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SpartanNash plans store investments

SpartanNash said Thursday it plans to invest in the Nash Finch retail locations it acquired last year, particularly in booming North Dakota.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company has “a fair number of remodels that are going to take place,” said Dennis Eidson, president and CEO, in a conference call discussing first-quarter results. “We’re making a particularly significant investment up in the North Dakota market where we’re getting strong population growth — and North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.7%.


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“It’s kind of refreshing to be in markets where population is growing and there is full employment. So, you can expect that we will be deploying capital strategically in the Nash Finch portfolio over the next couple of years.”

In addition to the store remodels, Eidson said the company also was looking at rolling out a loyalty program to the Nash Finch stores, and remerchandising some locations during the next six months. He noted that Nash Finch’s stores in Omaha, Neb., have been particularly pressured by Walmart’s expansion there.

In contrast, Spartan’s own retail operations posted comparable-store sales gains of 2.5% in the 16-week first quarter, which ended April 19. The comps were boosted 70 basis points by a calendar shift — the slower week that follows Easter took place in the second quarter of this year, as opposed to the first quarter of a year ago.

Eisdon noted that transaction counts were “slightly negative,” while sales per transaction were positive relative to a year ago, boosted by a “pretty robust performance in pharmacy,” where the company has had 13 consecutive quarters with prescription-count gains. He said inflation at the wholesale level was up less than 1%, driven by cost increases in meat and seafood, but offset by deflation in some categories.

Total sales for first quarter increased 199.1% to $ 2.3 billion, primarily due to $ 1.5 billion in sales generated as a result of the November 2013 merger with Nash Finch Co., plus the 2.5% comp-store sales gains and new business in the company’s wholesale distribution segment.

Operating earnings were $ 27.6 million, up about 26%, primarily due to contributions from the merger with Nash Finch, partially offset by merger integration costs of $ 4.2 million, higher LIFO (last-in, first-out inventory accounting) and stock compensation expense and the impact of low inflation. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations for the first quarter were $ 15.2 million, compared with $ 11.4 million last year.

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Italy: What are the subsidies for new investments in technology? Angelo Benedetti (UNITEC) replies

Macfrut, Pav. B – Stand 202-204 and 215-217
Italy: What are the subsidies for new investments in technology? Angelo Benedetti (UNITEC) replies

UNITEC SpA, located in Lugo (Emilia-Romagna), is a company working for the innovation of the produce sector thanks to technologies dedicated to more than 35 types of fruit and vegetable.

Founded with its current name in 1993, nowadays UNITEC employs more than 150 people. It has branches operating in the most important countries in the produce sector (France, Spain, Chile, Argentina and United States) and works as a marketing structure able to figure out the needs of the clients in other 20 countries.

UNITEC went from a €1.5 million turnover to more than 40 million in twenty years-90% of it comes from foreign markets.

FreshPlaza interviewed chairman Angelo Benedetti (in the photo) for his comment on the current business.

FreshPlaza (FP) – How was the machinery sector affected by the economic crisis?
Angelo Benedetti (AB) – The economic crisis and the consumption crisis led to a drop in prices. This in turn led to a decrease in investments.

We are now facing low demand and more competition. There are also particular situations, like the PSA, which almost cancelled all investments made on this type of fruit.

There are still some cases though, where demand for technologies that help cut processing cost is still good, as it helps fighting the difficulties of the sector.

FP – What are the subsidies at an Italian and European level for those companies wanting to buy machinery to process fruit and vegetables?
AB – We are not aware of all the subsidies because they are different for each type of organisation/private company/cooperative. And they also depend on the geographical area.

We would like to stress, though, how the main benefit coming from investing in technology is the saving of money, thanks to which the investment made can be quickly amortised. It also makes processing more efficient and it helps presenting the qualities of each type of fruit.

FP – What are the most promising markets from your point of view?
AB – We don’t believe in promising markets, as we only rely on our capability of providing a solution for our clients, whether they are a few kilometres from home or on the other side of the world.

Clients who have invested in innovative technologies can improve the quality of their products, and this in turn stimulates new investments as they can count on the trust of producers and retailers/final consumers.

FP – Can you tell us something on your market share in Italy and abroad with respect to your direct competitors?
AB – It’s not easy for me to answer this question, as I don’t know the precise data.

We can say that the technologies created by our R&D department and the results they have achieved increased our work, but we don’t know if this also happened to other manufacturers.

I think I can say that the positive attention towards our technologies has increased both at a domestic and international level.

UNITEC is at Macfrut (25th-27th September 2013).
Pavilion B; Stand 202-204 and 215-217.

Via Provinciale Cotignola, 20/9
48022 Lugo (RA)
Tel.: +39 0545 288884
Fax: +39 0545 288709
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 9/25/2013