Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 12/19/12: “How Walmart Used Payoffs in Mexico”, Kroger/Dollar Stores May Benefit from Food Inflation


“The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Get Its Way in Mexico” by David Barstow in NY Times.  “But 30 miles away in Mexico City, at the headquarters of Wal-Mart de Mexico, executives were not about to be thwarted by an unfavorable zoning decision. Instead, records and interviews show, they decided to undo the damage with one well-placed $52,000 bribe.  The plan was simple. The zoning map would not become law until it was published in a government newspaper. So Wal-Mart de Mexico arranged to bribe an official to change the map before it was sent to the newspaper, records and interviews show. Sure enough, when the map was published, the zoning for Mrs. Pineda’s field was redrawn to allow Wal-Mart’s store.  Problem solved.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/business/walmart-bribes-teotihuacan.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0  


“Food Inflation May Help Kroger, Dollar Stores: Chart of the Day” by David Wilson at Bloomberg.  “Retailers will be able to raise prices about 3 percent without a meaningful decline in demand, Heinbockel wrote. This will pave the way for faster sales growth, lower expenses as a percentage of revenue, and higher earnings before interest and taxes, the report said.  Kroger Co. the country’s largest owner of supermarkets, will be “a clear beneficiary” because sales are already on the rise, Heinbockel wrote. Fourth-quarter sales will increase as much as 3.5 percent at stores open more than a year, the Cincinnati-based company said last week in a filing.”  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-18/food-inflation-may-help-kroger-dollar-stores-chart-of-the-day.html


“Ace Hardware acquires 85-store Westlake Ace Hardware chain” by Dian Stafford at The Kansas City Star.  “The Westlake Ace Hardware chain, based in Lenexa, has been acquired by Ace Hardware Corp. in a transaction valued at $88 million.  The 85-store Westlake chain had been owned by Goldner Hawn Johnson and Morrison, a private equity firm, since 2006.   Ace, based in Oak Brook, Ill., now is the sole owner of the Westlake chain, which operates in 33 communities in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.”  https://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/18/3971480/westlake-ace-hardware-acquired.html#storylink=cpy


“Dollar General selling MS Points, printed right onto receipt” by Alexander Sliwinski at Joystiq.  “Dollar General stores will now allow customers to purchase Xbox Live points right at the register, with codes printed out on the receipt. Customers can purchase points in denominations of $19.99, $24.99, $49.99 and $59.99 directly at the register.  “Through Dollar General, we are proud to offer Microsoft not only its first entry into the general merchandise retailer channel, but also the implementation of the first nationally available PIN via receipt redemption for the Xbox,” said Dave Etling, vice president of business and product development at InComm, the company whose tech makes this whole thing possible.”  https://www.joystiq.com/2012/12/17/dollar-general-selling-ms-points-printed-right-onto-receipt/


“Staples unveils Velocity Lab in Cambridge” by Ira Kantor at Boston Herald.  “Office products chain Staples today unveiled its new Velocity Lab in Kendall Square, which will house teams responsible for designing and implementing new e-commerce and mobile solutions across the company’s global business units.  The Velocity Lab can house up to 75 associates and features an open floor plan, collaboration space, telepresence capabilities and hoteling options for visiting employees and guests, the company said.  Staples will also use the Velocity Lab to host groups of students from local universities to collaborate on research and innovation projects.”  https://bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2012/12/staples_unveils_velocity_lab_cambridge


“Amazon and JibJab team up for last minute gift ideas” by Jackie Kass at The Examiner.  “On Dec. 18, Amazon announced that it has teamed up with JibJab for last minute holiday gift giving. If you’re a busy parent looking for last minute gift ideas, this could be your answer to unique and personalized gifts that can be ready to send in minutes.  “Customers who showed an interest in gift cards might like to know that Amazon.com gift cards are now available as personalized JibJab videos starring you or anyone else whose photo you have. See you and your friends dance, sing, rock out, or just be silly. Send a gift card by e-mail or Facebook with instant delivery, or schedule up to a year in advance,” Amazon said in an email sent to customers on Tuesday.”  https://www.examiner.com/article/amazon-and-jibjab-team-up-for-last-minute-gift-ideas


“5 Key Lessons (Apple’s) Tim Cook Learned in 2012″ by Pete Pachal in Mashable.  “Apple’s Tim Cook Era is now fully underway. It’s been over a year since Cook officially took over as CEO, leading the company through unprecedented highs (soaring stock price!) and cringe-inducing lows (those disastrous maps). With each major decision and public appearance, the picture of Tim Cook gets a little clearer, and gives us clues about how he’ll define Apple in the coming years.  If that picture of Cook is still somewhat blurry, however, it’s not just because he’s notoriously private, and that Apple is even more notoriously secretive. It’s because he’s changing, too. Tim Cook in December 2012 isn’t the same CEO as Tim Cook in January 2012. From his actions, he’s become more confident, more image-conscious and more hands on than before.  Put simply, Cook has been learning on the job as CEO.”  https://mashable.com/2012/12/18/tim-cook-2012/


“Dick’s Sporting Goods suspends sales of modern rifles, takes guns off display at Conn. store” at The Washington Post.  “A sporting goods chain says it’s suspending sales of modern rifles nationwide because of the school shooting in Connecticut.  Dick’s Sporting Goods also says it’s removing all guns from display at its store closest to Newtown, where the massacre took place.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/dicks-sporting-goods-suspends-sales-of-modern-rifles-takes-guns-off-display-at-conn-store/2012/12/18/bc071d96-4924-11e2-8af9-9b50cb4605a7_story.html


“Staples among best in delivery in national survey” by Laura Finaldi at The Boston Globe.  “That’s according to a study of delivery speeds for the top 25 online US retailers in November by STELLAService, an independent research company. It found the Framingham-based office supply company tied with online apparel retailer Zappos and office products seller Office Depot for the fastest delivery time.”  https://bostonglobe.com/business/2012/12/19/staples-zappos-office-depot-rank-tops-for-speedy-online-deliveries-according-research-firm/cfuJw3eDZXEVEKGjOTHSDL/story.html


Walgreens First Quarter 2013 Earnings Release, Conference Call Scheduled for Dec. 21.  “Walgreens will release its fiscal 2013 first quarter earnings results at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time Friday, Dec. 21, followed by a conference call with Walgreens management beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.  The conference call will be simulcast through Walgreens investor relations website at: https://investor.walgreens.com. A replay of the conference call will be archived on the website for 12 months after the call. A podcast also will be available on the investor relations website.”  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121218006597&div=-1245645151