GREENPEACE: PROGRESS IN SEAFOOD
WASHINGTON — Greenpeace last week said it's “seeing signs of progress” among supermarkets ranked in its annual survey of seafood sustainability practices. The environmental activist group gave Wegmans Food Markets its highest rating, citing the retailer's moves to discontinue sales of blue fin tuna, Atlantic halibut, orange roughy, all species of shark, as well as marlin, sailfish and spearfish. Ahold USA was ranked second, and Whole Foods Market came in third. Target, Safeway, Harris Teeter and Wal-Mart Stores also received passing grades. Thirteen other supermarket chains were given failing grades.
SENTENCING IN AWG FRAUD CASE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A woman who pleaded guilty to four counts of money laundering while defrauding Associated Wholesale Grocers here was sentenced to six months' home detention and three years' probation, reports said last week. Arlene Francis was among four defendants facing federal charges related to a scheme to submit phony invoices to AWG for services that were not rendered. Another defendant, Aponte Gomez, was sentenced to 37 months in prison, while two others are awaiting sentencing.
PIERCE'S EX-PRESIDENT PLANS STORE
MADISON, Wis. — Jeff Maurer, the former president of Pierce's Markets, intends to open a new store here serving the University of Wisconsin community, he told SN last week. The 18,000-square-foot store, as yet unnamed, is to locate on the ground floor of a residential housing complex catering to students and faculty near campus and is expected to open in November, Maurer said, adding that he left Pierce's, based in Baraboo, Wis., late last year to pursue new opportunities. He said he has been studying the shopping habits and buying preferences of the local community to inform merchandising decisions at the new store and has hired an advertising agency to work on branding and naming the concept.
THREE RALPHS EXECUTIVES ACQUITTED
LOS ANGELES — Three former executives of Kroger-owned Ralphs Grocery Co. here have been acquitted of fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from the 2003-2004 strike-lockout in Southern California. All three were indicted in September on charges they had re-hired locked-out workers using false names and Social Security numbers during the 141-day labor dispute. The three who were acquitted are Patrick McGowan, a former regional vice president for the chain, who has retired, and two former zone managers — Scott Drew and Karen Montoya. In separate cases, Ralphs and two former district managers had pleaded guilty to similar charges. The two former district managers are awaiting sentencing, while Ralphs agreed in 2006 to pay $20 million in fines and put $50 million into a fund to reimburse workers and the union.
KMART OFFERS DISCOUNT TO JOBLESS
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart has introduced the Kmart Smart Assist Savings Card in Michigan, offering 20% discounts on more than 1,200 private-label grocery and drug store items to unemployed shoppers in the state. Verifiably unemployed Michigan residents who register at kmart.com  can receive the discount card, which is valid for up to six months. The Kmart program follows a similar launch last month by Spartan Stores in which the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer and wholesaler is offering discounts to some laid off General Motors workers.