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Safeway hopes to buy out senior notes

BY Dan Berthiaume

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway is offering to pay cash consent fees to holders of three series of senior notes due in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Note holders who accept the fees would release Safeway of the obligation to repurchase the notes at 1% interest when its expected fourth quarter merger with Albertson’s LLC occurs.
 
The consent fee offer expires Oct. 3, 2014. Holders of a majority of the principal of each series of notes must accept the consent fees for Safeway to be able to pay them out. In this case, Safeway will not have to repurchase any notes from holders who do not accept the consent fees.
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Survey: Online retailers focusing on customer-facing services for holiday season

BY Dan Berthiaume

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Online retailers are prioritizing immediate investments in customer-facing tactics such as price, marketing and customer service over strategic infrastructure for the 2014 holiday season. According to the 2014 Holiday Retail Audit, a U.S. survey of more than 1,000 ecommerce and marketing professionals from retailers with revenues of $5 million to $250 million conducted by EBay Enterprise, retailers identified a renewed focus in marketing efforts.
 
Survey results show that retailers have been investing in tools with greater data capture and analytical capabilities, including social media (29%), email promotions (22%) and search engine optimization (12%). These investments also help retailers feel better prepared to capture in-store consumer data (87%).
 
Large retailers reported heightened concern around data security at their company (65%), while 77% have not experienced a security breach to date.
 
Although respondents revealed mobile commerce as their top competitive weakness and the area of infrastructure in which they are least confident, 68% did not express plans for new or continued investments in mobile infrastructure for holiday 2014. One in three online retailers cited mobile commerce as an investment priority for holiday 2014, ranking ninth, signaling a lack of urgency in solidifying a long-term mobile infrastructure and strategy despite mobile commerce continuing to be the fastest growing segment of ecommerce.
 
Fifty-one percent of retailers viewed Amazon as a direct competitor heading into the 2014 holiday season, citing Amazon having a perceived competitive edge in mobile commerce (60%), inventory (56%), shipping (54%) and returns (44%).
 
While 45% of large online retailers detailed plans to invest in global expansion for holiday 2014, the investment priorities contradicted market opportunity. This study revealed the top markets for global ecommerce expansion were Canada (23%), followed by the U.K. (16%), China (15%), Australia (7%) and Mexico (5%), respectively.
 
Large online retailers cited a lack of reliable local partners (33%), diminished market demand (32%) and hampered inventory capabilities (31%) as top barriers for pursuing new global opportunities. Although Canada provides easy entry into global expansion, the market opportunity globally is immense and retailers have options to help them take that first step.
 
“The 2014 Holiday Retail Audit underlined the short-term focus retailers have on investing in tools that allow them to compete with their peers,” said Steve Denton, VP marketing solutions. “Nimble retailers need to be laser focused on consumer data as they head into executing holiday strategy in order to map investments back to ROI while maintaining strong margins. There is still time to implement display, retargeting, attribution and social solutions capable of ensuring that a retailer’s brand message reaches new and lost prospects with commitment to the consumer’s privacy.”
 
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Seven products of interest coming out of 2014 Nat Expo East

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Convention Center this year played host to more than 23,000 attendees and 1,277 exhibitors at the 2014 Nat Expo East convention for specialty channel operators in the natural food and health space. Each year, DSN highlights some products coming out of the show that could make a splash in the mass market — whether it's an appeal to a particular niche demographic or a trend that's percolating across the specialty space. 
 
Here are this year's products of interest: 
 
Panacea Beverage Company is making a direct play for influential Millennials with its launch of My Cause Spring Water. Five cents from the purchase of every bottle is donated to the local charity of the purchaser's choice. Philanthropic consumers go to the company's website MyCauseWater.com, identify their preferred charity and enter their bottle's barcode. If the consumer does nothing, five cents is still donated to a charity of Panacea's choosing. 
 
 
Millennials, a burgeoning demographic, are interested in altruistic brands, according to Maryellen Molyneaux, president of NMI, in a presentation earlier this year at a GMDC event. “When they know that your company is mindful of its impact on the environment and society, 65% say they’re more likely to try your products; 55% say they’re more likely to talk about you with their friends,” she said. And they’re less price-sensitive, Molyneaux added.
 
Rainbow Light introduced a gummy vitamin to their line of prenatal nutrients in Prenatal Precious Gems, bringing the popular product format to their niche focus on pregnant women. The formulation includes DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid necessary for the development of baby's brain and eyes, along with other prenatal-friendly ingredients like folic acid and zinc. 
 
 
There were many probiotic products on hand. Solgar, for example, showcased its Ohso Belgian chocolate probiotic that contains both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium as part of a chocolate bar free from gluten and nuts. Sold individually as part of a checkstand display, the bars retailed for a suggested $1.49. A 7-day pack sells for a suggested $9.99.
 
 
UAS LifeSciences also had a chocolate-like probiotic product geared for children. Featuring the consistency and flavor of white chocolate, UAS launched UP4 Kids Cubes. An 11-count sells for a suggested $11 and a 40-count for $19. And like Panacea Beverage, UAS LifeSciences is tying its new product to a charitable organization. In this case it's Vitamin Angels, for every package of Kids Cubes sold, UAS will donate 25 cents to the organization. 
 
 
Youtheory showcased Mens Collagen ($20.95) and Mens Joint Collagen ($32.95) lines at the Nat Expo East show. While collagen is often associated as an anti-aging supplement, according to Youtheory it also rejuvenates hair and supports bone health. The Joint formula also includes a proprietary Mens Joint Blend ingredient that contains bromelain, cinnamon extract, Boswella Serrata extract, ginger extract and Bioperine black pepper extract. 
 
 
The Nat Expo East convention is well known for the amount of natural food samples that can be had while perusing the aisles. In addition to non-GMO claims, many of the snack manufacturers were touting sprouted ingredients. Seeds, beans and grains each have a natural protective layer. Allowing those ingredients to sprout naturally makes digestion easier and increases nutrient absorption. LivingIntentions had on hand its complete line of Gone Nuts!, nut mixtures that contain raw and sprouted nut blends. Each bag sold for a suggested $4.99. 
 
 
And Way Better Snacks, in addition to its line of better-for-you chips, launched its Way Better sprouted cracker line for early 2015. According to the company, Americans continue to trade traditional meals for smaller eating occasions throughout the day and since 2004, the number of consumers categorized as "healthy snackers" has grown from 29 million to 41 million. The cracker line includes four SKUs:  Rosemarry Me & Olive Oil, Back in Black Bean & Salsa, Beyond the Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper and Mustard & Cheddar Way Better. 
 
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