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Sobey’s to sell 30 Canadian stores for $391 million

BY Dan Berthiaume

Stellarton, Canada — Sobey’s Inc. has entered binding purchase and sale agreements with Overwaitea Food Group and Federated Co-operatives Limited that will see Sobeys sell 22 of the 23 stores it is required to divest as part of its consent agreement with the Competition Bureau related to its purchase of Canada Safeway.

In addition, Sobeys has signed a binding letter of intent with Federated for the sale of its Price Chopper location in Winnipeg, which the company is also required to divest as part of its October consent agreement.

Through the negotiation of these transactions, Sobeys also agreed to include an additional seven stores in British Columbia in the package to be acquired by Overwaitea. This was done to create a divestiture package that meets the needs of both Sobeys and Overwaitea.

Proceeds of about $391 million will be used to repay bank debt. The total annual sales from these stores are approximately $627 million. Both agreements have received approval from the Competition Bureau and Sobeys anticipates the deals will close in March or early April 2014. The sale of the Price Chopper location remains subject to finalization of an asset purchase agreement with the purchaser and approval from the Competition Bureau.

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Jos. A. Bank to acquire Eddie Bauer for $850 million

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hampstead, Md. — Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. is buying the parent company of Eddie Bauer in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million. The deal is the latest chapter in Jos A. Bank’s ongoing takeover battle with Men’s Wearhouse. Last fall, Jos. B. Bank tried and failed to buy rival Men’s Wearhouse for $2.3 billion. Men’s Wearhouse then began pursuing Jos. A. Bank.

Jos. A. Bank said it has entered into a deal with Everest Topco LLC to buy Everest Holdings LLC, Eddie Bauer’s parent company. Everest Topco is part of Golden Gate Capital. Based in Bellevue, Wash., Eddie Bauer operates approximately 370 stores

The combined company is expected to have more than $2.1 billion in revenue in 2014. The two brands will run independent of each other after the transaction is complete.

Under the terms of the deal, Jos. A. Break said it can get out of the agreement if it receives an unsolicited takeover bid that its board decides “would reasonably be expected to” create more value than the Eddie Bauer acquisition. The terms leave the door open to a higher offer from Men’s Wearhouse.

Jos. A. Bank can end the deal by paying a breakup fee of less than 3% of its own market value based on Men’s Wearhouse’s current tender offer, or roughly $48 million.

In a statement, Men’s Wearhouse said that it is evaluating its options with respect to Jos. A. Bank.

Jos. A. Bank said Eddie Bauer was one of the first acquisition candidates it considered when the company began an intensive process of evaluating potential acquisitions in 2012. The retailer also said it engaged in several discussions to purchase Eddie Bauer before making a purchase offer for Men’s Wearhouse in September 2013.

For the year ended Dec. 31, 2013, Eddie Bauer has estimated its revenue to be between $885 million and $895 million. While the two brands will be run independently, the combined company is expected to benefit from significant synergies, including approximately $25 million in process and infrastructure savings expected to be realized in 2015.

In 2014, the combined company is expected to generate in excess of $2.1 billion in revenue, and in 2015, revenue is expected to be in excess of $2.2 billion.

"We have long admired the Eddie Bauer brand and its widespread appeal among those with active lifestyles and excitement about the outdoors, a large and growing customer base that overlaps significantly with ours,” said Robert N. Wildrick, chairman of Jos. A. Bank. “Based on the success of Eddie Bauer’s turnaround and the outstanding opportunities a combination of our companies provides, we believe this transaction ideally positions Jos. A. Bank for the future, and Golden Gate’s investment in our company and participation on our board is a strong endorsement of our plan."

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Container Store marks Valentine’s Day with employee fund launch

BY CSA STAFF

The Container Store is marking Valentine’s Day with the launch of its Employee First Fund — an employee assistance fund that will provide grants to employees experiencing unforeseen emergencies, a major medical situation, a catastrophic event or other challenges in life that they are not financially prepared to handle.

The Container Store is contributing $100,000 to kick off the fund, and after that, employees and other stakeholders have the opportunity to make donations. The fund is part of the retailer’s annual National We Love Our Employees Day, a day it created five years ago.

“We’re so thrilled to launch our Employee First Fund, which exists to support our company’s commitment to an employee-first culture, ensuring all employees feel well taken care of, safe, secure and warm,” said chairman and CEO Kip Tindell. “It’s a culture that’s driven by our seven Foundation Principles and results in an environment where the lives of everyone connected to our business are enriched and brimming with opportunity — where everyone can thrive — starting with our employees first!”

Tindell, along with president and COO Melissa Reiff and chief merchandising officer Sharon Tindell, announced the news of the Employee First Fund via a video message that was played for all employees and is posted on the company’s blog (whatwestandfor.com) and the company’s YouTube channel.

Employees at the retailer’s 63 stores, office and distribution center also celebrated National We Love Our Employees Day with in-store signage and treats served by the company’s management teams. Each of The Container Store’s 5,000 employees also received a commemorative Employee First Fund shirt along with a letter from the Tindells and Reiff.

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