FINANCE

Bi-Lo to buy 22 Piggly Wiggly stores; Harris Teeter to buy six

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — In separate announcements on Thursday, Bi-Lo Holdings and Harris Teeter on Thursday announced plans to acquire select Piggly Wiggly-branded stores.

Bi-Lo said it has entered into a definitive agreement with Piggly Wiggly Carolina Company to acquire 22 Piggly Wiggly stores in South Carolina and coastal Georgia.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"We look forward to welcoming these new associates to the Bi-Lo Holdings family and to building on the strength of these stores," stated Randall Onstead, president and CEO of Bi-Lo Holdings. "We will continue to fine-tune our company and network of stores so that we can reinvest in what matters most for our customers — the freshest foods, the best deals and really connecting to their neighborhoods."

The transaction is expected to close in fourth quarter 2013. Upon completion of the transaction, the acquired stores will be rebranded under the Bi-Lo banner name.

Harris Teeter Supermarkets said that its operating subsidiary, Harris Teeter, has entered into an agreement with Greenbax Enterprises, Inc. (“Piggly Wiggly”) to purchase six Piggly Wiggly store locations and one future store location in the Charleston, S.C., area.

The transaction is expected to be completed in October 2013.

Harris Teeter plans to close the acquired stores for three to four days for stocking and training of employees.

Thomas W. Dickson, chairman of the board, and CEO stated: “These store locations and the dedicated associates who work in them make this an especially attractive transaction for Harris Teeter. We plan to remodel and expand a number of these locations to create brand new Harris Teeter stores to serve our customers.”

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FINANCE

Loblaw Cos. acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart gets OK from shareholders

BY Antoinette Alexander

Toronto — Shareholders of Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart voted in favor of the drugstore chain’s proposed acquisition by Loblaw Cos.

The transaction was approved by approximately 99.89% of the votes cast by all of the Shoppers Drug Mart shareholders eligible to vote.

As previously reported, Loblaw Cos. and Shoppers Drug Mart announced on July 15 a definitive agreement under which Loblaw will acquire Shoppers Drug Mart for C$12.4 billion in cash and stock.

Completion of the deal remains conditional on approval by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, compliance with the Competition Act and certain other closing conditions.

Subject to obtaining such court approvals, and the satisfaction or waiver of all other conditions, the transaction is expected to close before the end of first quarter 2014.

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Coldwater Creek execs talk tech

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — On their recent earnings (second quarter) call with analysts, Coldwater Creek CEO Jill Brown Dean and CFO/COO James Bell talked technology, specifically discussing the results of the company’s implementation of the new Oracle-based inventory planning system.

The implementation was competed in March 2013, Bell noted. He added that while the company had, in recent years, developed many inventory management disciplines, it was lacking adequate tools to fully maximize its inventory investment.

“The capabilities of this new system are significantly more robust than anything we’ve used in the past, providing a level of transparency that represents a meaningful opportunity for us to drive more consistent sales and margin improvement over time as we become more proficient with this new capability,” Bell said.

Dean noted that system gives the chain the “precision” to plan floor set-by-floor set, week-by-week to ensure that each of its big businesses and key categories is appropriately positioned in the preplanning phase and then appropriately reacted to, be it in promotions, slowing down inventory in the supply chain, or moving it up inventory.

“It’s giving us a tremendous level of insight and visibility that we have not had,” Dean said.

Bell explained that the system allows for preseason planning and the ability to look at historical performance in a way that “we haven’t before in terms of transparency.” With regards to in-season, the capabilities and visibility of the Oracle system allow the company to read and react in a much better way.

“So it’s both the pre- and in-season capabilities. I think those are the critical factors,” Bell said.

Ultimately, the system allows the chain to buy more efficiently upfront, and also be much more efficient in terms of the management of any particular item throughout its entire life cycle — when to go to a first mark, how deep to go to that market, how is it performing at full price, how long do you keep it there on a weekly basis, etc.

“These are all capabilities that we’ve been employing, but not with the level of transparency that this system gives us,” Bell said.

He added that the first season Coldwater Creek did preseason planning utilizing the system was for its holiday assortment upcoming.”

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