FINANCE

Report: Wal-Mart executives discuss South Africa acquisition

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. — A report Thursday by the Associated Press said that Wal-Mart Stores executives met Thursday to discuss the proposed Massmart acquisition, which is expected to close in June.

According to the report, as Wal-Mart expands its international business, the company wants to bring ideas it gains from the South African chain to other markets.

The $2.4 billion purchase of a majority interest in Massmart, which operates 263 stores in South Africa, will put Wal-Mart in the building supply business, one of a variety of Massmart store formats.

J.P. Suarez, senior VP of international business development, told AP that Wal-Mart intends to expand Massmart’s footprint in southern Africa, and that a priority will be to offer more refrigerated food, a category lacking among Massmart and its competitors, Suarez said.

Massmart’s home building supply stores will be a new venture for Wal-Mart, which Suarez said may have potential for further development.

"We do want to take that capability and learn and apply it to any other market it might be relevant to," Suarez said.

Wal-Mart had to make concessions for the Massmart deal to go through, including promising to honor existing labor agreements for three years and not lay off any workers for two years.

Suarez noted South Africa’s Competition Commission’s approval of the deal could be appealed, but he expects it to close as scheduled.

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FINANCE

Fresh Market profit edges up in Q1, to open 12-14 stores

BY CSA STAFF

Greensboro, N.C. — The Fresh Market reported Thursday that net income for the quarter ended May 1 rose to $13.5 million, compared with $12.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

Sales increased 10% to $264.5 million and same-store sales increased 4.1%.

During the first quarter, the retailer opened one new store in Peachtree City, Ga., bringing the current store count to 101. Fresh Market said it expects to open 12 to 14 new stores during fiscal 2011.

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OPERATIONS

Staples Europe announces exec changes

BY CSA STAFF

Framingham, Mass. — Staples Europe announced Thursday that it has appointed Amee Chande to managing director UK retail & direct and Andrew Gabriel to director of technology and services European retail.

Chande will have overall responsibility for Staples retail and delivery businesses in the United Kingdom, a key market for the company. Chande joined Staples in 2009 as senior VP strategy, responsible for developing and driving the company’s growth agenda.

Gabriel will lead the development of technology and services initiatives for Staples retail operations in Europe. He will work with the company’s retail businesses worldwide to advance these growth initiatives. Gabriel currently serves as managing director of UK retail & direct.

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