In the papers this week 30 May – 5 June 2009

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Spar Ireland expands own label lines; Olhausen sausages in talks with the banks; M&S' Stuart Rose' salary increases nearly 30%



5 June 2009

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Convenience chain Spar is expanding its cheaper own-brand product line to compete with similar initiatives by other retailers, the Sunday Business Post reports.

This week saw the introduction of 30 new items, from beauty to biscuits, and by the end of the year Spar will carry over 260 of its own-brand products.The past year saw an increase of up to 60% of Spar-labeled goods, which they attribute to a growing consumer consciousness of price.

Meanwhile, Superquinn continues its foray into own-branding with a new addition to the wine selection, called Classic Collection

According to the Sunday Business Post, after narrowing down the selection from nearly 2000 French wines, tasters selected the five that currently make up the line.  Superquinn intends to broaden the selection with Australian and Chilean options sometime soon.

Also in the Sunday Business Post, Irish sausage company Olhausen is negotiating with its banks to stay afloat after last year’s ‘significant loss.’

This came to light during the company’s legal struggle with former employees seeking redundancy payment. Olhausen says that cost-cutting plans have been made in the past and now have been implemented again, this time working closely with the banks.

The Irish Examiner reports that Marks & Spencer’s top executive Stuart Rose’s net pay package increased nearly 30% over the last year, despite M&S’ profit drop of 40%.

His salary remains frozen and without bonuses, but he received an extra £288,000, the three-year accumulation of group shares. Rose also stands to make four times his salary with shares he obtained last year. Meanwhile, backlash is expected from those with shares in M&S, which has suffered a 20% drop in the last month.

Mars UK has shrunk its eponymous Mars bar by more than 7% but prices were not dropped and consumers were not officially informed, according to the Daily Mail (UK). At first the company claimed it reduced the size to battle obesity but it has since also attributed the change to cost increases. Although some consumer groups predict backlash, Mars UK insists that it has made its bar healthier without raising prices.

The Irish Times warns about the enormous deforestation caused by plantations for profitable palm oil. The ingredient is used increasingly in foods and household products because its harvests can produce nearly six times as much as other oils, making it remarkably efficient. First, however, forests in southeast Asia are being cleared to make room for palm oil plots, creating immense CO2 emissions.

Morrison’s, the UK supermarket chain, has reported a 7.3 per cent increase in sales for the first quarter, according to the Irish Examiner. They attribute this to drastically reduced prices, part of their ‘Price Crunch’ initiative, which they say had a weekly draw of 50,000 new customers more than usual.

India has been one of Cadbury’s best markets in the past few years, making it the desired destination for new cocoa plantations, reports the Financial Times.  Because cocoa trees grow alongside coconut trees, the natural forests of southern India beckon Cadbury as the ideal domestic location to eliminate cocoa importation by 2015.  One challenge they run into, however, is the lack of cultural enthusiasm for chocolate in India.

Mitsubishi, although better known for their automobiles, are the leading importers of the endangered bluefin tuna, according to the Independent. A new documentary claims that Mitsubishi is monopolizing the bluefin market and freezing the fish so as to capitalize on their profitable rarity when they do become extinct. The company confirms that they do freeze the bluefin, but claims it is only to keep a year-long stock for a seasonal fish.

A survey by the Quickservice Food Alliance notes that hourly cutbacks in the industry has reached the equivalent of 1,400 jobs lost, says the Sunday Business Post. The cuts have been made to save money during a time when demand has decreased and supply has grown more expensive. In response, QFA, who represents these food-to-go businesses, points to the discrepancy between employee wages and hours as the issue.

Carlsberg has achieved great success in Russia, but because of the nation’s political and financial instability the company is now looking toward Asia for a more dependable market, reports the Financial Times. By increasing exposure in an untapped area, the Danish brewer is optimistic that it can both counteract Russia’s changeability as well as make profit while Europe’s economy recovers.

The 600 UK branches of Marks & Spencer are teaming up with Shanks, the European waste management company, to recycle its excess or past-due food. This joint operation coincides with M&S’s ‘Plan A’, the initiative to become an extensively environmentally-friendly company by 2010. Rather than being sent to landfills, Shanks will process the food into farming fertilizer and biofuel.



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