BRUNO'S OUTSOURCES FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING SERVICES
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bruno's Supermarkets here said last week that it would outsource its financial and accounting operations to FMS, a third-party financial-services firm serving independent grocers. The transition is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of this year and includes accounting, financial applications support, bank reconciliation and payroll. Bruno's previously had those services performed by Bi-Lo LLC and its owner, Lone Star Funds, but Lone Star earlier this year split the Bruno's division from Bi-Lo. Outsourcing financial services will allow Bruno's to focus on operations at its 67 stores, the retailer said in a statement. FMS, based in Baltimore, serves around 1,800 independent stores.
UNIFIED TO HIRE AG-SEATTLE WORKERS IN MERGER
LOS ANGELES — A spokesman for Unified Grocers here told SN last week it is likely a large majority of the staff of Associated Grocers of Seattle will be hired when Unified completes its acquisition. The companies reached a preliminary merger agreement in May and earlier this month signed an asset purchase agreement. All that remains for the deal to be finalized is a vote by AG shareholders, which is scheduled for mid-September, the spokesman said. AG employees who wish to work for Unified are being asked to fill out online profiles in which they authorize the prospective owners to do background checks and conduct physical examinations, including drug screening, prior to being formally hired, he added.
AHOLD SETS DATE FOR 4-FOR-5 REVERSE STOCK SPLIT
AMSTERDAM — Ahold here last week said it would execute a four-for-five reverse stock split after trading markets close this Wednesday. Under terms of the split, which was approved during Ahold's annual meeting in June, every five existing stock shares with a nominal value of 0.24 euro will be consolidated into four new shares with a value of 0.30 euro each. A capital repayment also agreed in June of 1.89 euros per existing share (around $2.56) would be made on Aug. 28, the retailer added.
WAL-MART TO PAY $3.9 MILLION IN WAGE SETTLEMENT
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The California Department of Industrial Relations said it has reached an agreement with Wal-Mart Stores here under which the retailer will pay more than $3.9 million in overtime, waiting-time penalties and interest to approximately 50,000 employees, plus civil penalties to the state totaling $198,900. The payments affect all workers who were employed by Wal-Mart in California from Feb. 1, 2002, through Jan. 19, 2007. The department said Wal-Mart had voluntarily notified the California labor commissioner in early 2005 that errors in its payroll processes led to the underpayment of overtime and other wages. It said it intended to correct the payroll calculation problem and pay all affected workers, no matter how small the amount of underpayment, the state said.
LUCKY DISPUTE BOUNCED BACK TO DISTRICT JUDGE
BERKELEY, Calif. — The question of whether Grocery Outlet here is entitled to use the Lucky name was returned by a three-judge panel to the original district court judge without a definitive recommendation on how he should proceed. It will be up to the judge to decide if the matter should go to trial or whether some sort of mediation or out-of-court settlement should be pursued, Eric Lindberg, co-chief executive officer of Grocery Outlet, told SN last week. The ruling by the panel of three Ninth Circuit Court judges comes at a time Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif., is converting 72 former Albertsons stores in the San Francisco Bay Area to the Lucky name (see Page 14). The matter had been referred on appeal to the panel after Albertsons was granted a preliminary injunction barring Grocery Outlet from laying claim to the Lucky name. Representatives of Supervalu, which acquired the premier operations of Albertsons in mid-2006, declined to comment.