business news in context, analysis with attitude

We quoted a story the other day inn which analysts suggested that Safeway CEO Steve Burd may be "the wrong guy" to run the company these days. MNB user David Livingston responded:

Duh!!! Maybe they should have put him through Safeway's store management training program first. Then made him CEO.

Nope. You can't have supermarket senior executives who have worked in the stores, dealt with customers, and understand the relationship between shopper and shopkeeper.

For most senior executives, the primary customer is the investor community. Which explains a lot, we think.

Of course, not everyone would agree with that perspective. One member of the MNB community wrote:

In US business, corporations exist first, to make money for stockholders; second, to make money for the corporation (read, upper management) and distant third, for the benefit of the workers. It's about money, which is to say, it's about power. Those who have the most of it will fare best. Welcome to capitalism.

We don't think it is anti-capitalism to believe that for a retailer, the primary customer is the one in the store. If you take care of that customer, then the investor community should ultimately come out okay.

In response to our piece about California's governor being willing to intercede in the Southern California's grocery strike. One MNB user wrote:

Schwarzenegger may be a member of SAG but I wouldn't count on his union status affecting his intervention on the California Grocery Strike. SAG is a union where about 10% of the members actually make a living just doing acting. Most of us can't demand the 20MM$ salaries that he can. SAG works hard to protect all of its members from conditions on sets and wage negotiations and residuals (a very difficult thing to fight for against the media conglomerates that have banded together in past years).

I hope he can help the situation. And this is not a knock against him, but I'm just not sure how in touch he is with the struggles of his own union.

Hey, he could take on the Predator, terrorists, and couple of advanced terminators. How tough can a bunch of labor negotiators be?

On second thought….

We wrote yesterday about a Crain's Chicago Business report on how Walgreen is concerned about the growth of the mail order prescription business, which led one MNB user to write:

Crain's got it wrong. Walgreen has been in the mail order business years. They are well aware it is an important part of the business.

And another member of the MNB community chimed in:

In my wallet is my Walgreen's Rx insurance card. I even have envelopes if I want mail order from Walgreen. What are they worried about? They will probably end up being the largest mail order drug company in the USA.

It all depends on your definition of "mail order," we guess.

We wrote yesterday about Wal-Mart's growing investment in lobbying as a way of influencing public policy, and noted that it has been supporting President Bush and no Democratic presidential candidates. Which generated the following email from MNB user Richard Lowe:

What a paradox this is! I'll bet the majority of their customers are Democrats. When will we ever wise up?

Actually, we'd guess that this is incorrect. If you were to look at a map of the US and compare Wal-Mart's strongest markets to the states that George W. Bush won in the 100 election, we think there would be a strong correlation.

Reaction to our piece yesterday about Bozzuto's growth from a member of the MNB community:

They have always been a company that does not let opportunities slip through their fingers. I congratulate them.

We also got some reaction to the piece we ran about improved marketing efforts being employed by the Girl Scouts in the sale of their cookies. MNB user Kevin Watkins wrote:

My daughter attended one of the kick off meetings last weekend. I haven't had a chance to look over the materials she brought home, but I did note that the price of a box of cookies has gone up from $3.00 to $4.00 this year. I'm looking forward to hearing how they taught her to deal with the inevitable objections to a whopping 33% price increase!

And another MNB user wrote:

Forget about teaching the kids - - we all know the parents do a lot of the heavy lifting by selling at work.

What GS Corporate really needs to do is get their corporate act together - - because the various GS Councils apparently now have discretion regarding how they market, you can have separate troops in the same area with different timing, different pricing, and even different products! The result is that instead of the tedious but familiar 'shaking down your circle of friends' approach, you now need to employ promotional strategies that any agency would be proud of.

So in my office (in Chicago), I got off to a 2-week late start, which was compounded by my daughter's troop pricing at $4 rather than the historical $3. On the other hand, we were the only troop offering the new 'Pinatas' flavor (they're 'berry-licious'!), and thru an exclusivity pitch coupled with a buy-3-get-1-free shameless e-mail campaign we did OK.

I'm glad this cookie season is over -- looking forward to something simpler like figuring out my taxes.

Actually, if we were you we'd check with the local Girl Scout officials. We talked to Mrs. Content Guy, and she said we paid $3.50 per box of cookies this year.

Somebody may be skimming 50 cents in your area. Alert the authorities.
KC's View: