NEWSWATCH

SOBEYS SALES BOOST EMPIRE'S Q2 STELLARTON, Nova Scotia A 7% increase in sales at Sobeys stores including a 5.4% jump in same-store sales helped boost net earnings by 12.5% during the fiscal second quarter for Empire Cos., Sobeys' parent company said last week. The positive growth trend in same-store sales and earnings reflects a steadfast focus on day-to-day execution, the impact of merchandising

SOBEYS SALES BOOST EMPIRE'S Q2

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — A 7% increase in sales at Sobeys stores — including a 5.4% jump in same-store sales — helped boost net earnings by 12.5% during the fiscal second quarter for Empire Cos., Sobeys' parent company said last week. “The positive growth trend in same-store sales and earnings reflects a steadfast focus on day-to-day execution, the impact of merchandising innovations and disciplined implementation of cost and productivity initiatives,” Paul Sobey, president and chief executive officer of Empire, said in a statement. Net earnings for the 13-week period ending Nov. 1 were $50.3 million (U.S.) on sales of $3 billion.

HEALTH LEADS HOME-MEALS TREND

SEATTLE — A year-end user survey released last week by Allrecipes.com here revealed that healthy eating concerns trumped saving money for home-cooking enthusiasts, and that they believe food safety should be the main focus of government's role in food. Nearly one-third of the more than 1,300 surveyed users of the food-focused social networking site answered: “We can eat healthier/have more control over the foods we eat,” when asked to specify their greatest motivation for preparing meals at home. “Saving money” was the next most popular answer, with about 25% of the vote, followed closely by “I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.” Asked about the role the U.S. government should play with regard to food, almost two-thirds (65.5%) said, “Monitor food safety,” well ahead of “Provide food for those who can't afford it” (11.1%), and “Help farmers” (9.7%).

WAL-MART IN $54M WAGE SETTLEMENT

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here has agreed to pay up to $54.25 million to settle a class-action wage and hours lawsuit in Minneapolis, the retailer and prosecutors announced in a joint statement last week. The class includes approximately 100,000 current and former hourly associates who worked at Wal-Mart Stores and Sam's Clubs locations in Minnesota between Sept. 11, 1998, and Nov. 14, 2008. Wal-Mart also agreed to maintain various electronic systems, surveys and notices that will further compliance with wage and hour policies and Minnesota laws. The settlement is subject to approval by the trial court.

UKROP'S DOWN IN ROANOKE: REPORTS

RICHMOND, Va. — Ukrop's lone store in Roanoke, Va., needs a substantial increase in business to stay afloat, local news reports said last week. The retailer, based here, expanded to Roanoke 18 months ago, but a slow economy has delayed development and leasing at the shopping center where the store is located, and has put a tax incentive program to build that center in jeopardy, according to a report in the Roanoke Times. According to the article, Bobby Ukrop, president and chief executive officer, has sent letters to area residents encouraging them to shop and saying a lack of co-tenants has made business difficult.

PA. GROUP TO HONOR ACME'S SPIRES

PHILADELPHIA — Judy Spires, president of Acme Markets, Malverne, Pa., will be the 2009 recipient of the Paradigm Award, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce here said last week. She is a 30-year veteran of the supermarket industry. Spires, who will be presented with the award at an event in March, was selected for showing dedication to an expanding business and to charitable organizations, as well as for her support of women in the workplace, the Chamber said.