Newswatch

GROCER HONORED AT OBAMA ADDRESS WASHINGTON Jeff Brown, president and chief executive officer of Brown's Super Stores, Philadelphia, was the guest of honor seated in first lady Michelle Obama's box during President Obama's State of the Union Address last week. The president cited the need for supermarkets in inner-city areas. Brown has been working with the Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), a

GROCER HONORED AT OBAMA ADDRESS

WASHINGTON — Jeff Brown, president and chief executive officer of Brown's Super Stores, Philadelphia, was the guest of honor seated in first lady Michelle Obama's box during President Obama's State of the Union Address last week. The president cited the need for supermarkets in inner-city areas. Brown has been working with the Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), a program initiated in Pennsylvania that combines state and private money to provide grants and loans for grocery store development in underserved areas. Tom Zaucha, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, said, “NGA applauds President Obama's decision to highlight the work Jeff Brown has done with FFFI. Jeff Brown is a shining example of giving back to his community and how independent retailers dedicate themselves to serving the interests of members of their local communities, resulting in the development of strong, lasting relationships with both customers and employees.”

ALDI TEXAS INVASION BEGINS MARCH 19

BATAVIA, Ill. — Aldi's expansion into Texas will begin with 11 store openings scheduled for March 19, the retailer here said. The 11 stores, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, are the first of at least 27 area stores the discounter intends to open in Texas this year. A second wave of 10 stores is to open April 23, and six additional stores are slated for a May 14 opening. Two stores in Texas — Saginaw and Duncanville — are listed for a fall 2010 opening.

SHRINK IMPROVEMENTS PACE METRO Q1

MONTREAL — Better store operations leading to improved margins helped Metro Inc. increase sales and earnings despite deflation and heavy price competition during its fiscal first quarter, the retailer here said last week. Officials said customer counts were up but basket sizes decreased during the quarter that ended Dec. 13, due mainly to deflation of around 1% overall. Same-store sales were flat, while EBITDA increased by 7%. “We didn't increase pricing, we're as competitive as ever,” Eric LaFleche, chief executive officer, said during a conference call discussing results. “The improvement comes from better store operations — lower shrink, more private-label penetration.” Net earnings totaled $92.2 million (U.S.), an increase of 21% (or 5.5% when adjusted for one-time expenses). Sales of $2.5 billion were up 1.7%.

SAM'S CLUB CUTS 10,000 DEMO JOBS

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam's Club eliminated 10,000 demo associate positions and appointed third-party marketing company Shopper Events to facilitate product sampling, Wal-Mart Stores here said last week. The “Tastes and Tips” demo program will include integrated demo stations, signage, uniforms and product selling. Shopper Events is the company that manages Wal-Mart's “Bright Ideas” in-store demos.

COLO. ALBERTSONS WORKERS TO VOTE

DENVER — Union employees of Albertsons stores here are voting on a new contract proposal from the retailer. According to United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, votes were held last week in Denver and Colorado Springs and are scheduled to be held this week in Grand Junction. Details of the contract offer were not immediately available. A union spokesman told SN last week that Colorado Safeway workers who turned down an offer in December are still without a contract.