News

Wal-Mart Workers in Canada Vote Against Unionization

BY CSA STAFF

Mississauga, Ontario, Wal-Mart employees at a store in Windsor, Canada have voted 167 to 59 against being unionized by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. (UFCW). The UFCW said it has asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to consider another certification vote, claiming Wal-Mart carried out a “campaign of intimidation” leading up to Tuesday’s vote. Wal-Mart posted an announcement in the Windsor lunchroom about the closing of the recently unionized Jonquiere, Quebec store, according to the union. In addition, last week, department managers took employees individually into the store parking lot to sign anti-union petitions, the UFCW also said in a statement. The union added that the new charges against the retailer will be heard by the OLRB on March 30, April 4 and 5.

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FINANCE

Frank’s Nursery & Crafts Files Reorganization Plan

BY CSA STAFF

Troy, Mich., Frank’s Nursery & Crafts announced the filing of its proposed plan of reorganization in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2004. Frank’s has concluded the wind-down of its store operations by completing going-out-of-business sales at its locations and has also sold or rejected substantially all of its leasehold interests.

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FINANCE

Kroger Reported to Consider Winn-Dixie Buy

BY CSA STAFF

Cincinnati, Kroger Co. may be considering making a play for a large chunk of Winn-Dixie, according to a report in the South Florida Business Journal. Kroger would serve as a supplier to a portion of the bankrupt supermarket operator’s 900-plus supermarkets at first. Eventually, it would take over Winn-Dixie’s operations in northern Florida and other states, the report said, with Winn-Dixie retaining a core group of stores in southern and central Florida.

In other news, Kroger reported wider fourth-quarter losses due to a hefty impairment charge related to the company’s Ralph’s and Food 4 Les chains. Quarterly losses totaled $675.9 million, or 93? per share, including a goodwill impairment charge of $884 million, or $1.21 per share. In the year-ago period, Kroger reported a loss of $337.4 million, or 45? per share, including charges of $663.1 million, or 89? per share. Total sales increased 5.1% to $13.7 billion from $13.03 billion last year.

Looking ahead, Kroger expects 2005 net income to exceed $1.16 per share, excluding the effect of the goodwill impairment charge. Kroger expects its earnings growth to be fueled by improved results in Southern California and lower interest expense.

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