Newswatch

WEIS' COMPS UP 6.2%, BUT PROFITS SLIP Weis Markets here said targeted promotions and transaction-building programs helped drive up third-quarter comparable-store sales by 6.2%, although profits were hurt by a one-time charge and increased operating costs. Net income was down 25%, to $8.1 million, on a sales gain of 6.9%, to $603.9 million, for the 13-week quarter, which ended Sept. 27.

WEIS' COMPS UP 6.2%, BUT PROFITS SLIP

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets here said targeted promotions and “transaction-building programs” helped drive up third-quarter comparable-store sales by 6.2%, although profits were hurt by a one-time charge and increased operating costs. Net income was down 25%, to $8.1 million, on a sales gain of 6.9%, to $603.9 million, for the 13-week quarter, which ended Sept. 27. Private-label sales rose 4.6% in terms of units. The company, which operates 155 stores in the mid-Atlantic region, took a $1.7 million pretax impairment charge for a store closure, and noted that it incurred a 28.8% increase in health and business insurance costs, a 55.2% increase in fuel costs and a 15% increase in interchange fees. Through three quarters, net income was down 29%, to $30 million, on sales gains of 5.1%, to $1.8 billion. Comps were also up 5.1% year-to-date.

A&P LAUNCHES PREMIUM PRIVATE BRAND

MONTVALE, N.J. — A&P, SuperFresh and Waldbaum's stores have begun introducing products under the Hartford Reserve label — a new store brand featuring “premium artisan products at value prices,” the retailer here said. The product launch began with the introduction of an in-store baked pie under the Hartford Reserve label. The pie, made from more than a pound of fruit and five varieties of apples, comes in a striking new black box. Waldbaum's sales fliers last week were advertising the new item for $4.99 — $4 off its $8.99 regular price. A&P described Hartford Reserve as an exclusive brand “created to bring back the nostalgic taste of the golden age of manufacturing, when products were specialized and manufactured by artisans who took pride in their individual craft.”

WINN-DIXIE ADDS EXTENDED DISCOUNTS

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Winn-Dixie Stores here said last week that it has begun the second phase of its “Good 'Til” pricing program, offering reduced pricing on more than 1,000 items through Jan. 7. Winn-Dixie introduced the extended discount program this summer for shoppers using its Customer Rewards card. The new prices broke in Winn-Dixie circulars beginning last week, the company said.

FTC NAMES JUDGE IN WHOLE FOODS CASE

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission here has appointed an administrative law judge to oversee its administrative antitrust case against Whole Foods Market's acquisition last year of Wild Oats Markets. Whole Foods had objected to the possibility that FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch would preside over the administrative hearing, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 16, 2009. Instead, the FTC appointed Acting Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell to oversee the hearing, which is separate from the federal court case the FTC is pursuing.

KMART DROPS GROCERIES AT 4 STORES

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings will remove grocery departments at four Super Kmart stores and convert them to the nonfood Big Kmart format, a company spokeswoman told SN last week. Separately, the company announced last week that a Super Kmart store in Phoenix will close early next year as part of a 12-store round of Sears and Kmart store closings. The conversions, set to take place in December, are set for Super Kmart stores in Burlington, N.C.; Greensboro, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Thornton, Colo., the spokeswoman said. The Phoenix Super Kmart is set to close in January, along with 11 other Sears and Kmart locations, including a St. Petersburg, Fla., Sears Essential, which also offered groceries.