business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the A&P acquisition of Pathmark, one MNB user wrote:

With all your comments about the struggles of both A&P and Pathmark to deliver meaningful offering to their respective customers, I can't believe you missed the softball Christian Haub lobbed in to you in yesterday's press release - his comment that A&P was committed to "retention of the Pathmark banner, format, customer appeal and sales productivity" - isn't that how Pathmark got into this mess in the first place?

Well put.

And another MNB user wrote:

I do not do business or real estate valuations, but is Pathmark really worth nearly $10M per store? Like you suggest, there is more to this.

And, continued discussion of the value of free Wi-Fi, and whether Starbucks should offer it…

MNB user Phil Censky wrote:

As someone who has taken Internet access for granted since high school, I firmly believe subscription-based Wi-Fi is an anachronism. Consider the alternatives: free wireless at places like Panera, cellular Internet cards (from Sprint, Cingular…), Smart Phones and city-wide wireless projects. If Internet access is a high priority, Starbucks will probably be avoided. Not only does it cost money, but it takes more time to finally get connected. On business trips, I always keep my eyes out for “free wireless” signs because that’s where I’ll head for breakfast/lunch, which means I avoid Starbucks (though I’d really like a quadruple Venti nonfat hazelnut mocha). I love Starbucks beverages and I don’t flinch at paying over $4 for my beverage of choice, but Starbuck’s isn’t my 3rd place anymore because of the wireless issue. I’m a 26 year old professional. I have to imagine my demographic is pretty important to Starbucks. Consider this: according to Harris Interactive, about 50% of college students own a laptop computer. If you want these consumers, you’d better have free wireless.

Airports, restaurants and hotels take note: a new generation of (relatively) savvy consumers expects free internet access and will patronize those who offer it.

That, and an ample number of plugs so we can all charge our computers and cell phones.

Another MNB user wrote:

Here's my disclaimer - I actually work one day a week at a Starbucks store.

About Wi-Fi: Starbucks has actually had many internal discussions with their staff about this, because they realize that customers are asking for it. They have calculated that it actually costs the stores money on these customers that sit for hours, and it takes away from other customers' experiences. Therefore they have decided it is not a good business move to offer free Wi-Fi. It reminds me of the discussion awhile ago about having the guts to say no to unprofitable customers.

About the brand dilution: "store within a store" Starbucks are actually licensed, but all free standing stores are company owned. I have had many of the same sub-standard experiences in airport and grocery store stores - mediocre service, lower quality drinks, etc. I also see customers come in to our store and complain about the non-corporate stores. Starbucks has not sufficiently addressed this issue, and it is something many people that work in the corporate stores have been complaining about for years.

We were saying nice things yesterday about universities with food industry education programs, but one MNB user disagreed with our conclusions…

It is has been my observation that the benefit to organizations from hiring out of schools…is actually fairly limited. Many new hires come out of these programs thinking they're already experts and therefore don't need the necessary experiences prior to becoming a manager. It may very well be generational but the unwillingness to work their way up is often time frustrating and appalling.

We can see where that could be a problem.

But we’ve also heard of situations where people come out of college and want to work for retailers…but then they find out that the retail expects them to follow the same career path as a high school graduate…which doesn’t seem to make sense.

There has to be a happy medium. Seems to us that it is up to retailers to find ways to engage these students, catering to their strengths and interests in a way that benefits the organization.

And by the way, almost everybody who graduates from college thinks he or she is an expert. It usually takes a dose of reality and a decent sized failure to wean them off that illusion. But that’s okay…it’s called continuing education.
KC's View: