, A&P said it had reached definitive agreements to sell certain stores to other operators. It did not identify the specific sites or buyers. By giving

A&P GIVES FTC TWO-WEEK NOTICE ON MERGER

MONTVALE, N.J. — A&P here said last week that it has provided the Federal Trade Commission with a two-week notice of its intention to complete its merger with Pathmark Stores. As part of the agreement with the FTC, A&P said it had reached definitive agreements to sell certain stores to other operators. It did not identify the specific sites or buyers. By giving notice, A&P said it could complete the deal anytime after Nov. 27, but that it expects the deal to close in early December.

RALEY'S, SAVE MART RATIFY LABOR CONTRACT

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Members of four Northern California locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union voted overwhelmingly last week to approve new, four-year contracts with Raley's Food & Drug and Save Mart Supermarkets. However, negotiations between the union and Safeway are ongoing regarding a contract that expires Dec. 1. The wage settlement totals $1.80 in increases for journeyman food clerks and meatcutters over the four years. The contracts also shortened by 15 months (from 40 months to 25 months) the time required for new hires to move from Plan C medical coverage to Plan B, and it added 12 months to the time required to move from Plan B to Plan A, the union said; the contracts also shortened the time in which members can get health coverage for their children from 19 months to six months. Workers at Save Mart's Lucky Stores approved the contract terms by a 92% vote, while employees at Raley's and its Bel-Air subsidiary voted 89% in favor.

INDEPENDENTS SEEK BETTER TRAINING: SURVEY

ARLINGTON, Va. — Independent grocers are looking to improve their underdeveloped training programs in 2008, according to a new study from the National Grocers Association here. The NGA's annual compensation and benefits survey, based on surveys of independent grocers in 2007, indicates that 74% of respondents do not have formal customer-service training programs, and that 73% do not have an identified career path for employees who might want to consider a career with their organization. However, when asked about which areas human resource departments would give the greatest emphasis in 2008, 64% of respondents said employee training and development, the NGA survey said. The survey also includes details on the types of medical, retirement and benefit plans that will help companies set effective human resources programs, the NGA said. Details are available at the NGA website, Nationalgrocers.org [3].

HOUCHENS SAID TO BUY FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRM

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Houchens Industries here, operators of more than 400 food outlets and a variety of diversified businesses, has reportedly signed a definitive agreement to acquire Hilliard Lyons, a Louisville-based brokerage and financial services company. The deal is scheduled to close early next year. PNC Financial Services, Pittsburgh — which acquired Hilliard Lyons in 1998 — said it was selling the company to Houchens for an undisclosed sum. Houchens officials could not be reached for comment.

KROGER TO LEASE NEW DC IN SOUTHERN CALIF.

CINCINNATI — Kroger Co. here has reportedly agreed to lease a 552,000-square-foot facility that will be built in Paramount, Calif., a few miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Representatives of Kroger and its Southern California-based subsidiary, Ralphs Grocery Co., could not be reached for comment. However, a spokesman for Birtcher Development & Investments, Irvine, Calif., told SN the facility will be a dry grocery warehouse for which Kroger signed a 30-year lease valued at $207 million. The facility will be part of a 26.4-acre site, the developer said.