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Ackman buys 8.9% stake in Family Dollar

BY Allison Cerra

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Activist investor Bill Ackman, and his Pershing Square Capital Management investment fund, has become the largest owner of Family Dollar stock, according to a regulatory filing.

The filing noted that Ackman has bought a stake of 8.9%.

The news follows just a few months after the retailer turned down an active takeover bid by Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund.

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Royal Ahold sees nearly 6% rise in Q1 sales

BY Alaric DeArment

AMSTERDAM — Sales for Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold increased 5.9% to $13.3 billion in first quarter 2011, the company said.

This compared with first quarter 2010 sales of $12.6 billion at Ahold, which operates the Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover and Stop & Shop chains in the United States, as well as online grocer Peapod. Profits for the quarter were $419.1 million, a 6.2% increase over $394.6 million in 2010.

Sales for Ahold USA were $7.6 billion, a 7.4% increase over first quarter 2010. Same-store sales increased by 5% over last year.

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Henkel doubling production of Purex Complete crystals softener to meet consumer demand

BY Allison Cerra

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Consumer demand has prompted Henkel to double production for one of its Purex products.

The company, which introduced the Purex Complete Crystals softener earlier this year, said that its plants have operated at full capacity since the launch of the in-wash fabric softener to keep up with the unprecedented demand.

To mitigate the number of product shortages until August, Henkel announced that it would suspend production of Purex Complete Crystals softener’s Tropical Splash variety, which is 1-of-3 scents the brand produces.

Thanks to its latest innovation, Henkel reported that it already posted sales of nearly $20 million, despite experiencing a three-year decline in the fabric softener category before 2011.

Eric Schwartz, VP marketing for Henkel North America’s laundry care business, said that as consumer demand drove beyond the planned rate of production, the company chose to increase production accordingly. "The shortage is only temporary, but in the meantime, we’re working nonstop to provide retailers and consumers with the resources necessary to help them during this shortfall of inventory," Schwartz said.

Henkel also has launched a mobile application, the CrystalsFinder mobile app, which helps consumers identify stores that currently are selling the Purex Complete Crystals softener. The service is available at CrystalsFinder.com.

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