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NRF announces merger with RILA, retirement of president, CEO

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association on Tuesday announced a merger that will create a single trade association representing retail interests in the nation’s capital.

The new organization will provide enhanced value to both RILA and NRF’s members and help to ensure that the retail industry speaks with a one voice to advance the industry and its more than 15 million workers, the associations stated.

RILA president Sandy Kennedy will be handling the merger transition. NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin will retire.

Completion of the merger requires that both NRF and RILA submit to a thorough due diligence process. The details of the merger are being developed by representatives from RILA and NRF. Both associations’ boards of directors must recommend the merger, and both memberships must approve it.

Both RILA and NRF expect the process to be completed by this summer.

“On behalf of [the Food Marketing Institute], I wish [Mullin] much success in her future endeavors; her leadership and representation of the retail industry will be missed by all of us,” stated Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI. “It will be my pleasure to continue working collaboratively with [Kennedy] on critical industry issues before Congress and the Obama Administration, as well as to support the leadership of the new organization that emerges.”

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Supervalu announces fiscal-year earnings

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu on Thursday reported net sales of $44.6 billion and a net loss of $2.9 billion for its fiscal year ended Feb. 28, which included 53 weeks.

“As we enter fiscal 2010, we anticipate a challenging economic environment, but remain focused on executing the strategic initiatives that will drive sustainable long-term sales and earnings growth,” stated Supervalu chairman and CEO Jeff Noddle. “Our center-led merchandising and customer-centric marketing initiatives are on track, and our substantial remodel program has freshened our store base. Combined with improved customer service scores and our revamped and energized own brands program, we are better positioned to deliver an enhanced value message to consumers.”

Year-to-date net cash flows from operating activities were $1.5 billion, compared with $1.7 billion in the prior year, primarily reflecting the timing of tax payments. In fiscal 2009, the company completed 161 major remodels, 17 minor remodels, 14 new traditional stores and 25 new limited assortment corporate stores.

“Fiscal 2010 will be a year of further investment at Supervalu,” Noddle added. “We know that consumers are placing a greater emphasis on price, and we are taking the actions necessary to strengthen our overall competitive position. While these actions will have a short-term impact on profitability, they build a better value proposition for consumers in this economic environment and provide a foundation for future robust sales growth.”

Supervalu has projected that net sales across the 52-week fiscal 2010 will be approximately $43 billion with same-store sales falling between -1% and 1%.

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Pharmaca opens eco baby store

BY Michael Johnsen

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Friday opened its Sweet Pea Ecobaby Boutique within its Sunset Blvd. location, the company announced. The store features more than 1,000 sq.ft. of retail space with more than 400 baby products in response to growing customer demand.

The boutique features such brands as Melissa and Doug, PlanToys, Born Free, Little Twig and Nature Babycare. The store also has licensed practitioners like naturopathic doctors, nutritionists and herbalists available to provide guidance on anything from the best BPA-free bottle to the perfect natural remedy for colic.

“It was important for me to offer products that I would want to see in my own home,” stated Sindy Wise, Pharmaca’s lifestyle category manager. “Now I can go to Pharmaca to buy my daughter an educational eco-dollhouse (with a model wind turbine and solar panel!) or myself the latest hip and fashionable mommy accessory like baby slings.“

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