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Market Basket acquisition complete

Years of reported infighting came to a head June 23, when Market Basket’s board of directors fired Arthur T. Demoulas, president and chief executive officer. Weeks of employee and customer protests brought him back into the fold, and now he has completed his acquisition of the company.

Demoulas and his family announced that as of 1 p.m. Dec. 12, they have completed the purchase of the 50.5 percent of the Demoulas Supermarkets Inc. that they did not previously own, and now have 100 percent ownership of the Market Basket grocery store chain.

Newly opened Market Basket locations in Revere, Littleton and Waltham, MA, over the last 60 days bring the chain’s total tally to 73 stores.

Since the team led by Demoulas returned to Market Basket on Aug. 28, there have been significant changes: sales and customer counts have been higher than last year; three new stores opened in the past six weeks; 1,300 new jobs have been created; and an employee bonus of $ 49 million was shared this week with associates, including full and part-time Associates.

“Arthur T. Demoulas and the Market Basket team remain fervently dedicated to our customers and our More For Your Dollar commitment to them,” David McLean, Market Basket operations manager, said in a press release.  “We eagerly embark on this new chapter for the company, and expect steady growth in both the near and long term.  The world witnessed just how incredible our customers and associates are and the rock solid commitment we have to our ‘people first’ culture.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Market Basket acquisition complete

Years of reported infighting came to a head June 23, when Market Basket’s board of directors fired Arthur T. Demoulas, president and chief executive officer. Weeks of employee and customer protests brought him back into the fold, and now he has completed his acquisition of the company.

Demoulas and his family announced that as of 1 p.m. Dec. 12, they have completed the purchase of the 50.5 percent of the Demoulas Supermarkets Inc. that they did not previously own, and now have 100 percent ownership of the Market Basket grocery store chain.

Newly opened Market Basket locations in Revere, Littleton and Waltham, MA, over the last 60 days bring the chain’s total tally to 73 stores.

Since the team led by Demoulas returned to Market Basket on Aug. 28, there have been significant changes: sales and customer counts have been higher than last year; three new stores opened in the past six weeks; 1,300 new jobs have been created; and an employee bonus of $ 49 million was shared this week with associates, including full and part-time Associates.

“Arthur T. Demoulas and the Market Basket team remain fervently dedicated to our customers and our More For Your Dollar commitment to them,” David McLean, Market Basket operations manager, said in a press release.  “We eagerly embark on this new chapter for the company, and expect steady growth in both the near and long term.  The world witnessed just how incredible our customers and associates are and the rock solid commitment we have to our ‘people first’ culture.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

FDA Must Complete FSMA Rules by Mid-2015, Judge Says

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must publish all of the regulations required under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act by June 30, 2015, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the U.S. District Court of Northern California rejected FDA’s proposed timeline for completion of the regulations, which outlined “target timelines” of 2015 through 2016 for the publishing of all final rules.

“The court finds defendant’s ‘target timeframes’ to be an inadequate response to the request that the parties submit a proposal regarding deadlines that can form the basis of an injunction,” wrote Hamilton in her decision.

The ruling marked the latest, and possibly last, phase in the suit brought by the Center for Food Safety against FDA for the agency’s failure to meet several deadlines for the writing of FSMA-mandated rules. In a petition filed August 29, 2012, CFS asked the court to order the completion of the delayed rules.

Since that time, FDA has released three of the seven key rules that CFS sited as overdue in its filing, including the proposed rule for produce safety, the proposed rule for preventive controls across the food supply and new requirements for food facility registration.  Three other rules have been submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which must approve the proposed rules before they are released. These include new standards for foreign food suppliers, preventive controls for animal feed and standards ensuring the neutrality of third-party audits.

A regulation ensuring the safe transport of food, also mandated by FSMA, has yet to be submitted to OMB.

On April 13 of this year, Judge Hamilton issued a motion for summary judgment, requesting the parties to submit remedy proposals for new deadlines.

While the Court found the deadlines submitted by FDA to be too fluid, it also acknowledged the complexity of FDA’s task and did not require the agency to publish all of its final rules by May 1, 2014, the amended deadline that CFS had proposed. The Court said this date was “overly restrictive” and could also lead to the curtailing of the public comment periods for the rules, a situation the Court wished to avoid.

“This is a critical victory for consumers, farmers, and the public health,” said George Kimbrell, CFS senior attorney in a statement. “The Court’s decision will ensure FDA cannot unduly delay these life-saving measures any longer, while also ensuring all interested parties have a meaningful say in their outcome.”

Food Safety News

Harris Teeter CEO retires; merger with Kroger complete

The Kroger Co. and Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. completed their merger transaction Jan. 28. The two companies also announced the retirement of Thomas W. Dickson as chairman and chief executive officer of Harris Teeter.

“We are pleased that our merger is complete and look forward to bringing together the best of Kroger and Harris Teeter to benefit our customers, associates and shareholders,” W. Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, said in a press release.

“This merger brings the exceptional Harris Teeter brand and a complementary base of stores in attractive markets to the Kroger family,” he said. “We have long respected Harris Teeter’s customer orientation, friendly and professional associates, strong management team and company values — which are consistent with ours. Together, through our customer-first strategy, we are going to be an outstanding combination.”

The transaction allows Kroger to expand with the “Harris Teeter” brand and a base of 227 stores in the fast-growing and attractive southeastern and mid-Atlantic markets and in Washington, DC.

Harris Teeter, which had revenues of $ 4.7 billion for fiscal year 2013, will continue to operate its stores under the “Harris Teeter” brand name as a subsidiary of The Kroger Co.

“We are excited that Kroger, one of the best food retailers in the U.S., has recognized the value in Harris Teeter,” Dickson added in the release. “This successful transaction is, first and foremost, a tribute to our outstanding management teams and associates. Their tireless commitment to delivering great value and excellent customer service has been instrumental in building Harris Teeter into the unique brand that it is today. The merger with Kroger provides the opportunity to continue to expand the Harris Teeter brand as well as to provide future employment and career advancement opportunities for our associates in an increasingly competitive market. The merger also is the culmination of a long track record of delivering substantial value to our shareholders.”

Regarding Dickson’s retirement, McMullen said, “Tad has done an outstanding job as the CEO for the past 16 years. During his tenure as CEO, the management team of Harris Teeter has more than doubled the sales of the company and increased the operating profit fourfold by building over 100 new stores, expanding into new markets and improving the overall operating performance of the company. We look forward to working closely with the management team to continue to expand the Harris Teeter brand.”

Kroger and Harris Teeter also announced the resignation of John Woodlief, executive vice president, who has served as chief financial officer since 1999. Prior to that time, he served as managing partner of the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Carolinas offices. Independence rules concerning Woodlief’s previous position with PricewaterhouseCoopers, who serve as Kroger’s independent accountants, prohibit him from serving in a financial role with Kroger. He will pursue other interests and will be available for consultation to the company.

Together, the company will operate 2,641 supermarkets and employ more than 368,000 associates across 34 states and the District of Columbia. Harris Teeter will continue to operate its stores as a subsidiary of The Kroger Co. and will continue to be led by Fred Morganthall, Harris Teeter’s current president. There are no plans to close stores, and associates will continue to have employment opportunities.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Tops Friendly Markets buyout complete

Tops Friendly Markets announced the acquisition of Tops Holding II by a group of senior managers closed Dec. 1.

“The management team at Tops truly has a passion for the business and dedication to the core values of the organization, and has led the company’s tremendous growth over the past six years,” Frank Curci, Tops president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.  ”This transaction represents the next step in the natural evolution of Tops that began six years ago when we returned operations and decision making to our local markets.  Now with local ownership as well, we will be able to build on our successes of the recent past, deepen our commitment to the markets we serve, and further expand to better serve our associates and customers.”

The senior managers in the acquisition group consists of Curci; Kevin Darrington, chief operating officer; Rick Mills, chief financial officer; John Persons, senior vice president of operations; Jack Barrett, senior vice president of human resources; and Lynne Burgess, senior vice president and general counsel. 

During the past six years under Curci’s leadership, Tops has more than doubled the number of its stores, added new jobs and expanded its geographic reach into eastern and northern New York, Vermont and northern Pennsylvania. In April, Tops also opened Orchard Fresh, a specialty and gourmet food store in Orchard Park, NY.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Tops Friendly Markets buyout complete

Tops Friendly Markets announced the acquisition of Tops Holding II by a group of senior managers closed Dec. 1.

“The management team at Tops truly has a passion for the business and dedication to the core values of the organization, and has led the company’s tremendous growth over the past six years,” Frank Curci, Tops president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.  ”This transaction represents the next step in the natural evolution of Tops that began six years ago when we returned operations and decision making to our local markets.  Now with local ownership as well, we will be able to build on our successes of the recent past, deepen our commitment to the markets we serve, and further expand to better serve our associates and customers.”

The senior managers in the acquisition group consists of Curci; Kevin Darrington, chief operating officer; Rick Mills, chief financial officer; John Persons, senior vice president of operations; Jack Barrett, senior vice president of human resources; and Lynne Burgess, senior vice president and general counsel. 

During the past six years under Curci’s leadership, Tops has more than doubled the number of its stores, added new jobs and expanded its geographic reach into eastern and northern New York, Vermont and northern Pennsylvania. In April, Tops also opened Orchard Fresh, a specialty and gourmet food store in Orchard Park, NY.

Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Alsum Farms & Produce to complete specialty potato packaging facility in early November

Alsum Farms & Produce Inc., a grower-packer-shipper of potatoes, a repacker of onions and a wholesale distributor of a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables, based in Friesland, WI, is nearing completion of its 15,000-square-foot specialty potato packaging facility and expects to have it up and running in early November.

With the completion of the facility, Alsum Farms & Produce will have a total of 130,000 square feet of production and warehouse facilities with 140 full-time employees.

Over the last 18 to 24 months, Larry Alsum, president of the company, conducted conceptual and design research with suppliers from Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Alsum completed benchmarking studies and visited various suppliers around the globe to collect information about specialty potato packaging best practices.

“We’ve collected input first-hand from around the world to determine which produce packaging technologies and processes will best serve the needs of customers while meeting Alsum’s strict sustainability standards,” Scott Doleshaw, chief operating officer, said in a press release. “Sustainability is a constant focus for us. This facility’s automated systems will require less labor and energy. We also utilize a recycled water system.”

The Friesland facilities house the administrative offices, test kitchen and clean environment packing facilities. Alsum utilizes the test kitchen to develop new potato recipes, conduct taste tests and validate preparation instructions. In the future, a deep fryer will be installed in order to test new and existing Wisconsin potato varieties.

The packaging facility is used for Alsum’s specialty potato produce lines — red, white, golden, and fingerlings — as well as Alsum’s special line of individually wrapped microwave russet singles and its foil-wrapped Griller Russet.

The new facility has expanded Alsum’s packaging capacity and gives Alsum greater flexibility in creating customized packaging for its customers as well.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our customers because we can help customers expand their own unique fresh produce product lines,” Heidi Alsum-Randall, marketing manager, added in the press release.

Alsum’s specialty potato packaging facility will ensure premier quality with temperature- and humidity-controlled packaging and storage environments. The most advanced quality and inspection processes utilizing stainless steel systems and equipment are also in place, including a shrink-wrap system and six-axis robotic packaging cell.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines