Antitrust Suit Against California Grocers to Proceed
Los Angeles, Afederal judge in California has ruled that the state Attorney General may continue with an antitrust lawsuit against Albertson’s Inc., Kroger Co., and Safeway over a profit-sharing pact struck during a lengthy labor strike in fall 2003. Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s suit will charge that the three grocers struck an anti-competitive and illegal deal to share profits during the southern California labor strike that lasted more than four months and cost store owners an estimated $2 billion. The suit maintains that the pact hurt consumers by discouraging competitive pricing. When Lockyer filed the suit in February 2004, the chains argued that federal labor laws covering collective bargaining protected them from liability. However, the judge’s ruling has now cleared the way for the state to pursue the case.
Retailers Expect 22% Rise in On-Line Sales
Chicago, U.S. on-line retailers expect sales to rise 22% to $172.4 billion in 2005, with the biggest gains likely coming from cosmetics, perfume and other sectors aimed at women, according to a survey released this week. The annual report by Forrester Research and Shop.org, the on-line retailing arm of the National Retail Federation trade group, reflects survey data from 136 retailers. Excluding sales of travel services, the report found that on-line sales were up 23.8% to $89 billion, which comprises 4.6% of total U.S. retail sales. Total on-line sales rose 23.8% to $141.4 billion in 2004. In addition, on-line retailers reported operating margins of 28%, an improvement over 2003’s 21%, the survey revealed.
“Though initially adopted by men as a shopping tool, women are flocking to the Internet in droves to comparison shop, research and buy,” said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org. Looking ahead, survey respondents said on average they expect increases of 33% for cosmetics and perfume, 32% for over-the-counter medications and personal care, and 31% for jewelry and luxury goods.
Bi-Lo/Bruno’s Appoints Senior VP Finance/Treasury
Mauldin, S.C., Bi-Lo/Bruno’s has named Ken Jones as senior VP of finance and treasury. Jones previously served as VP and treasurer for Denny’s Corp., where he directed corporate financial planning and investor relations, as well as the restaurant group’s centralized treasury organization.
Bi-Lo previously announced that Southern Family Markets Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of C&S, would purchase 104 Bi-Lo and Bruno’s stores over the next 11 months. In addition, Bi-Lo will seek to sell an additional nine stores and close three stores.