Grocery giant Publix is said to be considering a bid for Harris Teeter, which runs five stores in the Nashville area and more than 200 stores across the Southeast. Harris Teeter's execs recently hired JPMorgan Chase to market the company, which has annual sales of $4.5 billion. Publix, which reported its Q4 results this morning, has annual sales of $27.5 billion.
Turnip Truck owner John Dyke has beefed up his team's culinary lineup with the hiring of Meg Giuffrida as director of food services. Giuffrida, who most recently worked at the Martha O'Bryan Center, has in the past run Bongo Java East's brunch operation and is the former proprietor of The Red Wagon café in East Nashville.
“I watched Meg grow The Red Wagon catering business into to a full-fledged neighborhood café utilizing the best fresh, local ingredients with a loyal following,” said Dyke. “In between, she provided all the carry-out food for The Turnip Truck Natural Market in East Nashville when we opened in 2001. It was then that I fell in love with her dedication to creating simple, delicious natural food.”
Locally based Tasti D-Lite franchisees Scott Hughes and Benton Tatum have big plans to take their operations into the world of Walmart. The duo, which also runs so-called nontraditional outlets further east, will this year open stores combining the Tasti D-Lite and Planet Smoothie concepts inside 20 Walmart locations. For 2013, plans call for the addition of another 100 stores.
Hughes was previously senior vice president of strategy and marketing for EMI Music and part owner and senior vice president of business development for a software business. Most recently, he was a consultant in the music and software industries. Tatum did financial analysis for Ingram Book Group, launching a new company within Ingram called Ingram Publisher Services. He also worked for Southern Land Company in financial and operational modeling.
Target says seven of its Middle Tennessee stores — including those in Brentwood and at Nashville West — are slated to receive upgrades this spring that will expand their fresh food offerings to about 10,000 square feet. The renovations should be complete by the end of June.
It's a deal with few direct Nashville implications, but it's worth pointing out that two of the Southeast's more storied retail names are joining forces. South Carolina-based Bi-Lo on Monday morning said it will pay about $560 million for Winn-Dixie Stores — a company more than twice its size — to create a chain that will run almost 700 stores in eight states. Both brands are expected to stay in use following the deal.
Guggenheim Securities retail analyst John Heinbockel has some follow-up thoughts on the inflation ripples caused by Dollar General last week. The locally based discounter (Ticker: DG) had said it was for the most part holding off on passing through price hikes on consumable goods, but Heinbockel — who formally follows Kroger in this space — suggests that may prove to be a costly strategy.
[I]t is questionable whether "eating" this inflation will result in increased volumes, given the fragile state of the consumer. Finally, it is even more questionable whether incremental traffic would result in improved discretionary sales. It would appear the safest approach would be to pass through inflation, hope to hold comps steady, attack SG&A more aggressively, and expand EBIT margin via expense leverage.
Heinbockel added he doesn't expect consumable demand to suffer from inflation pressures — he points out that the price of a basket of 125 goods at market leader Wal-Mart is up "only" 3.7 percent this year — but that discretionary purchases will be far more affected.
Over at Avondale Partners, analyst Kemp Dolliver says his thesis on shares of Healthcare Realty has been reinforced by a recent meeting with top executives. The company, he wrote to clients Wednesday, has a low-risk strategy that should push up the shares by some 20 percent to $25. On top of that, its dividend yield of 5.7 percent (Ticker: HR) has it looking more interesting compared to other income-oriented investments.
A Nebraska company has acquired almost all of the assets of L.P. Shanks Co., a $200 million third-generation grocery store wholesaler based in Crossville and active from west of Nashville to parts of Virginia and North Carolina. AMCON Distributing officials, who say they've been eyeing the Tennessee region for a while, will also get satellite offices in Murfreesboro and Bristol.
Goodlettsville-based Alliance Marketing, a marketing co-operative for grocery stores around the Southeast, is teaming up with a multinational communications firm to create in-store marketing and media promotions for its clients. Alliance, which represents more than 300 stores (think H.G. Hill and Piggly Wiggly) with annual sales of about $2.2 billion, will start working with Valassis (Ticker: VCI) this quarter.