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Talbots buyout talks with Sycamore end

BY Marianne Wilson

Hingham, Mass. — Talbots said Friday that Sycamore Partners had walked away from negotiations over a proposed $215 million buyout of the retailer. The company, which also reported first quarter results, said it was exploring other strategic alternatives.

“Sycamore Partners informed the company that it is not prepared to execute a transaction at this time,” Talbots said in a statement on Friday. “The company remains open to pursuing a transaction with Sycamore Partners at $3.05 per share pursuant to an acceptable merger agreement providing for an appropriate level of closing certainty and supported by firm debt and equity financing commitments.”

Earlier this month, Talbots and Sycamore entered into an exclusivity agreement to discuss an offer of $3.05 a share for Talbots. That exclusivity period was extended twice and expired on Friday.

On Friday, Talbots reported operating income of $5.6 million for the first quarter, ended April 28, 2012, up sharply from $3.2 million in the quarter a year ago.

Net sales decreased 8.4% to $275.9 million, compared with $301.3 million in the same period last year, due in part to the impact of store closings in fiscal 2011 as a result of the company’s store rationalization plan. Consolidated comparable sales, which includes stores, Internet, catalog and red-line sales, decreased 3.8% compared with the prior year.

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Kroger launches food bank charity campaign

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI — Kroger has launched a new campaign to generate $4 million in cash and good donations to assist 80 local food banks in the communities it serves.

During Kroger’s Bringing Hope to the Table campaign, customers can purchase participating items in any of Kroger’s family of stores through mid-June to show their support. Participating Kroger brand products and items from numerous vendor partners, including Kellogg’s, Dannon, Nabisco, Kashi, General Mills, PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, will be marked with special double shelf tags to indicate their pledge to support Bringing Hope to the Table.

"Bringing Hope to the Table is a unique opportunity for our customers and Kroger to join together to feed our hungry neighbors," said Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s group VP corporate affairs and a member of the board of Feeding America. "We’re proud that through this campaign, our customers, associates and vendors unite to provide resources to local food banks that support our communities."

Since 2006, Kroger has contributed $30 million in food and funds to local food banks through the annual Bringing Hope to the Table campaign.

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John Standley appointed chairman of Rite Aid

BY CSA STAFF

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid has appointed president and CEO John Standley as chairman, the retail pharmacy chain said Friday.

Rite Aid announced that its board of directors had elected Standley to replace current chairman Mary Sammons, effective June 21. Sammons has served as chairman since June 2007 and plans to step down at the company’s annual stockholder meeting.

"John is a proven leader who is highly knowledgeable about our company and has done an outstanding job leading the organization’s turnaround efforts since becoming president and CEO in June 2010," Sammons said. "With the company’s strong progress under John’s leadership, the board believes the time is right to recombine the roles of chairman and CEO and that this unified structure will provide decisive and effective leadership within and outside the company."

Standley originally started working at Rite Aid as EVP and CFO in December 1999 before leaving in August 2005 to become CEO and director of Pathmark Stores. He returned to Rite Aid in September 2008 as president and COO. He also has previously worked in executive positions for Fred Meyer, Fleming, Ralph’s Grocery and Smith Food & Drug Centers, in addition to serving as a member of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ executive committee.

At Rite Aid, Standley has overseen new programs and initiatives such as the Wellness+ loyalty-card program, which has been credited with helping to attract and maintain new customers and whose membership stood at 52 million at the end of the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, on April 12, and the Wellness store format, which currently includes 280 of the company’s nearly 4,700 stores.

In addition to Standley’s appointment, the company also will retain Michael Regan as lead independent director. Regan has served as an independent director since 2007.

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