business news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The Boston Globe reports that Roche Bros. will open a new 20,000 square foot Brothers Marketplace store in Cambridge's Kendall Square on November 12, with features that include "locally made products, a station to make your own marinade or salad dressing, and an 'innovation station' where new ideas will be tested out by local inventors or businesspeople."

• Research firm DataWeave is out with a new study saying that "nine out of 10 leading retailers price their private label products lower than the average prices of their respective categories," and that "an increasing number of retailers are viewing private label brands as a way to ensure sustained profitability."

Other insights from the study include: "Product assortment is emerging as a driver that's as critical as pricing when it comes to customer retention," with Target, H-E-B, and Kroger "offering the largest product assortments among the retailers analyzed" … "a sharp assortment strategy customized to local tastes and preferences is key to sustaining and enhancing customer satisfaction," with Albertsons, Walmart, and Amazon Fresh having the "higher focus on localized assortments" … and "Home" and "Beauty & Personal Care" leading "the distribution of private label products across retailers."

"As the CPG space reels under intense competition, a number of retailers are doubling down on private labels to capture valuable additional margin," says Karthik Bettadapura, co-founder/CEO of DataWeave. "For instance, Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon Fresh have a higher degree of private label penetration than the other retailers we analyzed."

CNN reports that Chipotle has announced that it "will pay for its employees to get business or technology degrees at certain colleges … The new program, which kicks off on November 15, is the restaurant chain's latest effort to attract and retain talent in a highly competitive labor market.

"Employees who have been at the company for at least 120 days and work a minimum of 15 hours per week can choose from 75 different degree programs at five schools: the University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Wilmington University and Southern New Hampshire University. Chipotle (CMG) will cover tuition only if employees remain at the company, and ask that they stay for at least six months after they earn their degrees. The new benefit is an expansion of Chipotle's existing programs. The chain already offers up to $5,250 a year in tuition reimbursement as well as other education assistance programs."

• The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that the "Toledo company whose restaurants were made famous by the hit TV series 'M*A*S*H' has reached a deal to open two restaurants in Kroger Co. stores. Tony Packo’s, the real restaurant that was a favorite of fictional character Klinger, who craved its Hungarian hot dogs with chili peppers while serving in the Korean War on 'M*A*S*H,' will have a Kroger location by year-end. A second will be opening soon after that…"

The story notes that "Tony Packo’s plans to open additional restaurants in Kroger stores if the first two work out as well as expected … Tony Packo’s has five restaurants around the Toledo area."

I'm sure they're not counting on the "M*A*S*H" connection, since, hard as it is to believe, the TV series went off the air in 1983 and you have to be of a certain age to even know who Max Klinger was.
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