News

Whole Foods Market Generates On-Site Power With Fuel-Cell Technology

BY CSA STAFF

Whole Foods Market in Glastonbury, Conn., is one of the first supermarkets in the nation to generate a substantial amount of its power on-site with an ultra-clean fuel cell, from UTC Power, South Windsor, Conn.

The 46,000-sq.-ft. supermarket, which opened in March, is generating more than 50% of the electricity and heat, and nearly 100% of the hot water, needed to operate the space on-site with the fuel-cell technology. (Fuel cells, which are highly efficient and virtually pollution-free, produce electricity, heat and water electrochemically, meaning there is no combustion.)

The system allows Whole Foods to reduce its burden on the power grid and its impact on the environment. The harnessed exhaust energy will cool refrigeration cases year-round and heat the store in the winter months.

The fuel cell at the supermarket has been configured for grid-independent operation and is capable of providing 200 kW of standby power if there is a grid failure, enabling the store to operate without disruption.

“Our UTC Power PureCell system provides Whole Foods Market with enhanced energy security and will ensure a reliable food supply for customers and protect against costly food spoilage if the power grid goes down,” said Jan van Dokkum, president, UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp. company.

Whole Foods Market’s use of a fuel-cell system vs. a conventional power plant has carbon-dioxide-mitigating benefits equal to planting more than 21 acres of forest, the companies said, and reductions in nitrogen-oxide emissions equal to removing 100 cars from the roadways per year.

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ECOMMERCE

Study: A majority of Halloween celebrants prefer to shop in-store

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Customers preparing for Halloween are skipping online shopping in favor of in-store visits.

In fact, 71% of customers are shopping in-store over online this Halloween season, according to the “Halloween Shopping Report.” The study, from ChargeItSpot, is based on responses it collected from over 500 shoppers at malls across the country.

Shoppers will do the majority of their Halloween shopping at a party supply store (51%); 30% will shop online, 13% will visit a seasonal pop-up shop, and 7% are headed to a big box/superstore.

“According to our data, the majority of Halloween shoppers still prefer to shop in-store versus online,” said Douglas Baldasare, CEO and founder of ChargeItSpot. “For Halloween in particular, shoppers have a large variety of brick-and-mortar options available to them, and the two most popular product categories, candy and costumes, lend themselves to in-store shopping.”

Specifically, 52% of shoppers said they will spend the most on costumes this Halloween season, followed by candy (28%). They will also buy decorations (11%), and party supplies (9%).

When planning their Halloween budgets, a majority of shoppers (63%) said they would spend less than $100, overall. Almost one in five shoppers (19%) plan to spend between $100 and $200; 5% will spend between $200 and $300; only 1% will spend between $300 and $400; 3% will spend between $400 and $500 (3%). However, 10% of shoppers plan to spend more than $500.

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FINANCE

Supervalu ends Q2 with sales bump, and acquisition

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Supervalu is kicking off the second half of its fiscal year with an acquisition.

The company is acquiring Associated Grocers, a transaction valued at approximately $180 million. The deal will give Supervalu the ability to expand its operations into a new part of Florida, and bring the company’s products and services to Associated Grocers’ diverse customer base in South Florida, the Caribbean, and other international markets.

Also part of the pending transaction, Supervalu has reached a long-term supply agreement with Associated Grocers’ largest customer that will go into effect upon the closing of the transaction, the company reported.

During Associated Grocers’ last fiscal year, which ended on July 29, the company’s revenues were approximately $650 million. This is an estimate by Supervalu under its accounting policies.

The news comes as Supervalu reported a sales increase for its second quarter. For the ended September 9, the company reported net sales of $3.80 billion, a 35% increase compared to $2.81 billion last year. This surpassed FactSet estimates of $3.79 billion.

The company reported a net loss from continuing operations of $25 million, which included a $27 million after-tax asset impairment charge and $16 million of after-tax merger and integration costs. When adjusted for these items, second quarter fiscal 2018 net earnings from continuing operations were $18 million, or $0.46 per diluted share. This also beat the FactSet consensus of $0.36.

Second quarter wholesale net sales were $2.74 billion, compared to $1.73 billion last year, an increase of 58%. Retail net sales were $1.02 billion, a 1.1% increase compared to $1.03 billion last year. The net sales decrease reflects identical store sales of negative 3.5% and closed stores, partially offset by sales from acquired and new stores.

“We continue to make tremendous strides in driving our strategy, evidenced by another quarter of strong growth from our core wholesale business which now represents over 70% of net sales,” said Supervalu president and CEO Mark Gross. “Additionally, our results now include the benefit of Unified Grocers, where I’m pleased that the transition is going well. We have a lot to be excited about as we turn our focus toward the back half of our fiscal year.”

Looking ahead, Supervalu expects fiscal 2018 net earnings from continuing operations to be in the range of $31 million to $50 million. Adjusted EBITDA, including the contribution from Unified Grocers, is expected to be in the range of $475 million to $495 million, according to the company.

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