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Penn Traffic to sell wholesale business for $43 million

BY Alaric DeArment

SYRACUSE, N.Y. The Penn Traffic Company has agreed to sell its wholesale business segment to C&S Wholesale Grocers, the supermarket operator announced Wednesday.

The sale, worth about $43 million, will allow Penn Traffic to focus on retail supermarkets and consumers, the company said. Penn Traffic will use proceeds from the divestiture and last month’s sale of two stores in New York and New Hampshire to pay down a majority of its outstanding debt, including a $17 million revolving line of credit and approximately $15 million of the company?s $25 million supplemental real estate facility.

The Syracuse, N.Y.-based company owns and operates supermarkets in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire under the P&C, Quality and BiLo banners.

“For nearly a year, we’ve been executing a strategy that includes focusing resources on our top-performing and highest-potential operations in our core store portfolio, while working to lower corporate administrative expenses and not-for-resale costs,” Penn Traffic president and chief executive officer Gregory Young said. “Now, with the significant deleveraging of the balance sheet, we expect to accelerate our progress toward rebuilding the company, restoring profitability and positioning Penn Traffic for long-term success.”

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Porter Novelli outlines key marketing trends for 2009

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Porter Novelli on Thursday outlined its annual 10 key trends that will influence overall consumer decision-making in the coming year.

“Porter Novelli’s mission is to track consumers’ shifting conversations and find ways to influence them to our clients’ benefit,” stated Lisa Rosenberg, partner and managing director of Port Novelli New York. “It’s what we call Intelligent Influence. One important tool we use is our Intelligent Dialogue report. In the latest issue, ‘Change Is Now,’ we forecast the major trends shaping society in the coming year and take an in-depth look at each of them.”

“We are living in a time when none of the old rules apply,” stated Marian Salzman , Porter Novelli’s chief marketing officer. “We want and need change, but we’re also afraid of change—what if things get worse? Angst and hope live side by side today. It is crucial for marketers to understand the balancing act that’s going on in the national psyche.” 

Following are Porter Novelli’s Ten Key Trends for 2009: 

Trend 1: Value and Values 

When our values were all about having more, doing more and being more, “value” meant more for the money. Now, new values—stability, sustainability, cooperation and peace of mind—are taking hold. How much are we willing to pay for them? 

Trend 2: A Heartland Home Base 

Barack Obama’s hometown of Chicago has become the focus of intense global interest. Will its combination of heartland values and big-city, multi-ethnic vibrancy make it the epicenter of a more resourceful and responsible era?

Trend 3: The Ultimate Reboot 

Experts argue whether global financial systems—and other systems—need a reboot, an overhaul or total replacement, but one thing is certain: We need a fresh start come Jan. 20, 2009, and we can’t make the same mistakes again.

Trend 4: Generational Power Shift 

Often considered young Boomers, Cuspers (born 1955 to 1964) are taking the lead in government and business, and they are a generation in their own right. Barack Obama is just one of several global leaders from this overlooked group. What are Cuspers like, and how can marketers engage them? 

Trend 5: Reevaluating the Role of the Sexes 

With many millions of women in a stronger position than ever due to higher education and years of work experience, a new sexual balance is playing out at home and at work. How will women—and men—respond in light of today’s financial turmoil and personal setbacks? 

Trend 6: The True Third Place 

Whether engrossed in a newspaper or watching a film, people have long used media to access a Third Place—a respite between work and home. Now, thanks to 21st-century media, we can create our own distinctive, self-curated Third Place: a multi-layered blend of tangible and virtual. Will we use this retreat as a digital social club, or as an isolated hideaway?

Trend 7: New Meanings of Privacy 

What does privacy mean in a world where ordinary people expose themselves to the judgment of millions on reality shows? Will attention-seekers and privacy-seekers alike end up hiding in plain sight—blending into the crowd as millions and millions post personal happenings on blogs and social networking sites? 

Trend 8: Looking Beyond Consumption 

Years of sustained economic growth led consumers to expect a lot more than functional benefits from their purchases; fun, status, power, desirability, belonging, distinction and self-esteem were requisites, too. As the Reboot unfolds, what will happen to consumption as we know it? 

Trends 9: Taking Risks to Fix Health Care 

Today’s health care system is too costly to fix … and too costly to ignore. Stakeholders have the potential to turn this lose-lose situation into a win-win that unleashes new levels of scientific, economic and health benefits—but only if they are willing to take risks to overcome the hurdles of vested interests. 

Trend 10: Harnessing Technology for Early Warnings 

Starting now, citizens expect their leaders to see economic crises and other threats coming and to deal with them effectively before things implode. Technology has had a hand in today’s financial panic. How quickly can we use it to create a global early warning system that will help protect us?

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Information Resources, Inc launches IRI Market Pulse research report

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Information Resources, Inc. on Wednesday launched IRI Market Pulse report, which provides results of rapid, topical research on an ongoing basis.

IRI’s first Market Pulse speaks to the recent decline in gas and energy prices—shoppers are placing those saved dollars and putting them back into the bank. According to the Market Pulse survey, 87 percent of respondents are continuing to try to save gas despite falling prices; 85 percent are continuing to be “very cautious in their spending; and 74 percent believe the current falling gas prices are only temporary.

Consumers remain extremely negative about the U.S. economy as a whole—just 19 percent of respondents expect the economy to improve in the next six months.  These shoppers continue to pursue a wide range of money-saving strategies, such as eating out less, cooking in more, and trying to make basic goods, such as cleaning supplies and shampoos, last longer.

“It is clear that decreasing gas and energy prices will have little or no impact on shopper behavior over the holidays,” stated Thom Blischok, president of IRI consulting and innovation. “Conditioned by spiking energy and commodity prices, the severe problems in U.S. financial markets and the fall into recession, shoppers are cutting back severely.”

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