Taking Stock

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‘Round The Trade

Good news for our friends at Burris Logistics, the large family-owned provider of public refrigerated warehousing and freight consolidation services. The Milford, DE-based logistics firm earlier this month announced that it has successfully completed the purchase of a 55-acre property in McDonough, GA (33 miles south of Atlanta) and will soon begin construction of a 250,000 square foot, public refrigerated warehouse (PRW) with 28,000 pallet positions, and an attached office on the property. The facility will create more than 75 local jobs for Phase I when construction is completed in January 2018. The Georgia warehouse will allow the company to further enhance a growing network of refrigerated warehouses, strengthening customer service. “Burris continues to evolve to meet the needs of our current and potential clients,” said Donnie Burris, company CEO. “Our expansion into the Greater Atlanta region highlights the growth, popularity and diversification we are experiencing throughout our entire operation. We are selected for our commitment to service, leading-edge technology and solid core values. We welcome new and expanded relationships.”…private equity firms Leonard Green and Partners and CVC Capital Partners, which own club operator BJ’s, are reportedly looking for a way to unload the investment they acquired in 2011 for $2.8 billion. Given that six years is within the framework of a PE “dump” this potential move shouldn’t be surprising. Certainly the inroads that Amazon and now Wal-Mart have made against all club operators offer another potential reason for BJ’s to find a new home, too. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Natick, MA-based merchant is looking at either a sale or a possible IPO. BJ’s, which operates 213 units primarily on the East Coast (and Ohio), was a publicly-traded enterprise before its purchase by Green and CVC…Aldi said it will spend $1.6 billion to remodel its 1,300 U.S. stores. Aldi’s new redesigned model, which now exists in about 300 units, features wider aisles, raised ceilings, sleeker refrigerated doors and windows and more natural lighting. The new store design adds about 20 percent more floor space (to about 20,000 square feet) and an expanded perishables presence…it looks like Stop & Shop is attempting to enter the apartment building business. In a filing with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the biggest division of Ahold USA is seeking permission to redevelop its existing store at 60 Everett Street in the Allston section of the city. As part of a broader plan, called Allston Yards, Stoppie would also build 1,010 residential units (apartments) and offer office space and ground floor retail and restaurant space. “Stop & Shop has been proud to call Boston our home for over a century and we believe that Allston Yards project represents a terrific opportunity for us to better serve the neighborhood and community,” said the talented Mark McGowan, president of Stoppie…if Whole Foods Markets is banking on its trendy “365” concept as a growth portal, don’t count me as a fan. I was finally able to visit my first “365” store while recently in Los Angeles and I wasn’t too impressed. The good news was that pricing is much more aggressive than traditional WFM units and the perishables departments are solid, not spectacular. But the overall store layout, lighting and merchandising I thought were subpar. I may be wrong, but I found it hard to imagine that this format would translate well nationally…according to the New York Post, in an effort to trim operational costs after its emergence from bankruptcy last July, Fairway Market is considering selling the prepared foods commissary and bakery distribution center in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx which opened in 2010. The “like no other market” merchant, which debuted its first new store in nearly three years in Brooklyn last month, is now controlled by PE firm GSO Capital Partners, an arm of the Blackstone Group…Brazilian PE firm 3G – owner of Kraft Heinz – whose appetite for growth is almost as aggressive as its broad cost-cutting measures, is dropping its efforts to acquire Unilever. The Dutch manufacturing giant already had already rejected 3G’s $143 billion bid and offered this explanation: “Kraft Heinz had the utmost respect for the culture, strategy and leadership of Unilever.” Sounds like a “face saving” exercise from the private equity firm to avoid potential litigious and costly battle, one that 3G would likely lose…the first new ShopRite corporate store (SRS) under the helm of Brett Wing (who was named president of ShopRite Supermarkets in January) will open in North Greenbush, NY (Rennselaer County) later this year. The 55,000 square foot store will be SRS’ fourth Albany area location. The corporate store arm of Wakefern Corp. currently operates 34 supermarkets overall. More Wakefern news: at this year’s FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, chairman and CEO Joe Colalillo was presented with the Robert B. Wegman award, which was given to the supermarket executive for “exercising entrepreneurial leadership in the design of retail strategies and imaginative merchandising.” This honor is much deserved because Joe’s vision and leadership skills are unparalleled in an industry with so much talent. Plus, he’s one of the really good guys in the entire grocery biz.