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Vons president retires

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Friday said that the leader of its Vons division will retire after serving in the role for more than 10 years.

Tom Keller will retire from his post as president of Vons, a position he has held since 1999, on Feb. 1. An industry veteran that started his career as a food clerk in Safeway’s Phoenix division more than 40 years ago, Keller "leaves an important imprint on the organization as an energetic and innovative leader," Safeway chairman, president and CEO Steve Burd said.

Replacing Keller on an interim basis is Gary Rocheleau, VP retail merchandising execution. As a long-time Vons executive, Rocheleau has held a broad range of positions at Safeway at both the retail and the corporate level.

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Sam’s Club set to open new Baton Rouge store

BY Allison Cerra

BATON ROUGE, La. — Sam’s Club is set to open its newly relocated store in Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 26.

The 134,000-sq.-ft. club, located at 9598 Cortana Place near the junction with Airline Highway, now will be part of the Cortana Mall shopping area, approximately one mile south of its former location. The club also features environmentally friendly materials and LED energy-efficient fixtures.

To celebrate the grand opening, the store will host a Louisiana-pride themed ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8 a.m. on Jan. 26.

"Our associates have provided excellent service to our members for more than 20 years in the former location, and I’m proud of the work they’ve accomplished in getting this new club ready for its grand opening," said club manager Kenneth Heckard. "We can’t wait to show our neighbors in the Baton Rouge area the expanded selection, with savings on everything from prescriptions to fresh foods, office supplies and high-quality jewelry. In this economy, everyone’s trying to save money and find the best values. Our members know that Sam’s Club makes saving simple because we offer exceptional value over traditional retailers."

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Ahold reports positive Q4, full-year results

BY Allison Cerra

AMSTERDAM — Ahold experienced several bright spots during its fourth quarter and full year, the Dutch supermarket company said.

Fourth-quarter net sales totaled $9.4 billion, a 4.5% increase above the year-ago period, while net sales for the year increased by 2.5% to $39.1 billion.

For its U.S. subsidiary, which includes such banners as Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, Ahold said Ahold USA garnered $5.9 billion in fourth-quarter net sales, which were 5% above the year-ago period. Similarly, identical-store sales and comparable-store sales increased 3.9% and 4.2%, respectively. For the full year, net sales totaled $25.1 billion, marking a 6.6% boost over 2010, while identical-store sales and comparable-store sales most experienced positive gains of 4.9% and 5.1%, respectively.

"We are pleased to have delivered another solid performance over the quarter, growing sales and market share in the United States and the Netherlands," the company said. "We continue to be well positioned in challenging market conditions with customers remaining cautious in their spending."

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