business news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• In Memphis, the Commercial Appeal reports that Kroger has begun offering "crowlers" - 23 ounce fillable cans that essentially are the aluminum version of beer growlers - at a new midtown store. The crowlers, which are filled from 12 different taps, are part of a test from Kroger to determine consumer appeal.

Big fan of crowlers ... and, in fact, I did a piece last year about the first supermarket in the country to offer them - the excellent Green Zebra store in Portland, Oregon. You can see that piece here.

• The Orlando Sentinel reports that Winn-Dixie, which has been losing sales and market share in recent years, "won't give up on its 16-month-old low-price strategy, even with heat from cost-cutting competitors."

CEO Ian McLeod says that the company believes that by stressing low prices, Winn-Dixie will be able to generate more sales, which will compensate for the lower margins.

The story notes that "the Central Florida grocery market has grown increasingly crowded in the last year from growth by discount brand Aldi and niche stores such as Lucky's Market. Lucky's focuses on low-priced organic and fresh produce, meats and bulk foods. Other competitors are adding convenience, such as drive-through pickup lanes at some Wal-Mart and doorstep delivery from Amazon Prime Now."

• Whole Foods said this week that it plans to begin exclusively selling DVD copies of At The Fork, an animal welfare documentary that "examines the complex world of animal agriculture, including many of the challenges and opportunities that exist within the current system."

The Los Angeles Times review of At The Fork said that it "serves up an even-handed perspective on the subject of eating ethically," while the Hollywood Reporter said that it "turns out to be significantly more than a polemic against carnivorism."

The movie also is available for streaming via iTunes and Amazon.

Business Insider reports that Amazon and Forever 21 are said to be "among the companies weighing offers to acquire bankrupt American Apparel, people familiar with the talks said on Wednesday. The bankruptcy auction of Los Angeles-based American Apparel, which made its branding theme 'Made in the U.S.A,' will determine the future of a major clothing manufacturing plant in California, one of the most expensive U.S. states in terms of labor costs.

The story notes that "Forever 21, founded by Korean-American Do Won Chang, is known for its low retail prices, helped by lower labor costs abroad;" investing in a California factory could help the company in a political climate where keeping jobs in the US is a high priority of the incoming administration.

As for Amazon, "acquisition of American Apparel would be a major push for the e-commerce company into branded fashion and apparel. The Seattle-based company began to launch private label brands last year."

Buying a clothing brand/factory would strike me as a push for Amazon. But nothing would surprise me, and it is possible that such an investment could serve a broader strategic vision.
KC's View: