Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 12/14/12: Walmart & Home Depot online problems, Kroger & Walmart among Hostess bidders



“Wal-Mart, Kroger among Hostess bidders: report” at Reuters.  “Hostess Brands Inc, the bankrupt Twinkie and Wonder Bread maker, has received bids for assets being sold by about two dozen parties including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Kroger Co, according to a media report on Thursday.  Some of the bidders are interested in acquiring all of the Hostess assets, while others are just focused on its cake or breads businesses, said the report by Bloomberg, which cited a person familiar with the matter.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/13/us-hostess-walmart-idUSBRE8BC1F120121213


“US giant Lowe’s seeks to reassure Woolworths (Australia)” at Business Spectator.  “United States hardware giant Lowe’s has sought to ease concerns that it is wavering in its support for a joint venture with Woolworths Ltd that saw the launch of hardware retail chain Masters last year, according to The Australian.”  Speculation has grown that Lowe’s is not happy with higher than expected start-up costs for the chain – which now has 23 stories with a goal of having 100 by 2015/16 – and some negative analyst reports.”  https://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/US-giant-Lowes-seeks-to-reassure-Woolworths-pd20121213-2XNK9?opendocument&src=rss


“As global consumers shop mobile, Apple outshines rivals” at Reuters.  “With tablets and other mobile devices the gadgets of choice this holiday season, Reuters canvassed over 70 shoppers and store employees across Sydney, Seattle, Palo Alto, Shanghai, Bangalore, Singapore, Paris, London, Mexico City and Boston for insight into what does and doesn’t beckon.  Apple stores and electronics retailers were bustling last week, in contrast to the Microsoft pop-up stores in the United States promoting Windows 8 and Surface tablets, which were far less crowded. Samsung appeared to be marketing aggressively, blanketing stores across major cities with signs for its Galaxy products and other devices, and large displays in many stores. Customers noticed, but only in Singapore and Bangalore did most of those spoken to by Reuters see it as a top choice.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/13/us-mobile-global-idUSBRE8BC00K20121213


“Walmart.com goes down” by Thad Reuter at Internet Retailer.  “Walmart.com went down today, 12 days before Christmas, for unspecified reasons. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.“We are working to resolve the issue and expect the site to be available shortly,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said just after 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, declining to provide more details. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience…The site appeared to be back to normal by 4 p.m. Eastern.”  https://www.internetretailer.com/2012/12/13/walmartcom-goes-down


“Online error made some Home Depot orders free” by Arielle Kass at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  “For a few minutes early Thursday, some Home Depot online shoppers got an unexpected surprise: their orders were free. If the orders totaled $101 or less, shoppers didn’t have to pay for what they bought. It was the result of a promotion for $101 off a specific appliance that, for just a few minutes, was mistakenly applied to every order. “It doesn’t happen very often,” said Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group. “They probably have some happy customers.”  https://www.ajc.com/news/business/online-error-made-some-home-depot-orders-free/nTWKf/


“Kroger Will Broaden Its Focus on Health Care Services Through Deal for Axium” by Angela Maas at ASI Health.  “In addition, Axium fits well within the Kroger model, points out Vogenberg, because “specialty pharmacy is more local as well as regional in nature and requires some economy of scale for economic reasons. Incorporating broader pharmacy services into their [i.e., Kroger’s] existing pharmacy business makes sense. In a similar way, Walgreens has done the same to expand upon the local pharmacy business platform they have been marketing to customers. Also using Walgreen Co. as a comparison, Elan Rubinstein, Pharm.D., founder and principal of consulting firm EB Rubinstein Associates, tells SPN that “this moves Kroger in the direction that CVS [Caremark Corp.] and Walgreens have gone before, with respect to the specialty pharmacy business. CVS has the benefit of driving business to its mail order and specialty pharmacy subsidiaries through Caremark PBM payer contracts.”  https://aishealth.com/archive/nspn1212-02


“Walgreens makes a big holiday marketing push” by Lewis Lazare at The Chicago Business Journal (Video and Text).  “The debut TV spot last summer set the tone for the campaign and helped remind viewers that Walgreens is a drugstore chain with a long history, but one that also is intent on changing and growing into a place where one could potentially get everything from prescriptions to freshly-prepared sushi.  For the holidays, GSD&M has created several spots that focus more specifically on Walgreens as a destination for holiday shopping. The cutest — and most memorable — of the holiday spots is titled “Little Smoothie.”  https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2012/12/13/walgreens-makes-a-big-holiday.html


“Family Dollar appoints senior vice president of food” at Comtex News Network via Equities.com.  “Family Dollar Stores, Inc., a discount store chain, has appointed Tammy DeBoer to the position of senior vice president of food.  Ms DeBoer will report to Paul White, executive vice president – chief merchandising officer. Since joining Family Dollar in June 2012, Ms DeBoer has led the Company’s private brand efforts with focus on improving quality and expanding the assortment. Prior to joining Family Dollar, Ms DeBoer served as vice president, General Manager, for Bloom, a Delhaize America Company.”  https://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-12-13&val=825424&cat=goods


“CVS Caremark sees Obamacare as expansion opportunity” by Jessica Wohl at Reuters via Chicago Tribune.  “CVS Caremark Corp is looking at changes in U.S. healthcare as an opportunity to serve more customers, whether they are picking up prescriptions, getting them through the mail, or stopping by an in-house MinuteClinic for a checkup. The company, formed when drugstore chain CVS bought pharmacy benefits manager Caremark in 2007 in a $27 billion all-stock deal, is set to give details on its strategy as it meets with analysts and investors in New York on Thursday. It also plans to discuss its 2013 financial forecasts. The coming year stands to be a busy one for the healthcare sector as the United States prepares for 30 million people to join the ranks of insured patients under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, starting in 2014. At the same time, the large population of aging baby boomers and rising demand for specialty drugs stand to be opportunities for companies such as CVS.”  https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-cvscaremark-meetingbre8bc0oy-20121213,0,980756.story


“Old, new hardware stores to face off in Worthington” by Dean Narciso at The Columbus Dispatch.  “Reno, the manager of Zettler’s Hard Road store and past manager of Worthington Hardware, sees nothing cooperative about (Ace’s) move into Worthington.  Ace ownership is “trying to run us out of business. Stuff like that just rubs me the wrong way,” Reno said.”  https://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/12/14/old-new-hardware-storesto-face-off-in-worthington.html


“CVS Caremark Backs 2012 Outlook, Guides 2013 EPS Above View, Boost Dividend 38%” at RTT News.  “Drugstore chain CVS Caremark Corp. on Thursday reaffirmed its guidance for the full-year 2012, and provide initial earnings guidance for the full-year 2013, above Street view. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend by about 38 percent. The company revealed this at its annual Analyst Day in New York City while highlighting a healthy outlook for growth across the enterprise. “Going into 2012, we set challenging, yet achievable, financial targets and I am pleased to report that we outperformed those expectations. Earnings per share and cash flow are expected to be solidly ahead of our initial plan. These strong results set the stage for continued enterprise growth in 2013 and beyond,” President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.”  https://www.rttnews.com/2023081/cvs-caremark-backs-2012-outlook-guides-2013-eps-above-view-boost-dividend-38.aspx?type=ern


“Value Depot opens to take on Costco (in Australia), rapid expansion flagged via Campbells chain” by Patrick Anenell at Current.  “At the opening of Metcash’s first Value Depot warehouse outlets in Brisbane today, CEO Andrew Reitzer promised to “match or beat the price” of its competitors, with Costco singled out and named as a target.  Reitzer said Value Depot will stock over 10,000 lines of products and 35,000 different SKUs, in categories including dry groceries, FMCG, fresh food and appliances. Metcash’s media release asserts that Value Depot will be “matching or beating the price of the national chains and offering strong discounts with bulk purchases”.  https://www.current.com.au/2012/12/13/article/Value-Depot-opens-to-take-on-Costco-rapid-expansion-flagged-via-Campbells-chain/OPAUJOGMAY.html


“Union Workers At Kroger Distribution Center Could Join Picket Lines” at 10 TV News -Columbus, Ohio.  “If some union workers at the Kroger distribution center in Delaware do not approve a contract Friday, they could be off the job as soon as Saturday.  United Industrial Workers have until 5 p.m. to vote on a contract with Kroger. A Kroger spokeswoman said that the company is offering union members two virtually identical contracts, expect one offers ratification bonuses. The union represents roughly 850 employees.”  https://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2012/12/14/delaware-kroger-distribution-union-workers-contract-talks.html


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