News Watch

PROFITS DIVE AS WEIS SWALLOWS COST INCREASES SUNBURY, Pa. Profits at Weis Markets here fell by 38.6% in the fourth quarter as soaring wholesale costs outpaced retail price adjustments. Sales of $603 million for the 13-week period, which ended Dec. 29, increased 4.4%, and same-store sales increased by 4.9%, the retailer said last week. But profits as a percentage of sales tumbled to 24.7% from 26%

PROFITS DIVE AS WEIS SWALLOWS COST INCREASES

SUNBURY, Pa. — Profits at Weis Markets here fell by 38.6% in the fourth quarter as soaring wholesale costs outpaced retail price adjustments. Sales of $603 million for the 13-week period, which ended Dec. 29, increased 4.4%, and same-store sales increased by 4.9%, the retailer said last week. But profits as a percentage of sales tumbled to 24.7% from 26% in the same period a year ago. Weis in a statement said the profit decline occurred as the company “continued aggressive promotional activity while keeping its overall pricing competitively low during a time of significant wholesale food inflation.” For the 2007 fiscal year, Weis reported $2.3 billion in sales, an increase of 3.3%, while net income fell by 9% to $51 million, or $1.89 a share.

UFCW 8 ABSORBS CENTRAL CALIFORNIA LOCAL

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Members of two California locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers have voted to approve their merger, according to UFCW 8-Golden State here. With the addition of UFCW Local 45-D, which mostly represents workers in the distillery industry, UFCW 8 represents more than 30,000 members working in 54 of California's 58 counties. Local 8 is the product of 11 mergers in recent years, which the union said provides added leverage in contract negotiations.

HAGGEN TO KEEP LARRY'S NAME ON ACQUIRED STORE

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Haggen here plans to buy the Larry's Market in Redmond, Wash., and retain the Larry's banner “for the time being,” a chain spokeswoman told SN last week. Haggen plans to stock some of its private-label lines in the store, she said, and it also expects to expand the frozen food section and to consider adding a drive-up pharmacy lane. Larry's was an upscale chain with six stores that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and liquidated its assets in 2006.

UFCW'S HANSEN ASKS PRINCE FOR TESCO MEETING

WASHINGTON — Joseph T. Hansen, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers here, asked the United Kingdom's Prince Andrew to help arrange a meeting with Tesco so the union can help the retailer gain a better understanding of the communities it serves. He made the request in a letter that the union said was hand-delivered to the prince, who is in the U.S. as an emissary for British trade. Tesco officials could not be reached for comment.

JUDGE UPHOLDS DISBARMENT IN DEMOULAS CASE

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the disbarment of two attorneys accused of seeking to discredit a judge in a 1995 battle over inheritance of the Demoulas Market Basket fortune, reports said last week. Gary C. Crossen and Kevin P. Curry, who represented Arthur T. Demoulas in the case, were prohibited from practicing law for eight years. The attorneys had sought to find evidence that the judge in the case, Maria Lopez, had acted inappropriately in her ruling that settled a dispute between two factions of the Demoulas family. She has since resigned for other reasons, according to the Boston Globe.

WAL-MART'S ASDA EMPLOYEES EARN CHRISTMAS BONUS

LONDON — On the heels of what its chief executive called its “best ever” holiday season, employees of Wal-Mart's Asda chain here will share in a bonus pool worth more than $30 million (U.S.), Asda said last week. The bonus will be distributed this month among 127,000 employees with more than six months' experience at Asda's 352 stores and 24 distribution centers in the United Kingdom. The average payout will be around $359 (U.S.), with full-time workers at top-performing locations earning as much as $615, Asda said.