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Ciao Bella unveils new products for 2013

BY Jason Owen

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — In a sneak peek of its spring slate, Ciao Bella today announced plans to expand its award-winning gelato and Adonia categories, including new novelty items and Greek frozen yogurt flavors.

Starting in April, Ciao Bella will add a new gelato novelty to its national retail offering: Sea Salt Caramel Gelato Squares. The new gelato sandwiches mark an addition to Ciao Bella’s established collection of dessert novelties that include the Key Lime Graham Gelato Squares, which are among the brand’s 17 NASFT Sofi Gold Award-winning products.

"We’re excited to share the Sea Salt Caramel Gelato Square, as it perfectly embodies what makes the Ciao Bella brand so unique," said executive chef Danilo Zecchin. "By pairing our handcrafted Sea Salt Caramel Gelato with our signature novelty sandwich concept, we’re allowing consumers to enjoy a familiar Italian-inspired flavor with an innovative twist."

Also joining the brand’s 2013 lineup are six new Adonia by Ciao Bella products, including five novelty items — Raspberry Vanilla Bars, Mango Vanilla Bars, Vanilla Squares, Chocolate Squares, and Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Squares — and one new yogurt flavor that infuses the brand’s Greek frozen yogurt line with a nod to its most popular sorbet flavor: Blood Orange Vanilla Swirl.


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Reports: Buffett, Lemann buy H.J. Heinz; Buffett investment group increases Costco holding

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The investment groups of billionaires Warren Buffett and Jorge Paulo Lemann will buy H.J. Heinz for about $23 billion, according to published reports.

Bloomberg reported that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Lemann’s 3G Capital would buy the condiment maker for $72.50 per share, and the deal includes $12 billion to $13 billion from Buffett’s group. Heinz also owns the Ore-Ida potato chip brand.

In other news, Berkshire Hathaway increased its holdings in Costco Wholesale, acquiring 6,457 shares of the company for $28.26 per share, bringing its total shares in the club retailer to 139,297, according to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday.


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ShopperTrak eyes improvement in retail foot traffic over coming months

BY Jason Owen

CHICAGO — Shopper activity will continue to improve intermittently through the first half of 2013, according to ShopperTrak, the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic.

ShopperTrak estimates during the first quarter of 2013, national retail sales will increase 3.2% and retail foot traffic will increase 3.5%, when compared to the same period last year. The company estimates during the second quarter of 2013, national retail sales will increase 2.9%, though foot traffic will remain flat with a 0% change, when compared to the same period in 2012.

"This year is starting strong," said ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin. "Indeed, the first quarter will not only include the usual sales events for Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day, but also grab Easter sales as the holiday falls earlier in the calendar this year. This activity will cause a spike in the first quarter and a lull in the second, for which retailers need to prepare."

Retailers pushed to extend the high levels of holiday season shopping activity into the first quarter of the year. The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday fell on Jan. 21, several days later than it has been the past few years. This gave retailers extra time to promote their post-holiday sales. Many of them seized the opportunity and were able to drive elevated levels of retail sales and foot traffic.

This surge in shopper activity calmed in late January. The shopping lull between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Valentine’s Day generally is brief because consumers soon begin to shop for their valentines. ShopperTrak forecasts that winter storm Nemo will negatively impact retail traffic and sales for this Valentine’s Day.

"Winter Storm Nemo pounded the Northeast during the final weekend before the holiday, impeding foot traffic to stores," said Martin. "Traffic could be impacted further based on how long the region requires to recover. However, many shoppers will head back to stores the following weekend for Presidents Day sales."

ShopperTrak forecasts that retail sales and foot traffic will continue to steadily increase through Easter, which falls on March 31 this year. The early date places the holiday and its shopper activity within the first quarter, sapping sales and traffic from April and the second quarter.

"Easter generally drives a flurry of shopping for spring clothes, shoes and gifts," said Martin. "While the holiday’s traffic and sales usually boost the second quarter, this year Easter activity will be attributed to March. After planning their marketing and operations against the first quarter holidays, retailers will need to carefully manage and optimize their operations to the shopper activity throughout the second quarter."


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