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H.D. Smith completes acquisition of Calif. drug wholesaler

BY Alaric DeArment

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Drug wholesaler H.D. Smith has finalized its purchase of a wholesale company based in California.

H.D. Smith said Friday that it had completed its acquisition of Stockton, Calif.-based Valley Wholesale Drug, which it will run as a wholly owned subsidiary. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but day-to-day operations at Valley will be run by its CEO, Stephen Shoneff.

“The close of the acquisition of Valley Wholesale Drug marks a significant step in our strategy to continue growing our national footprint to serve more independent pharmacists across the country — especially in the critical market of California, and moving forward, into the Pacific Northwest,” H.D. Smith chairman and CEO Dale Smith said. “We will continue to focus on exceptional service to our core customers — the retail independent pharmacy — and we will be well-served to execute on this objective under the leadership of Stephen Shoneff, who has managed the Valley Wholesale Drug business successfully during the last 26 years.” 

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NRF files brief opposing class action settlement of swipe fee case

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation and more than a dozen retailers on Thusday asked a judge to reject a proposed class-action settlement of a federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Visa and MasterCard because of credit card swipe fees. The NRF suggested the settlement would not bring credit card swipe fees under control and does not give retailers who oppose it an adequate mechanism to opt out.

“The proposal pending before the court does nothing to keep these soaring fees from continuing to drive prices higher for American consumers, and would block merchants who believe in true swipe fee reform from ever having their day in court,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan stated. “While the remaining parties would like to treat preliminary approval as a routine procedural step, the court should recognize that this settlement is so legally flawed it cannot be tweaked into fairness," he said. “Instead of improving the situation, the proposed settlement would cast in stone the very problems that need to be fixed."

Nine merchants supporting the settlement filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 19 asking for preliminary approval of the proposal, and oral arguments are scheduled for Nov. 9. 

Preliminary approval would begin a months-long process in which all retailers who accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards would be sent notices giving them the opportunity to either accept the settlement or opt out of part of it. Arguments on the merits of the settlement and whether it should be given final approval would not begin until sometime next year.

NRF is not a party to the suit, but represents retailers who would be affected if the case is approved as a class action. Retailers joining NRF in today’s brief included the following 17 companies and two associations that are not parties to the suit but would be affected: Abercrombie and Fitch, American Booksellers Association, American Signature, Ascena Retail Group, Big Lots Stores, Bob Evans Farms, Boscov’s, Chico’s, CKE Restaurants, Dillard’s, GAP, JCPenney, Limited Brands, Macy’s, the National Association of College Stores, Neiman Marcus Group, Papa John’s, Saks and Target.

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Harris Teeter reports sales gains of 5.8% for its fiscal 2012

BY Michael Johnsen

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Harris Teeter Supermarkets on Thursday posted sales of $4.5 billion for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 2, up 5.8%. Comparable store sales increased by 4% for the year 

“We are pleased with our results for fiscal 2012 and the completion of our purchase and sale transaction with Lowes Foods," stated Thomas Dickson, Harris Teeter chairman and CEO. "On a comparable store basis, we continue to experience increased unit sales compared to the prior year, and our store-brand penetration continues to improve. We believe these positive results are attributable to our continuing commitment to our customers to deliver outstanding values and excellent customer service.”

Over the course of fiscal 2012, Harris Teeter opened 13 stores, including six stores acquired from Lowes Foods, and closed eight stores. In addition, one store located in the Washington, D.C., market has been temporarily closed while the company repairs damage caused by flooding that occurred in the third quarter of fiscal 2012. 

Harris Teeter operated 208 stores as of the end of fiscal 2012, and retail square footage increased by 4.5% for the fiscal year. 

Capital expenditures for fiscal 2012 totaled $200 million and are expected to total approximately $235 million for fiscal 2013, the grocer reported. The fiscal 2013 capital plan includes 12 new stores and nine major remodels. In addition, the company anticipates re-opening the store in the Washington, D.C., market that was closed to repair damage caused by flooding. The fiscal 2013 store development program is expected to result in a 5.4% increase in retail square footage.

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