business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • As expected, there were labor union-led nationwide protests against Wal-Mart on Thursday, as organizers demanded that the company allow the unionization of its employees as a way of insuring better pay and health benefits. No surprise…Wal-Mart didn’t roll over. Go figure.

  • Royal Ahold has denied that it has decided to eliminate between 500 and 1,000 jobs in its Latin American business as a way of dealing with this week’s announcement that quarterly profits are down for the second straight quarter.

  • The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously to allow Wal-Mart to acquire Puerto Rico’s Supermercados Amigo chain of supermarkets, with the caveat that the company must sell four of its stores to Supermercados Maximo to ensure enduring competition on the island.

    A group of food retailers in Puerto Rico had filed a lawsuit protesting the deal on the grounds that it was anti-competitive.

  • Kmart, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since last January, prompted speculation that it might be about to close some stores when it announced that it was postponing filing third quarter results until after the Thanksgiving weekend. The company already has closed 284 stores, and management has been denying rumors that it would close as many as 500 more after the holidays. We would speculate that the third quarter numbers look worse than expected, and that Kmart is hoping for a hot Thanksgiving weekend to take the sting out of depressing sales numbers. Hard to imagine that it would close stores before Christmas, but anything is possible…

  • A survey conducted for the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) suggests that 51 percent of Americans say they will serve at least one organic dish for Thanksgiving. This statistic is notable because for the first time, labeling requirements will make it clear to them exactly how organic the products they are buying happen to be. Not that the question of organic purity means a damn to the turkey…

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