LOBLAW DUE FOR MANAGEMENT CHANGE: ANALYST
TORONTO — Loblaw Cos. here has been suffering from widespread out-of-stocks and capital underinvestment and could soon see a shift in top management, according to a report by an analyst also based here. In a report detailing strategic missteps by Loblaw and other major Canadian grocers, Perry Caicco of CIBC World Markets said Loblaw's store shelves have been blanketed with green “out of stock” tags, as the company may have tried to reduce inventory in December to boost its fourth-quarter earnings report, due out Feb. 7. He also said he thinks current management, led by Galen Weston, chairman and a member of the Weston family, which owns a large stake in the chain, could be subject to a shake-up. “The current structure is not likely to be maintained past the second quarter of this year,” Caicco said. Loblaw could not be reached for comment. Other top executives include Allan Leighton, deputy chairman, and Mark Foote, president.
AWG'S HOMELAND SAID TO MARKET WICHITA LOCATIONS
OKLAHOMA CITY — Homeland Stores here may be selling its locations in Wichita, Kan., according to a local newspaper report. Homeland, a division of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., recently shuttered two of its five locations in Wichita, has slashed prices on its private-label goods and has cut back on advance orders, the Wichita Eagle reported last week. A Homeland spokeswoman could not be reached for comment. Dillons, the Kansas division of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, was said to be a likely buyer. A Kroger spokeswoman declined to comment.
PRICE CHOPPER TO REPLACE WILD OATS PRIVATE LABEL
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Price Chopper stores have begun replacing Wild Oats' natural and organic store-brand items with 200 products distributed by Topco under its Full Circle line of natural and organic items. Over the past few months, Whole Foods has begun to discontinue some of the Wild Oats store-brand items that Price Chopper was distributing, Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub told SN. “We'll start off by carrying 200 Full Circle items, but the line is 700 SKUs deep, which is a much broader spectrum than we could have carried with Wild Oats,” she said. The final number of Full Circle grocery and HBC items the grocer will eventually carry is unclear. Price Chopper has been a member of Topco, a $7.3 billion supply cooperative, for a couple of years, according to Topco spokeswoman Virginia Mann.
IGA NAMES THREE U.S. RETAILERS OF THE YEAR
CHICAGO — IGA here said it has chosen three members as U.S. retailers of the year: Mike Carper, of Mick or Mack IGA, Newcastle, Va.; Tim Henderson, Henderson's IGA, Valentine, Neb.; and Gregory Lukeman, IGA Bohemia, Bohemia, N.Y. They were among eight retailers named as finalists last month. They are scheduled to be honored at a banquet March 29 during the IGA Global Summit in Carefree, Ariz. Of the three retailers, the one who is deemed to have achieved superior levels of excellence in IGA retailing based on global standards will be named U.S. international retailer of the year, according to Mark Batenic, chief executive officer of IGA USA.
KROGER ADDS ANOTHER $1B TO STOCK BUYBACK
CINCINNATI — Kroger here said its board of directors has authorized the retailer to repurchase up to $1 billion in company stock. The share buyback program replaces a similar $1 billion buyback authorization begun last June that had around $6 million remaining, Kroger said. Kroger has repurchased $4.8 billion of its shares on the open market since January 2000. Also, Kroger said its board declared a quarterly dividend of 7.5 cents per share.