ANNUAL SALES UP, PROFITS DOWN FOR UNIFIED
LOS ANGELES — New-store growth and improved performance of perishable and specialty categories lifted annual sales at Unified Grocers 6.1% to $3.1 billion, the cooperative wholesaler here said. Net earnings of $14.4 million decreased 6.1% from fiscal 2006 levels, but when adjusted for litigation recoveries in 2006 increased by more than 10%, Unified said. “If you factor out the unusual items that boosted our results last year, our core business experienced significant improvement in 2007,” Al Plamann, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. The results do not include results from Associated Grocers of Seattle, which Unified acquired just as its fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
BASHAS' FILES DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST UFCW
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Citing defamation stemming from “win at all costs” union tactics, Bashas' said it has filed suit against the United Food and Commercial Workers. The suit, filed in Arizona Superior Court, names the union, operatives of Local 99, Phoenix, and what Bashas' called a false-front organization, “Hungry for Respect,” which Bashas' said intentionally interfered with the supermarket chain's businesses practices “to extort an agreement for union representation.” The suit charges union operatives with delivering false and defamatory statements about the retailer's treatment of employees and the condition of stores. “In the 75 years that our company has served Arizona, we've never been the target of such strong-arm tactics, and such ugly, malicious lies,” Mike Proulx, Bashas' president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
SUPERVALU TO ACQUIRE 8 ALBERTSONS IN WYOMING
MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu here said that it would acquire eight Albertsons stores in Wyoming from Albertsons LLC for an undisclosed sum. The stores were among the units acquired by Albertsons LLC, the Boise, Idaho-based consortium led by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management as part of Supervalu's purchase and breakup of the former Albertsons Inc. in 2005. Supervalu said it would continue to operate the stores — located in Casper (two stores), Cheyenne (two stores), Cody, Gillette, Laramie and Sheridan — under the Albertsons banner as part of its 243-store Intermountain West Division. Supervalu currently operates Albertsons stores in Rock Springs and Jackson, Wyo. The deal is expected to close in late January.
EQUITY INFUSION TO SPEED EXPANSION FOR SUNFLOWER
BOULDER, Colo. — Sunflower Farmers Markets, the natural grocery chain founded and led by Wild Oats founder Mike Gilliland, has raised $30 million in equity financing from PCG Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in La Jolla, Calif., the retailer said. The funding comes in advance of a major expansion of the company's retail locations in both existing and new geographic markets, the company said. Plans include doubling the number of stores by the end of 2009. Sunflower said it would launch new locations at a rate of up to eight stores per year, creating a company portfolio of 50 stores throughout the West within five years.
WHOLE FOODS STORES TEST BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS
AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods' two stores here stopped offering plastic bags to customers in what the retailer termed a first step toward a companywide plastic bag ban in the new year. “Let's face it, plastic bags fill landfills, harm our water systems and wildlife, and litter our roadsides and communities. We are discontinuing the use of these bags in support of our core value of caring for our communities and our environment,” Seth Stutzman, Whole Foods Market's Southwest regional vice president, said in a statement. Whole Foods said it would sell resusable bags made of recyclable materials for 99 cents at all stores. It will also offer bags made of recycled paper for free.