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Bic launches new Triumph gel pen

BY Allison Cerra

SHELTON, Conn. Bic is launching a new line of pens for the “image conscious professional.”

The Bic Triumph 537RT Retractable gel pen features smooth writing gel ink, a beveled silver clip for a professional look and a rubber grip for comfortable controlled writing. The product is refillable and is available in 0.7mm and 0.5mm point sizes in black, blue and red ink, with a suggested retail price of $3.98 for a two-pack and $6.98 for a four-pack.

BIC also announced it will launch a campaign for the new Triumph line with a consumer sampling program and advertising.

“Consumers are going to enjoy this pen; it has a premium look and feel and provides a very smooth writing experience,” said Mary-Ellen Lacasse, stationery brand manager, Bic Consumer Products USA.

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Ralphs, Food 4 Less raise funds for children

BY Allison Cerra

LOS ANGELES Two banners owned by Kroger are raising funds for pediatric research and hospitals.

Ralphs has rolled out its charitable campaign to benefit City of Hope, which aids pediatric research, treatment and educational programs. Ralphs encourages customers and team members to support the City of Hope’s pediatric cancer “Kids 4 Hope” program through the supermarket chain’s nonprofit arm, The Ralphs Fund, through Feb. 27. Last year, Ralphs provided more than $8 million in cash and in-kind donations to organizations focused on health, education, the fight against hunger, developing our youth, and the environment.

Meanwhile, Food 4 Less announced last week said it would raise funds to support children’s hospitals in the communities its stores serve in Southern California, southern Nevada, and the greater Chicago area. In addition, the supermarket chain’s Foods Co Division is collecting donations for children’s hospitals in central and northern California. The children’s hospital fund-raising campaign will run from February 1 through May 22, 2010. Since 2005, Food 4 Less/Foods Co, its team members and customers have given more than $1 million to children’s hospitals.

“With thousands of children diagnosed each year with cancer, the City of Hope’s Kids for Hope program is important in the fight against the disease, and Ralphs is proud to support this important effort,” said Mike Donnelly, Ralphs president.

Ralphs operates more than 260 supermarkets from its headquarters in Los Angeles. Food 4 Less, also headquartered in Los Angeles, operates 146 warehouse-format supermarkets under the banners Food 4 Less in Southern California, Nevada, Illinois and Indiana, and Foods Co in Northern California.

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Weis Markets reports gains in fiscal-year earnings

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. For the fiscal year ended Dec. 26, 2009, Weis Markets posted sales gains of 3.9% to $2.5 billion on the strength of comparable-store sales increases of 1.8%, the Pennsylvania-based grocer announced Monday.

Weis also said its fourth-quarter sales increased 8.4% to $671.4 million compared with $619.4 million for the same period in 2008. The company’s fourth-quarter comparable-store sales increased 1.9%. Meanwhile, the company reported diluted earnings per share of 58 cents for the fourth quarter compared with 63 cents for the same period a year ago.

“We continue to make progress in a difficult market environment, marked by cautious customer spending and price deflation in key categories,” stated David Hepfinger, Weis Markets’ president and CEO. “Despite these challenges, we have produced five consecutive quarters of strong operating results through improved operating performance, more focused promotional programs and increased efficiencies at store and distribution levels.”

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