Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Campbell Soup’s CEO steps up


conantCampbell Soup CEO Doug Conant, who spends his day selling soup, V8 vegetable juice and crackers, wrapped up his appearance at the Reuters Food Summit in Chicago with an exercise tip.

“Our lives are incredibly chaotic,” said the 57-year-old CEO, who says he has found an easy way to step up his exercise and burn off calories from some of his favorite foods, such as Campbell’s tomato rice soup and a grilled cheese sandwich made on his company’s Pepperidge Farm bread.

“My assistant looks for a free half hour every day,” said Conant, who is ready to lace up his sneakers when the moment is right. 

walk“Conant says he can get in 3,000 steps or more in a half hour.  Some studies suggest that 10,000 steps a day can help control weight.  But even if you fall below that, experts say any amount of exercise is good.

L.A. keeps on (taco) truckin’!


kogi211Meet Kogi, L.A.’s newest celebrity.

It’s not a buxom starlet or a hunky leading man, it’s a Korean-themed taco truck that sells things like Korean short rib tacos to home-made ice cream sandwiches and daily specials.

In a city where taco trucks are as ubiquitous as New York City’s hot dog vendors, Kogi has used technology lure fans.

Bennigan’s mulligan


bennigansThe new owners of Bennigan’s restaurants are hoping to tap into some Irish luck as they relaunch the brand with a Blarney Blast ’09 St. Patrick’s Day party.

The “get your green on” celebration will run through April and highlight the 113-restaurant chain’s new menu and direction.

Check Out Line: Anyone bidding on an overhaul at eBay?


ebayCheck out the transformation eBay, the Internet’s premier auction website, hopes to pull off.

Trying to ease fears its best days are in the rearview mirror, eBay is counting on growth at its PayPal payments system and jump-starting its lagging core business.

Moody’s Bottom (Restaurant and Retail) Rung

bcbgMoody’s on Tuesday published its “U.S. Bottom Rung,” a list of companies that the corporate credit ratings agency thinks are at the most risk of defaulting on their debt. There are 283 companies on the list, which is current as of March 1, including the names of some beloved restaurants, retailers and food companies.

Why do this? The Wall Street Journal offers some possibilities:

“Sounds like Moody’s may be trying to get out in front on defaults, given they were perhaps a little behind on subprime mortgages and commercial mortgage-backed securities,” said David Resnick, managing director at investment banking firm Rothschild Inc. which works on many corporate bankruptcies and restructurings.

No tug-of-war between grocers and food makers-Kroger CEO


krogerkidsCosts for ingredients like rice, wheat and oil are falling, so why are prices for breakfast cereals like Rice Krispies and Special K still rising?

If you want an answer to this question, you aren’t the only one.

Food companies like Kellogg Co, which makes the products mentioned above, say the higher prices are justified because while commodity price inflation has eased amid a global economic downturn, commodity prices remain well above historical averages.

Whole Foods selling 13 stores in settlement


wholefoodsflag1Natural and organic food grocer Whole Foods will sell 13 stores as part of a settlement that ends an antitrust battle with U.S. regulators over its acquisition of rival Wild Oats.

Is your store on the list?  

    7133 N. Oracle Rd., Tucson, AZ 8688 E. Raintree Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 2584 Baseline Rd., Boulder, CO         1651 Broadway St., Boulder, CO         3180 New Center Pt., Colorado Springs, CO   5910 S. University Blvd., Littleton, CO 9229 N Sheridan Blvd., Westminster, CO 340 N. Main St., West Hartford, CT   4301 Main St., Kansas City, MO 1090 St. Francis Dr., Santa Fe, NM          7250 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 19440 N.W. Cornell Rd., Hillsboro, OR 6930 S. Highland Dr., Salt Lake City, UT

(Photo\Mike Blake, Reuters)

Hansen selling beauty in a can



By Shivani Singh

Hansen Natural, the maker of Monster energy drinks and caffeine-free sodas, is betting that woman will splurge on its new ”Self Beauty Elixir.”

As the stress of rising unemployment and falling home prices take their toll, the drink maker believes that members of the fairer sex will seek refuge in the 35-calorie drink that comes in exotic flavors like Blushing Berry, Pink Lemonade and Tropical Bliss.

Check Out Line: Wal-Mart Wins


samsclubCheck out the benefit of lower fuel prices on consumer spending.

Wal-Mart Stores continues to stand out as consumers go for bargains in the recession. The top retailer led other chains with a better-than-expected 5.1 percent rise in sales at stores open at least a year in February, and announced it was boosting its dividend.

Relief from high gasoline prices is giving consumers more money to spend on discretionary items, Wal-Mart said.

Check Out Line: Value in Vogue


COSTCO/Check out mixed news from discount retailers.Warehouse clubs turned in a diverging earnings performance on Wednesday but overall results still showed the strength of this business model as consumers search for bargains.No. 1 U.S. warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale reported a lower profit as non-food sales weakened, but smaller rival BJ’s Wholesale eked out an earnings gain.As both retailers look to preserve and grow their business, that could bode even better for cost-conscious customers.Costco has said it will cut prices to keep shoppers, while BJ’s said one of its top priorities this year is to gain market share.Close-out chain Big Lots also posted profit that topped Wall Street forecasts – and investors eagerly snapped up its shares.Also in the basket:Liz Claiborne outlook weak More mortgage borrowers are ‘underwater’Kindle access from iPhone(Photo: Reuters)