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DEAN & DELUCA PLANS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STORE Gourmet retailer Dean & DeLuca, based here, said last week that it will enter Southern California in 2009 with a 23,000-square-foot location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. In addition to the traditional selection of prepared foods, artisan cheeses, specialty meats and cafe offerings, the planned store also will offer hard-to-find, small-production

DEAN & DELUCA PLANS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STORE

NEW YORK — Gourmet retailer Dean & DeLuca, based here, said last week that it will enter Southern California in 2009 with a 23,000-square-foot “flagship” location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. In addition to the traditional selection of prepared foods, artisan cheeses, specialty meats and cafe offerings, the planned store also will offer “hard-to-find, small-production wines from the best vineyards in California,” the company said. Dean & DeLuca currently operates 15 stores in New York; Washington, D.C.; Napa Valley, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Kansas City, Kan.

PATHMARK DEAL WOULD RAISE A&P CREDIT RATING

NEW YORK — Although the capital structure of a merged A&P and Pathmark has not yet been determined, Standard & Poor's here last week said the pending deal should generate a better corporate credit rating than the “B-” level it currently ranks A&P. S&P made the comments last week while changing its outlook on A&P, Montvale, N.J., from “developing” to “positive” — the first step toward a rating upgrade — citing proceeds from its sale of Sav-A-Center in New Orleans and what it called “limited downside” of the pending Pathmark merger.

INVESTORS ACQUIRE 17 COLORADO ALBERTSONS STORES

DENVER — Hampton Retail Investors here has acquired 17 dark Albertsons stores in Colorado from Albertsons LLC, and intends to renovate and re-lease the space to non-grocery users, Scott Robinson, managing partner of Hampton, told SN last week. The stores were vacated by Albertsons last year after being acquired by the private equity consortium in the Albertsons buyout. They include 11 sites in the metro Denver area, three sites in Colorado Springs, and sites in Loveland, Greeley and Security. Robinson said the company was talking with a Hispanic-focused grocer for two or three sites but said the majority would likely be subdivided and made into space for dollar stores, office superstores and other uses. Hampton acquired the sites in partnership with Inland West Real Estate Partners, Chicago. A purchase price was not disclosed.

MERCHANDISING INITIATIVES BOOST SALES AT SOBEYS

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Effective selling and merchandising initiatives helped Sobeys post a 3.5% gain in same-store sales during its fiscal first quarter, which ended Aug. 4, officials said. Sales of $3.33 billion (U.S.) increased 4.1% from the same period a year ago, while the retailer contributed around $43.5 million in earnings to Empire Cos., its parent company, during the quarter. Bill Mc-Ewan, president and chief executive officer of Sobeys, in a conference call said the retailer has made “tremendous progress” in its efforts to convert IGA stores to its Sobeys or Foodland banners.

SAFEWAY ROLLS OUT SOLAR POWER IN CALIFORNIA

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway here said it would install solar panels atop 23 stores in California in an effort to reduce pollution and promote renewable energy. The program kicked off this month in Dublin, Calif., where solar energy provides 20% of the store's average power usage and 48% of its usage during peak hours, Safeway said. The entire 23-store solar program will remove 10.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air, the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road annually or planting 4,000 acres of pine trees, Safeway said.

AG-SEATTLE SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE UNIFIED DEAL

LOS ANGELES — Shareholders of Associated Grocers, Seattle, voted to approve its sale to Unified Grocers, paving the way for the merger deal to close before Oct. 1, Unified said last week. Members of Unified, Los Angeles, had previously approved the transaction, which would combine the two cooperatives to form a $4 billion company.