Retail Wrap: Hy-Vee takes Rolling Stone issue off shelves

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Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 12:00 am

Hy-Vee, the West Des Moines, Iowa-based supermarket chain, has joined the ranks of retailers that will not sell the August issue of Rolling Stone magazine in their stores. The controversial magazine issue, which was released last week, features a photograph of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover.

Hy-Vee said the magazine cover generated a flurry of questions and complaints from customers.

“In general, the decision whether or not to carry a particular publication rests with each individual store,” Hy-Vee said on its website. “However, in response to feedback from our customers, we have asked all our stores to refrain from displaying or selling the issue of Rolling Stone in question.”

Hy-Vee joins CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid and several grocery chains, including Milwaukee-based Roundy's Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas-based United Supermarkets and San Antonio-based H-E-B stores, that have banned the issue. Grocery retailers that serve customers in the northeastern U.S. and Massachusetts, including Stop & Shop, Big Y Foods and Wegmans, were among the first chains to announce they would not sell the current issue of Rolling Stone.

Nash Finch is sold

Spartan Stores Inc., a Michigan-based grocery distributor and retailer, has struck a deal to purchase food distributor and grocery retailer Nash Finch in an all-stock deal valued at $1.3 billion.

Nash Finch, which is the nation's largest military commissary supplier in terms of revenue, also operates 75 supermarkets in eight states, including Nebraska and Iowa. Its brands include Avanza, Family Fresh Market, Sun Mart and Family Thrift Center. Last year, it expanded its Nebraska presence when it acquired 12 Bag 'N Save supermarkets in Omaha and York and 18 No Frills supermarkets.

Nash Finch had sales of $4.8 billion in fiscal 2012.

Nash Finch investors will receive 1.2 shares in Spartan Stores for every share of common stock they own, the companies said Monday. Spartan Stores shareholders will own about 58 percent of the combined company, while investors in Minneapolis-based Nash Finch will own the remaining 42 percent. The deal, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, is expected to close at the end of the year.

The combined company, which expects annual sales of about $7.5 billion, will operate 22 grocery distribution centers covering 37 states and 177 retail stores. Earnings will be boosted starting in the first full year of operations, while annual cost savings of $50 million will be achieved by the third year, the retailers said.

“Together, we will create one of the premier grocery wholesaler and retail operators, with a comprehensive portfolio of high-quality private brands, nationwide distribution services and a strong platform for future growth,” Spartan Stores chief executive Dennis Eidson said in a statement.

There was no mention of name changes for the various grocery stores the two companies currently operate.

The combined company will “continue to have a variety of banners — our Family Fresh, our No Frills ... our Sun Mart,” Alec Covington, president and chief executive of Nash Finch said in an investor conference call Monday

“I don't think there will be any ... rebranding,” grocery analyst David Livingston said Monday. Livingston said that according to his estimates, Bag 'N Save and No Frills make up “about 70 percent of Nash Finch's sales in Nebraska.”

Grand Rapids-based Spartan is the nation's ninth-largest grocery distributor with 1.9 million square feet of warehouse, distribution and office space. Last year, Spartan had sales of $2.6 billion. The company distributes more than 40,000 products to 390 independent grocers in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and its 101 Michigan retail locations, which operate under several banners, including Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen's Markets, D&W Fresh Markets and Valu Land.

Goodwill in Gretna

Gretna's new Goodwill store is expected to open in early October, said Randy Parks, chief operating officer of Goodwill Industries Inc.

The Gretna location will be the 14th free-standing Goodwill building, and one of 18 stores throughout the area. The 15,500-square-foot structure, located at 11722 Standing Stone Drive, will house a retail store, production room, donation center and an employment and training room.

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