FINANCE

BabyUniverse, eToys Complete Merger

BY CSA STAFF

Denver, BabyUniverse Inc. and eToys Direct Inc. have completed their $276 million, all-stock merger, the online toy retailers said Monday.

BabyUniverse shareholders will own one-third of the shares of the combined company, and eToys Direct shareholders will own two-thirds of shares.

The new company will be located in Denver, and subject to shareholder approval, will be renamed The Parent Co.

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Whole Foods expands ESL use in Southwest

BY CSA STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas Whole Foods has expanded its use of electronic shelf labeling throughout its Southwest division, according to reports.

The switch from paper to digital labels occurred three years ago, which Whole Foods claims is environmentally friendly as it reduces the amount of paper and plastic used when prices are changed. Its success has led to all stores in Texas and Louisiana to make the switch.

“It saves us a lot of labor and materials,” said Michael Maynard, head of Whole Foods Southwest Regional Information Technology. “We used to use a little vinyl shelf tag that we put on a plastic chip and put that on the shelf. You can imagine how much labor (switching) saved us.”

Maynard added that electronic shelf labeling allows Whole Foods to react more quickly to changes in competitor prices.

“If somebody has lower prices down the street, we can change the whole category down to the price as well,” he said.

The company uses thousands of digital shelf tags, which cost about $5 each.

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Ahold to sell Tops chain for $310M

BY CSA STAFF

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands Ahold yesterday announced that it is selling its Tops Markets chain to a private equity firm for $310 million. The company added that the divestment of Tops is part of its strategic review announced in November 2006.

Ahold said it sold the chain to Morgan Stanley Private Equity and that the transaction is expected to close in ther fourth quarter of this year. 

Tops operates stores in western New York, mid-state New York including the Rochester area, and northwestern Pennsylvania under the banners of Tops Markets and Martin’s Super Food Stores. Tops currently employs approximately 10,000 full- and part-time associates.

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