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Fortunoff Said to Have Attracted Buyer

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Flagging jewelry and housewares retailer Fortunoff is reported to be nearing acquisition by the owner of the Lord & Taylor department store chain, according to a report on Thursday in The New York Times.

Sources close to the situation said the $100 million deal would put Fortunoff merchandise in all 47 Lord & Taylor stores, and even open a Fortunoff boutique in the Lord & Taylor Fifth Avenue flagship.

Purchase, N.Y.-based NRDC Equity Partners, the private equity firm that owns Lord & Taylor, hasn’t commented directly on the matter, but it is said to be nearing a deal. People close to NRDC have warned, however, that Fortunoff has drawn interest from several bidders that could outmaneuver NRDC.

The proposed acquisition comes on the heels of a report that the company is considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and observations from retail experts that its stores are struggling to keep up its inventory.

Should the acquisition by NRDC take place, sources briefed on the negotiations said NRDC had no plans to close any Fortunoff stores and would like to expand the number of its full-line stores, from four to perhaps dozens.

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Costco looks to open down under in ’09

BY CSA STAFF

BELLEVUE, Wash. Costco plans to open its first store in Australia in 2009 and is currently looking at sites for its first store down under.

At its annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash. on Jan. 29, Costco chairman of the board Jeffrey Brotman said Costco plans to “open in Australia sometime next year” when asked about the chain’s plans for international expansion.

Costco evp and cfo Richard Galanti later confirmed that Costco is searching for sites in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. “We’re looking at opening there in 2009 if everything goes as expected,” said Galanti.

But Costco is still not ready to entertain a move into China. Brotman said Costco has been looking at China for years and said it’s, “still undecided, though we’re taking a hard look at it.”

During his presentation, ceo Jim Sinegal said Costco continued to push eco-friendly ideas in stores last year. He said Costco increased the number of stores powered by solar energy to 13 and that the company is considering solar panels for 25 more locations.

Sinegal also confirmed the 531-store chain plans to open 29 new stores this year and estimates Costco could eventually open 1,025 stores worldwide with more than 700 warehouses in the U.S.

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Giant Food Stores names head nutritionist

BY CSA STAFF

Carlisle, Pa. Giant Food Stores has hired Sylvia Emberger, R.D., L.D.N., as its corporate nutritionist, the company announced today.

Emberger will help set the strategic direction for Giant’s health and wellness programming and overseeing Giant and Martin’s in-store nutritionists. Emberger reports to Shirley Axe, acting manager for health and wellness.

Emberger most recently worked for The Hershey Company in the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition where she focused on nutrition labeling and nutrition profiling of products. She also served as a lead dietitian for Messiah Village, a long term care facility, she was responsible for developing systems to track the nutritional status of nursing home and rehab residents.

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