The Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) announced new online platform for the supermarket industry

Center for Advancing Retail & Technology and National Grocers Association create unique platform to help retailers and brands keep pace with rapid technology innovation

Arlington, VA, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — The Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) today announced a new online platform for the supermarket industry. The CART marketplace advancingretail.org is designed to help the supermarket sector keep pace with technology innovation that is rapidly transforming the way people shop.

“Retailers and brand manufacturers are experiencing information overload as they seek to stay informed of the rapidly growing number of innovative solutions coming into the market. CART’s platform is designed to help retailers and brands discover, evaluate, and engage new technologies. There is nothing else like it available in the retail industry today,” says Gary Hawkins, CEO of CART.

The marketplace is a free resource for retailers, providing a place to discover new solutions, to learn from available white papers and case studies, and obtain guidance in the form of ratings and reviews provided by fellow retailers. Additionally, solution providers are able to benefit from efficient access to the sizable supermarket industry, particularly the thousands of stores encompassing the independent and mid-market sector. Solution providers can also avail themselves of guidance provided by the CART team who have extensive retail and technology innovation experience.

In addition to serving retailers and solution providers, CART provides research services to consumer goods brand manufacturers. Operating retail stores participating in CART’s network serve as ‘live learning labs’ where CPG brands can test in-store merchandising innovation along with piloting new shopper-facing technologies. ‘Live learning lab’ environments are designed to provide deep insight to real shopper behavior using the latest research tools, including mobile analytics.

Understanding the importance of access to technology and innovation to independent retailers, CART has established a relationship with National Grocers Association. NGA is the preeminent trade association focused on serving the independent supermarket sector. CART powers up the NGA SolutionCenter (available solutions), ResourceCenter (case studies, articles, etc.), and the InnovationCenter (new innovations coming into the retail industry).

“Given the importance of technology to retail we are excited to help bring the new CART marketplace to independent grocers, and provide our members with resources and information on how to integrate the latest technology techniques into their business strategies,” said Peter J. Larkin, President and CEO of NGA.

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Wegmans Food Markets to deliver more than 18,000 pounds of non-perishable food to the Cluster Outreach Center of the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC)

POTTSTOWN, PA, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — Wegmans Food Markets will deliver more than 18,000 pounds of non-perishable food to the Cluster Outreach Center of the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC) on September 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. This generous donation will provide food support to help Pottstown residents in need of food assistance. Wegmans remains a key contributor to PCRC’s mission, providing generous in-kind and monetary donations. Because of Wegmans’ generosity, the Cluster Outreach Center continues to successfully provide food assistance to community residents.

“Hundreds of our clients will benefit from the generosity of Wegmans’ donation of a tractor trailer of food. We are excited to have them partner with us in helping those in need in Pottstown.” said Sherrie Fazekas, PCRC’s Food Service Manager.

“We recognize that PCRC relies on donations to serve an increasing number of families in our community,” said Wegmans Collegeville Store Manager Steve Aloi. “Feeding the hungry is one of our most important giving priorities and we work closely with food pantries to understand their needs and determine the best way to help make a difference.”

The donation includes 20 pallets of canned goods, cereals, snacks, assorted beverages, condiments, baking mixes and other ingredients. When the Wegmans tractor-trailer arrives at PCRC, Wegmans Service Area Manager Matt Poole will be on hand along with a team of employees from the Collegeville store to help unload the truck.

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PCRC is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, working through interfaith cooperation, to address the basic human needs of persons within the Greater Pottstown community, while assisting with their spiritual and social needs. Their programs and referrals are coordinated to help individuals make real progress in moving from dependence to productive self-sufficiency. In the first six months of 2014, PCRC’s Emergency Food Pantry distributed 308,234 pounds of food to 8,666 individuals and served 9,900 meals through the Community Meals Program. More information about PCRC and their programs can be found at www.pottstowncluster.org.

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is an 84-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 17 consecutive years. In 2014, Wegmans ranked #12 on the list. Last year Wegmans donated more than 16.5 million pounds of food to area food banks in all of its market areas.

Contact Information:

Barbara Wilhelmy, LCSW, Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities’ executive director, 610-970-5995
Jo Natale, Wegmans’ director of media relations, 585-429-3627

J. C. Penney upsized and priced its underwritten public offering of $400 million aggregate principal amount of 8.125% senior unsecured notes due 2019

PLANO, Texas, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (the “Company”) (NYSE: JCP) announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, J. C. Penney Corporation, Inc. (together with the Company, “J. C. Penney”), has upsized and priced its underwritten public offering of $400 million aggregate principal amount of 8.125% senior unsecured notes due 2019, for which the Company will be a co-obligor (the “Notes”). The size of the offering was increased from the previously announced $350 million. The Notes were priced at 100% of face amount for a yield to maturity of 8.125%. The offering is expected to close on or about September 15, 2014, subject to market and other conditions. J. C. Penney intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the Notes to pay the tender consideration and related transaction fees and expenses for J. C. Penney’s contemporaneous tender offers to purchase for cash up to $300 million aggregate principal amount of its outstanding 6.875% Medium-Term Notes due 2015, 7.65% Debentures due 2016 and 7.95% Debentures due 2017 (collectively, the “Tender Securities”). J. C. Penney intends to use any remaining net proceeds for general corporate purposes, which may include further purchasing or otherwise retiring a portion of its existing indebtedness.

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Barclays Capital Inc. and Goldman, Sachs & Co. are acting as joint book running managers for the offering. To obtain a copy of the filed prospectus and prospectus supplement for this offering, please contact J.P. Morgan Securities LLC at 383 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10179, Attn: J.P. Morgan Syndicate Desk or (212) 834-4533, Barclays Capital Inc. at c/o Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY 11717, (888) 603-5847 or barclaysprospectus@broadridge.com or Goldman, Sachs & Co. at 200 West Street, New York, NY 10282, Attn: Prospectus Department, (866) 471-2526 or prospectus-ny@ny.email.gs.com.

This press release does not constitute an offer to purchase or the solicitation of an offer to sell any Tender Securities, which offers are being made only by means of the offer to purchase and related documents with respect thereto.

Media Relations:
(972) 431-3400 or jcpnews@jcp.com

Investor Relations:
(972) 431-5500 or jcpinvestorrelations@jcpenney.com

About JCPenney:
J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP), one of the nation’s largest apparel and home furnishing retailers, is dedicated to fitting the diversity of America with unparalleled style, quality and value. Across approximately 1,060 stores and at jcpenney.com, customers will discover a broad assortment of national, private and exclusive brands to fit all shapes, sizes, colors and wallets. For more information, please visit jcpenney.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements which reflect the Company’s current view of future events and financial performance. Words such as “expect” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, which include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the offering and the anticipated use of proceeds from the offering. Forward-looking statements are based only on the Company’s current assumptions and views of future events and financial performance. They are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside of the Company’s control, that may cause the Company’s actual results to be materially different from planned or expected results. Those risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, general economic conditions, including inflation, recession, unemployment levels, consumer confidence and spending patterns, credit availability and debt levels, changes in store traffic trends, the cost of goods, more stringent or costly payment terms and/or the decision by a significant number of vendors not to sell the Company merchandise on a timely basis or at all, trade restrictions, the ability to monetize non-core assets on acceptable terms, the ability to implement J. C. Penney’s turnaround strategy, customer acceptance of the Company’s new strategies, the Company’s ability to attract, motivate and retain key executives and other associates, the impact of cost reduction initiatives, the Company’s ability to generate or maintain liquidity, implementation of new systems and platforms, changes in tariff, freight and shipping rates, changes in the cost of fuel and other energy and transportation costs, increases in wage and benefit costs, competition and retail industry consolidations, interest rate fluctuations, dollar and other currency valuations, the impact of weather conditions, risks associated with war, an act of terrorism or pandemic, the ability of the federal government to fund and conduct its operations, a systems failure and/or security breach that results in the theft, transfer or unauthorized disclosure of customer, employee or company information, legal and regulatory proceedings and the Company’s ability to access the debt or equity markets on favorable terms or at all. There can be no assurances that the Company will achieve expected results, and actual results may be materially less than expectations. While the Company believes that its assumptions are reasonable, the Company cautions that it is impossible to predict the degree to which any such factors could cause actual results to differ materially from predicted results. The Company intends the forward-looking statements in this press release to speak only as of the date of this press release and does not undertake to update or revise these forward-looking statements as more information becomes available.

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Whole Foods Market launches Wine Club by Whole Foods Market on Oct. 1

Company’s wine experts take guess work out of wine shopping and gifting with limited production, hand-selected bottles

AUSTIN, Texas, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM), the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket, is launching Wine Club by Whole Foods Market on Oct. 1, to bring extraordinary, one-of-a-kind wines from around the world directly to wine lovers’ homes.

Whole Foods Market has partnered with wine.com to offer Wine Club members four shipments of six bottles each a year at the price of $125 per shipment, including shipping costs. Additional shipping charges may apply for shipments to Alaska and Hawaii. The exquisite wines, which epitomize variety and regional nuance, are hand-selected by Whole Foods Market’s wine experts, Doug Bell, global beverage buyer, and Devon Broglie, associate global beverage buyer and Master Sommelier, who have over 50 years of experience between them in the wine industry.

“Whole Foods Market has had a long-standing commitment to offering high-quality wines to customers. We were the first national grocer to open wine bars in our stores and the first to serve wines from kegs in order to preserve freshness and encourage sustainability,” said Bell. “The Wine Club by Whole Foods Market marks another first for the company, and we see it as the next evolution to satisfy and delight our very passionate wine shoppers. And, we look forward to turning on potential new shoppers or enthusiasts who might not live near a Whole Foods Market to some delicious wines.”

Just in time for holidays, shoppers may select between one and four shipments for gift memberships and can choose the date they’d like the first shipment delivered. Ongoing subscribers will receive new shipments in February, May, September and November and will receive their first shipment within a week of signing up. To sign up to be notified when the Wine Club launches on Oct. 1, visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/wine-club.

The Wine Club by Whole Foods Market makes it easy and enjoyable to try limited production wines, from old favorites to new, more obscure varieties. Tasting notes for the wines in the first shipment are below.

• Santa Julia Magna 2011 (Argentina) – This elegant, well-balanced red blends cabernet sauvignon, malbec and bonarda and has rich blackberry and plum notes with dark chocolate and exotic spice. This is an excellent, robust blend with great depth.
• H&G Los Carneros Pinot Noir 2012 (California) – This true example of California pinot noir showcases dark cherries, crisp cranberries and vanilla with an attractive crisp acidity.
• Sea Pines Chardonnay 2013, Russian River Valley (California) — Subtle aromas belie big flavors of green apple, lemon and vanilla bean. A pleasant richness hints at the use of just the right amount of oak for a lovely balance.
• Ca’Selva Prosecco (Italy) — Beautifully fresh and flavorful, this bubbly is made from organically grown grapes. Pale straw yellow with greenish highlights and an elegant, long-lingering foam, this wine has aromas of apples and peaches and is refreshingly fruit-forward with a hint of tartness.
• Chateau Boissezon-Guiraud St. Chinian 2012 (France) – Juicy without being over-ripe, this rich, luscious Languedoc red has a fine complexity on the nose with notes of violet, anise and aromatic Mediterranean herbs.
• Chateau Fonfroide Bordeaux Rouge 2012 (France) — Merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and malbec join together to create a nose that is intense and expressive, offering berry and spices scents, with blackcurrant, currant and vanilla notes. On the palate, the wine is well structured, with supple and silky tannins.

Visit wholefoodsmarket.com/wineclub to learn more.

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Whole Foods Market launches Wine Club by Whole Foods Market on Oct. 1

Whole Foods Market launches Wine Club by Whole Foods Market on Oct. 1

Ivanka Trump to help fight breast cancer through her involvement with QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale”

American Businesswoman, Writer and Television Personality Appears in Public Service Announcements for QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale”

WEST CHESTER, Pa., 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — When it comes to a great pair of shoes, Ivanka Trump is an expert. As a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, she knows that power shoes can help a woman feel like she is ready to conquer the world. This year, Trump is digging in her heels to help fight breast cancer through her involvement with QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale.”

A charitable collaboration between QVC and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY), QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale” has generated more than $44 million to date. During the month of October, donated shoes from over 80 brands will be offered at amazing prices to benefit breast cancer research and education. The event is scheduled to air live on QVC Thursday, October 16 from 6 PM to 9 PM (ET), and Trump has taken a step out of the boardroom to appear in both print and television public service announcements supporting the cause.

“I am honored to be part of this important initiative, and I find it incredibly rewarding to help women come together for this significant reason, through something we all love…shoes,” commented Trump. “Breast cancer, unfortunately, impacts so many lives, but it is liberating and comforting to know that we can help fight back and tackle it one step at a time.”

During the three-hour broadcast event, shoppers can choose from more than 200 styles being offered at HALF the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.* In addition, each weekday from 7 AM to 9 AM (ET) during the month of October, buyers can shop the Shoe of the Day on air, online or on the QVC apps. A minimum of 80 percent of the purchase price** will benefit various breast cancer research and education institutions. Select styles from the Ivanka Trump footwear collection are scheduled to be included in the assortment.

“Ms. Trump’s dedication and enthusiasm both inside and outside of the boardroom are outstanding,” said Ron Fromm, FFANY’s president and CEO. “We are thrilled to have her as our spokesperson and know that she will help draw people to the cause.”

“In addition to success in both the business and fashion worlds, Ivanka’s philanthropic spirit is admirable,” said Mike George, president and CEO of QVC. “As someone who routinely gives back through various charities, she brings a unique perspective to this year’s event. I think her passion will be contagious, allowing shoppers to feel even more empowered by their purchases knowing that they can help make a difference.”

Beneficiaries for the 2014 QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale” event include: The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Oncology Program, The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, and The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Breast Cancer Research Program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Those wishing to support cutting-edge research at these organizations can go to www.ffany.org to make contributions and find out ways to join in and be part of this important effort.

*The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is based on supplier’s representation of value. No sales may have been made at this price.

**Purchase price excludes shipping, handling and tax.

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About QVC
QVC, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation (NASDAQ: LINTA, LINTB), is the world’s leading video and ecommerce retailer. QVC is committed to providing its customers with thousands of the most innovative and contemporary beauty, fashion, jewelry and home products. Its programming is distributed to approximately 300 million homes worldwide through operations in the U.S., Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and a joint venture in China. West Chester, Pa.-based QVC has shipped more than a billion packages in its 27-year history and the company’s website, QVC.com, is ranked among the top general merchant Internet sites. QVC, Q, and the Q Ribbon Logo are registered service marks of ER Marks, Inc.

About the Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation
The Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation was created to support ongoing research and education programs in the fight against breast cancer and is supported by members of the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY). Donated footwear is sold on live television through QVC during the Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation’s annual charity benefit, QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale.” Funds are distributed to leading breast cancer research and education institutions across the United States, including beneficiaries for the 2014 event: The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Oncology Program, The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Breast Cancer Research Program at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. The Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation makes its home at 274 Madison Avenue, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10016, www.FFANY.org.

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Commissary and Navy Exchange complex opens at Annapolis, Md.

FORT LEE, Va., 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — The Sept. 10 grand opening of the Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Md., Commissary and Navy Exchange complex got rave reviews from shoppers who got their first look inside the new facility.

“It’s worth the trip and more!” said long time shopper Gretchen McKethan as she pushed her cart in the commissary meat department. “I just like the whole atmosphere, and there are a lot of things they didn’t have in the old store.”

McKethan’s remarks mirrored what NSA Annapolis commander, Capt. Logan Jones, told the large audience gathered outside the store for the 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. “When you step inside these stores today it’s going to blow your socks off,” said Jones, who joined Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu and Navy Exchange Service Command CEO Robert J. Bianchi as speakers for the ceremony.

The shopping center was built using funds generated from commissary and Navy Exchange sales. For the $16 million commissary, funding came from the surcharge account. The 5 percent surcharge is added to every commissary shopper’s grocery bill, and the money is used to pay for construction and renovation of commissary facilities.

The new energy efficient and more environmentally friendly commissary is twice as large as the one it replaces, a facility that had been in operation side-by-side with the Navy Exchange since 1979. Shoppers quickly noticed how the new store’s higher ceilings and wider aisles gave it a more expansive feel. Also new to them were an international delicatessen and bakery, sushi-to-go and rotisserie chicken.

“This is a dramatic improvement,” said Natasha Sealey, who was just getting started shopping in the fresh produce department. “The produce looks so nice and fresh, and we have a bakery and sushi, which is great.”

Store Director Jim Marino noted after the ceremony that he and his staff are just as excited about working in the new store as customers are of shopping there. “It took a lot of effort, planning and work from a lot of folks and now it’s our job to provide great customer service in this fine facility,” said Marino. “This day is special for me because I entered the Navy on Sept. 10, 1973, and I worked in commissaries some while in the military, and here we are, on this day, opening a new store to provide a commissary benefit that’s worth the trip.”

NOTE: For photos and video of the NSA Annapolis Commissary and Navy Exchange complex grand opening, go to our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

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Hy-Vee, Iowa Department of Public Health and Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries to help educate Iowa’s elderly on ways to prevent falls and injury during National Falls Prevention Awareness Month

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — Hy-Vee, Inc., the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries have partnered to help educate Iowa’s elderly about ways they can prevent falls and injury during National Falls Prevention Awareness Month in September.

The seventh annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed on Sept. 23, the first day of fall. This year’s theme, Strong Today, Falls Free® Tomorrow, seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. Nearly 500,000 people over the age of 65 live in Iowa.

Hy-Vee, IDPH and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries hope to keep Iowa’s older population strong and falls-free by providing education and resources through several avenues — pharmacies, websites, social media and a Sept. 17 webinar — during the awareness month.

In September, when senior citizens fulfill their prescriptions at a Hy-Vee Pharmacy in Iowa, they will see educational information in their prescription bags.

“Our pharmacy staff often witness and help treat the aftermath of a fall, but this initiative enables us to bring awareness to the role we can play in prevention,” said Andy McCann, executive vice president and chief health officer of Hy-Vee. “We encourage our customers to review their prescription and non-prescription medications with us, as this is one of the main preventive measures our elderly can take.”

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 years of age and over, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Every 14 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. And the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age, the NCOA’s website says.

“Older Iowans in our communities had 29,590 fall-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations in 2012. These fall-related injuries resulted in 429 fatalities and approximately $135 million in hospitalization charges,” said Maggie Ferguson, IDPH brain injury and disability program manager. “We can change this by bringing greater attention to the many preventive measures that can be easily employed to keep our seniors safe.”

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Falls Prevention Awareness Month promotional materials will encourage Iowa’s elderly adults to take the following steps:

  • Review all their prescription and non-prescription medicines with their doctor and pharmacist.
  • Talk to their health care provider about their risk of falling.
  • Have their vision checked at least once a year.
  • Talk to their family about their concerns.
  • Exercise to improve their strength and balance.
  • Make their home safer by removing things they can trip over.

“We thank the Iowa Department of Public Health and Hy-Vee for helping us to bring awareness to this issue. I have personally witnessed how injuries resulting from a fall can steal the quality of life from seniors and their families,” said W. Dave Johnson, a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injuries.

On Sept. 17 at 11 a.m., the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition will host a webinar titled “Aging, Fall Risk and Prevention Through Exercise.” To register for the webinar, visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/760561400.

For more information about falls prevention, visit a local Hy-Vee Pharmacy; the IDPH Falls Prevention website at www.idph.state.ia.us/FallPrevention; or the NCOA website at www.ncoa.org/improve-health/falls-prevention.

Starbucks to bring customers on journey of discovery with three new single-origin coffees in U.S. grocery stores

SEATTLE, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — At Starbucks coffee purchasing center in Lausanne, Switzerland, green coffee traders Alfredo Nuño and Stephane Erard taste thousands of cups of coffee each year. They have each been purchasing coffee for Starbucks for more than a decade, and their expert palates detect subtle differences in quality, flavor, body and acidity as they decide which coffees to bring to Starbucks customers.

“Each coffee conveys different attributes depending on where it is grown,” Nuño said. “Coffees from Latin America are known for their balanced body and crisp acidity; Asia Pacific coffees are often full-bodied and earthy; and coffees from Africa can be lush and juicy. But even within these regions – variables such as the soil, altitude, weather, processing method, and even nearby crops – imprint each coffee with its own unique signature.”

Single-origin coffees – beans sourced from one country, a region within a country, or sometimes even just a single estate or farm – offer customers an opportunity to explore distinctive coffees from around the world. It’s what a French vintner would call goût de terroir, or “taste of the earth.”

Nuño and Erard work closely with Patty Romaine-Moody, a Starbucks coffee quality specialist based in Seattle, who – like a winemaker – helps source, blend and craft the coffees.

This year the team was challenged by Starbucks Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) team to identify extraordinary new single-origin coffees that customers could enjoy at home. They settled on coffees from each of the three major growing regions that would showcase the unique sense of place for each.

Starting in mid-September, Starbucks will bring customers on a journey of discovery with three new single-origin coffees in U.S. grocery stores.

Starbucks® Guatemala Laguna de Ayarza Single-Origin Coffee

Starbucks has been purchasing coffee from Guatemala since the early days of the company, and has been sourcing coffee from the Santa Rosa region of Guatemala for more than a decade.

Nuño, who manages Starbucks coffee purchases for Central America and the Caribbean, remembers a time about three years ago when he discovered some exceptional coffee from the region in the trading room.

“It was citrusy and sweet, with soft acidity,” he said. “When we looked back at the data, we realized it was consistently coming from Laguna de Ayarza.”

Laguna de Ayarza is a double caldera lake formed thousands of years ago in a volcanic mountain range in the northeast part of Guatemala. The coffee trees thrive in the rolling hills and mild climate, and roots grow deep in its volcanic soil rich in minerals.

“In the morning here, there’s a mist in the mountains. It helps the plants retain the moisture and mature more slowly,” Nuño said. “It also helps the coffee deepen its complex flavors.”

“This coffee is medium-bodied and rich,” Romaine-Moody added. “It’s balanced with crisp citrus notes and a sweet, chocolaty mouthfeel. Coffee from Laguna de Ayarza has softer acidity and round chocolate notes, while coffee sourced from other regions in Guatemala display higher acidity and cocoa notes.”

Starbucks® Rwanda Rift Valley Single-Origin Coffee

Stephane Erard purchases coffee for Starbucks from the Africa and Asia Pacific growing regions. In Rwanda, he singled out an elegant coffee from the hills of Rift Valley region.

“Rwanda is just two degrees south of the equator and its coffee flourishes in the red, nutrient-rich volcanic soil,” he said. “It produces sweet, delicate flavors with spicy dark-chocolate notes and hints of citrus.”

Rwanda has had a long tradition of coffee growing that dates back to the early 1900s. Many of the coffee plants in Rwanda today are the same fragrant bourbon varieties that were introduced by German missionaries more than a century ago.

But  until recently, Starbucks was unable to find much high-quality coffee in Rwanda despite the widespread bourbon variety. The problem was individual growers washed coffee by hand without regard to the end product’s quality. Over the past several years, the country has established washing stations and made great strides in transforming its coffee production.

“Rwanda’s coffee industry is reaching a mature point where we have a stable quality of high-end coffee that we’re delighted to bring it to our customers,” he said.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to offer our customers a single-origin coffee from Rwanda in grocery stores,” said Romaine-Moody. “We love the elegant flavor it delivers in the cup and the promising future it brings to Rwanda’s premium-coffee growers.”

Starbucks® Timor Mount Ramelau Single-Origin Coffee

More than 6,000 miles east of Africa, just north of Australia and across the Timor Sea, is Timor-Leste, the official name of East Timor.

Starbucks has been buying coffee from Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) since 1996, a cooperative organization of coffee farmers in East Timor that produces and exports the premium coffee. Starbucks has not only helped them improve the quality of their coffee but has also supported a number of social projects.

The highest point in the country is Mount Ramelau, a mountain of nearly 10,000 feet also known as Tatamailau meaning “grandfather of all” where the earth is well nourished and the weather is perfectly temperate.

“Farmers near Mount Ramelau cultivate the coffee on small pieces of land – often in their backyards,” Erard said. “Only the ripest cherries are selected for processing, resulting in a smooth, refined cup.”

“Coffee sourced from Timor Mount Ramelau has a distinctive flavor profile. Most coffees from Asia Pacific are full-bodied with earthy, herbal flavors, however this coffee is displays clean, spicy notes and a medium-body,” explained Romaine-Moody. “There are very few single-origin coffees from Timor available on grocery store shelves, so we’re excited to offer this unique “taste of place” to our customers.”

About Starbucks® Single-Origin Coffees in Grocery Stores

Starting in mid-September, Guatemala Laguna de Ayarza, Rwanda Rift Valley and Timor Mount Ramelau will be available exclusively where groceries are sold in the United States. All three premium coffees will be offered nationally for a suggested retail price of $11.99 for a package of 10-ounce ground coffee. Guatemala Laguna de Ayarza and Rwanda Rift Valley will also be offered as K-Cup® Packs: $11.99 for 10-count and $14.99 for 16-count packages.

K-Cup® packs for use in Keurig® K-Cup® brewing systems. Keurig, the Cup and Star Design, Keurig Brewed, K-Cup and the Keurig brewer trade dress are trademarks of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., used with permission.

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom.

Carrefour Romania opened its 26th Carrefour hypermarket at Vulcan Value Centre in Bucharest

BUCHAREST, Romania, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — On 4 September, Carrefour Romania opened its 26th Carrefour hypermarket at the Vulcan Value Centre, a new shopping centre in Bucharest.

With a sales area of 7500 m², 320 people have been recruited to work at the Carrefour hypermarket. It is open to customers seven days a week from 7:30 AM to 10 PM and has more than 50,000 products. Bread, pastries, confectionery, ready-meals, pizzas and freshly-cooked meats are all prepared on-site by Carrefour teams.

Carrefour is the leading retailer in Romania, and Carrefour Romania is continuing to expand, underpinning its growth by 3 mainstays: low prices, a modern design and motivated employees who are attentive to customers’ needs.

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Carrefour Romania opened its 26th Carrefour hypermarket at Vulcan Value Centre in Bucharest

Carrefour Romania opened its 26th Carrefour hypermarket at Vulcan Value Centre in Bucharest

Carrefour France launches new range of comfortable and fashionable uniforms for its in-store staff

PARIS, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — Carrefour France is launching a range of new comfortable and fashionable uniforms for its in-store staff. To fit out those of its employees who work in food-related jobs, it has entered into a significant partnership with Brittany-based company Armor-Lux.

Carrefour attaches a great deal of importance to the comfort and well-being of its employees and so is updating all of its uniforms
Carrefour plans to equip the 92,000 employees working at its Carrefour and Carrefour Market stores with new uniforms that are more modern, more aesthetic and more fashionable. The new line of clothing features 12 to 16 pieces on average per employee, with different versions depending on job function and season.

Uniforms for employees in food-related positions: an important partnership with Armox-Lux, a highly symbolic company
Carrefour made the decision to join forces with Armor-Lux to create the uniforms to be worn by those of its employees in food-related positions, thus providing a reminder of its commitment to the local economy and proximity.

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Carrefour France launches new range of comfortable and fashionable uniforms for its in-store staff

Carrefour France launches new range of comfortable and fashionable uniforms for its in-store staff

Walmart releases 2014 Chosen by Kids Top 20 Toys List

Crafty Toys, Ride Ons and Hot Licenses Join Classics, Electronic Toys on Retailer’s Second Annual Holiday Toy List Chosen by Kids

BENTONVILLE, Ark., 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — Kids’ tastes in toys are changing, but their appetite for imagination and creativity is unwavering, as evidenced by Walmart’snewly-released 2014 Chosen by Kids Top 20 Toys List.

For the second year, Walmart turned to the real toy experts by gathering hundreds of kids, ages 18 months to 12 years and turning them loose on the hottest new toys from suppliers like Hasbro, Mattel, Spin Master and Zing. The retailer’s top 20 toy list, announced today, revealed kids are looking for toys that serve as an artistic outlet. Classics are also popular again this year with toymakers refreshing retro toys to appeal to today’s kids.

“The kids surprised us this year with their changing tastes in toys, but we were ready to react to their feedback,” said Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys at Walmart U.S. “When we saw specific trends emerge, we worked closely with our toy suppliers to make sure we were stocking our toy shelves and eCommerce distribution centers with the items kids really want this holiday season. Parents can trust that we’ll be ready with these kid-approved toys at great prices all season long.”

The picks from Walmart’s liveliest and loudest focus group of children unveiled the following toy trends:

Creativity, Crafts Rule This Season
Kids are looking for toys that allow them to be more creative. These types of toys are one of Walmart’s fastest-growing toy categories.

Big Licenses for Movie, TV Fans
Licensed toys from blockbusters like Disney’s Frozen and popular TV show Doc McStuffins topped kids’ list this year. Walmart has responded by adding extra inventory of these toys to meet anticipated demand.

Revving up with Ride-ons, Scooters and Racing Cars
Ride-ons and scooters were popular purchases last Christmas and throughout the year. Walmart added these toys to the kids’ focus group for the first time and one of those hot picks rose to the top of the list.

Electronic Toys Resonate with Kids, Again
On Walmart’s first Chosen by Kids toys list, electronic toys dominated. This year, kids were again drawn to electronic toys that offer interactive play.

Throwing Back to Classic Toys and Activities
Classic toys with a twist made kids’ top list for the second year. Parents will recognize many of the brands and types of toys kids chose.

Walmart’s Chosen by Kids Toy List Revealed Timed to Layaway Launch
Walmart’s free holiday layaway program is kicking off in stores Friday, Sept. 12 with an expanded list of eligible products including toys, entertainment items and sporting goods.

Starting now and throughout the holiday season, all of the top 20 toys will be covered under Walmart’s Savings Catcher online receipt comparison tool. If a top local competitor offers a lower advertised price on those or other eligible items, customers get the difference on a Walmart eGift Card.

Customers who prefer to shop online or on their mobile devices can get free delivery to more than 4,000 Walmart stores nationwide and directly to their door for select purchases.

For more information on Walmart’s Top Toy List Chosen by Kids, visit www.walmart.com/chosenbykids.

About Walmart 
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere — in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, more than 245 million customers and members visit our 11,053 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries and ecommerce websites in 11 countries. With fiscal year 2014 sales of over $473 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visitinghttp://corporate.walmart.com on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.  

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John Lewis Partnership plc reports unaudited condensed Interim Financial Statements for the half year ended 26 July 2014

LONDON, 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — Unaudited condensed Interim Financial Statements for the half year ended 26 July 2014
Strict Stock Exchange Embargo, 7.00am

Growing customer numbers drive sales in a changing market

Financial Summary

 

Waitrose John Lewis Partnership
£m Change £m Change £m Change
Gross sales 3,146 4.1% 1,865 9.4% 5,011 6.0%
LFL sales(1) 1.3% 8.2%
Revenue 2,967 4.2% 1,494 9.0% 4,461 5.7%
Operating profit before exceptional item(2)(3) 145.2 (9.4)% 56.3 62.2%(4) 176.1 8.6%
Operating profit(3) 176.1 53.3%
PBT before exceptional item(2)(3) 129.8 12.1%
PBT(3) 129.8 89.5%

1 Waitrose like-for-like sales excludes petrol
2  Exceptional charge of £47.3m last year following review of holiday pay policy
3 Includes property profits of £10.5m in Waitrose and £0.5m in Group (2013/14: nil)
4  Includes restructuring costs of £15.4m in 2013/14

Operational Highlights

Waitrose

  • Sales continued to outperform the industry, for the 62nd consecutive month(5); market share increased to 5%
  • Total online services gross sales of £161m, with online grocery gross sales up 54%
  • Operating profit impacted by substantial levels of investment across the business and the market(5) sales slowdown
  • 15 new branches opened, 11 more than in the same period last year
  • 670,000 more weekly customer transactions(6)
  • Membership of myWaitrose scheme up to 4.8 million

John Lewis

  • Sales growth and market share increases across all categories
  • Online sales of £552m, up 25.6% and now representing over 30% of merchandise sales; shop sales increased by 3.6%
  • Opened new full line flexible format shop in York and first airport shop in Heathrow Terminal 2
  • Customers and Partners celebrated 150th anniversary
  • First phase of second National Distribution Centre in Milton Keynes completed

(5) Source:Kantar
(6) Including myWaitrose benefits

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership, commented:
‘Partnership sales grew strongly at 6%, with Waitrose and John Lewis both outperforming their respective markets. Profit before tax and exceptionals is ahead of last year by 12%, but is broadly flat after excluding property profits.

Our sales growth was driven by more customers shopping with Waitrose and John Lewis, with customer numbers up by over 6% and 4% respectively. This reflects the growing appeal of our omni-channel offer across both brands, including the success of Click & Collect, which now accounts for more than half of John Lewis orders placed online, and the popularity of the myWaitrose and my John Lewis programmes, which are encouraging customers to shop more frequently with us across all of our channels.

Profit before tax and exceptional item, of £129.8m, is 12% ahead of last year, benefiting from property profits of £11m. Operating profits in John Lewis rose by 62% (£22m), offset by a decline in Waitrose operating profits of 9% (£15m). The strong profit performance in John Lewis reflects robust sales growth across all categories, especially in the higher margin ‘Home’ category, and good cost control across the business.  In Waitrose, profits were lower as a result of a much higher level of investment in new branches and accelerating the growth of the business through investment in Waitrose.com and the myWaitrose programme, as well as the challenging market conditions. However, Waitrose sales performance continued to be well ahead of the market.

Across the Partnership we continued to step up our level of investment in our systems and supply chain, with total capital investment almost doubling versus last year.

Our first half performance has been hard won. I want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of all Partners, our co-owners, in achieving these results through a period of significant change, including implementing new IT systems and adopting new ways of working.’

Outlook 2014/15
The outlook in the grocery sector remains challenging and we expect that to continue to be the case for some time. In contrast, trading conditions in the non-food sector are more positive than has been the case for several years.

Against this backdrop, we have had an encouraging start to the second half. For the first six weeks of the second half, Partnership gross sales are up 7.5%. Waitrose gross sales have increased by 5.2% (0.9% like-for-like, excluding petrol) and John Lewis gross sales are 11.3% higher than last year (9.7% like-for-like).

Looking ahead, as always, much will depend on Christmas trading, plans for which look excellent. While we expect the grocery sector to remain challenging, we anticipate sales at both Waitrose and John Lewis will continue to outperform their respective markets in the second half, reflecting the strength of both brands.

Financial Results
In the first six months of the year, the Partnership delivered good sales growth. Both Waitrose and John Lewis grew sales well ahead of their respective markets, increasing their market shares. Partnership gross sales (inc VAT) were £5.01bn, an increase of £282.3m, or 6.0%, on last year. Revenue, which is adjusted for sale or return sales and excludes VAT, was £4.46bn, up by £242.4m or 5.7%.

Partnership operating profit was £176.1m, up £61.2m, or 53.3% on last year. After excluding last year’s exceptional item, it was up by £13.9m or 8.6%.

Profit before tax was £129.8m, up by £61.3m, or 89.5% on last year. After excluding last year’s exceptional item it was up by £14.0m or 12.1%.

Waitrose
Gross sales in the first half grew by 4.1% to £3.15bn with like-for-like sales up 1.3%. This sales performance was delivered in a period of significant structural change for UK food retail. Operating profit for the half was down by 9.4% to £145.2m, however this performance benefited from property profits of £10.5m (2013: nil). The decline in profit was mainly as a result of the substantial levels of investment made across the business and, to a lesser extent, the tough market conditions. Like-for-like sales were ahead, despite the market conditions, price investment and strong comparative growth in the same period last year.

Our market share grew to 5% and we had on average 670,000 more customer transactions a week, compared to the same period last year.

Being employee-owned allows us to take a long-term view about what is right for our customers and our business. We have maintained the level of investment needed to create the modern Waitrose. Our significant investments in new and existing space, online, convenience, price, hospitality, services and in deepening our understanding of our customers, positions us well for the future.

Our programme of investment in new and existing shops scaled up in the first half. We opened 15 new branches, compared with four new branches and one relocation in the same period last year. We also opened in five additional Welcome Break locations.

We have continued to invest in our core estate, carrying out three major refurbishments and one significant extension (compared to none in the same period last year) and revamping the front of store in a further 40 shops with welcome desks (compared to 15 in the same period last year) and a further 76 shops with horticulture pods (compared to 44 in the same period last year).

In addition, we are developing our supply chain infrastructure to support future growth and the expansion of multichannel retailing. Our new distribution centre in Leyland became fully operational in the half, and we began work on Waitrose’s first National Distribution Centre at Magna Park in Milton Keynes.

Waitrose.com was an area of significant investment and performed strongly in the period with grocery gross sales up 54%. We recruited 46,000 new customers and increased the number of delivery slots available by 79% compared with the same period last year. We launched the new Cellar wine website in May and we will shortly launch Click & Collect for Cellar orders. We are also increasing the number of branches offering Click & Collect for Waitrose grocery orders. In addition, more branches will be handling Click & Collect for John Lewis orders, supported by new processes that will make the service more efficient and faster.

We continued to invest in price during the half. This includes matching Tesco on branded products (excluding promotions) and Sainsbury on own-label, increased promotional participation and special deals for our myWaitrose customers, including 10% off hundreds of everyday products every week.

We saw continued strong take-up of the myWaitrose card and the associated offers and the number of myWaitrose customers now stands at 4.8 million. As well as driving incremental sales, myWaitrose is transforming our understanding of customers and allows us to target and personalise our marketing communications.

We invested in innovative marketing campaigns, including developing our own content for Waitrose TV, launching Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose on Channel 4, as well as launching our new brand advertising focusing on the difference our Partners make.

Along with the best service, top quality products are at the heart of our brand. Product innovation continued apace with the launch of the new Alan Titchmarsh and Waitrose gardening range, Asian Fusion ready meals and the great value Pure beauty range. Our successful essential Waitrose range topped 2,500 products as it celebrated its fifth birthday, while our Heston from Waitrose range has been further expanded.

John Lewis
Gross sales in the first half were up 9.4% to £1.87bn, with like-for-like sales up 8.2%. Operating profit increased by 62.2% to £56.3m.

Our strategy of combining the best brands with an ambitious John Lewis own-brand offer is resulting in sales growth and market share gains across all three categories.

  • Home increased by 7.4%, driven in part by the revitalisation of the housing market. Although ‘House’ remained our biggest brand in Home, the introduction of the ‘Croft’ range proved popular as customers looked for a balance between classic and contemporary design.
  • Fashion was up 9.1%, with online fashion sales growth particularly strong at 33.9%.  In response to the continued success of our own-brand offer, we recently launched our first John Lewis & Co. men’s formalwear collection.
  • Electricals and Home Technology (EHT) delivered growth of 11.7%. For the first time we introduced a John Lewis own-brand smart TV, and our minimum two-year guarantee commitment continues to be a key differentiator for customers.

A year on from launching our new web platform, johnlewis.com sales are up 25.6%, outperforming the industry (IMRG) by 16% in the first half. The online business now accounts for over 30% of John Lewis merchandise sales. Click & Collect sales have grown by nearly 50% and now make up over half of online orders. In addition, a continued focus on our mobile strategy has led to over half the traffic to johnlewis.com coming from mobile and tablet devices. This Christmas the cut-off time for ordering for next day collection will be extended to 8pm, complemented by the addition of over 90 new Waitrose locations and the nationwide rollout of CollectPlus.

Investment has continued in new and existing shops as we continue to develop our portfolio. John Lewis York opened in April and, combined with the success of our Exeter shop, demonstrates that there is a role for a smaller department store format to complement regional flagships and at home branches in our future growth. Our first airport shop at Heathrow Terminal 2 opened in June and, as part of our ongoing efforts to meet customers’ demand for more convenient ways to shop, we announced that a new ‘Click & Commute’ shop will open this autumn at St Pancras station. Our next full-line department store will open in Birmingham in 2015, along with shops in Basingstoke and Horsham.

We have also invested in new social experiences in our shops. July marked the opening of two restaurants in John Lewis Oxford Street, Italian restaurant Rossopomodoro and the UK’s first outlet of Ham Holy Burger, building on the successful launch of Hotel Chocolat and Joe & Juice cafés last year.

Investment in systems and infrastructure continued apace, with the completion of building work at John Lewis’ second National Distribution Centre in Milton Keynes allowing the site to be used as support for existing operations ahead of full operations starting in 2016.

Our 150th anniversary was a unique opportunity to create memorable experiences for our customers and Partners, as well as to collaborate with famous brands to create special edition products. For the first time, we opened the roof garden of our Oxford Street shop and built an interactive exhibition to tell the story of the Partnership. These experiences were enjoyed by more than 150,000 customers. We celebrated our role as the Official Department Store Provider to the Commonwealth Games with a pop-up urban garden in Glasgow city centre, and our brand benefited from its association with a celebrated national event.

Innovation remains key to staying ahead in a competitive retail market and the launch of JLAB, our first-ever technology business incubator, has opened us up to innovative ideas from start-up companies. More than 500 small businesses registered their interest in the chance of a £100,000 investment and the opportunity to trial their technology in our shops.

Partnership Services and Group
Partnership Services and Group includes the operating activities for our Group offices and shared services as well as the costs for transformation programmes and certain pension operating costs. Partnership Services and Group net operating costs decreased by £7.3m to £25.4m.

Investment in the future
Capital investment in the first half of the year was £332.1m, an increase of £166.5m (100.5%) on the previous year. This includes £90.5m invested in freehold properties, an increase of £66.2m on the previous year, and includes seven freehold branches purchased from the Co-operative.

The majority of our spend continues to be invested in our store base, either on new stores or the refurbishment of existing ones. However, to enhance the agility and robustness of our systems and infrastructure, we almost doubled our capital investment in distribution and IT.

Investment in Waitrose was £220.2m, up £120.4m (120.6%) on the previous year, and in John Lewis investment was £91.3m, up £37.1m (68.5%).

Pensions
The pension operating cost was £92.1m, an increase of £8.1m or 9.6% on the prior year costs before the exceptional item, reflecting changes to financial assumptions and growth in scheme membership.  Pension finance costs were £19.8m, an increase of £2.1m or 11.9% on the prior year, reflecting a higher accounting pension deficit at the beginning of the year than at the beginning of the previous year. As a result, total pension costs were £111.9m, an increase of £10.2m or 10.0% before last year’s exceptional item.

Following the conclusion of the triennial actuarial valuation of our defined benefit pension scheme as at 31 March 2013, we agreed to increase the ongoing contribution rate to 16.4% of members’ gross taxable pay and put in place a plan to eliminate the deficit over a 10 year period through a one-off contribution and annual deficit reduction contributions. In the first half of the year total contributions to the pension scheme totalled £100.6m, an increase of £43.2m or 75.3% on the prior year.

The total accounting pension deficit at 26 July 2014 was £1,029.0m, an increase of £25.6m (2.6%) since 25 January 2014.  Net of deferred tax, the deficit was £843.5m. The accounting valuation of pension fund liabilities increased by £218.8m (5.2%) to £4,437.0m, while pension fund assets increased by £193.2m (6.0%) to £3,408.0m.

The pension continues to be one of the most important benefits offered to Partners, but it also accounts for the greatest single investment made each year by the Partnership. The review of the pension scheme, to ensure that it can remain fair to Partners and affordable from a business perspective, is ongoing with a revised draft proposal published in July. The proposal is to move to a hybrid scheme combining defined benefit and defined contribution pensions, where future pension risk is shared between Partners and the Partnership. Partners remain at the centre of the review as co-owners of the business and have the opportunity to share their views.  A decision is expected to be reached by Partnership Council and the Partnership Board in early 2015 following consultation with Partners.

Financing
Net finance costs on borrowings and investments decreased by £4.5m (15.3%) to £25.0m. After including the financing elements of pensions and long service leave and non-cash fair value adjustments, net finance costs decreased by £0.1m (0.2%) to £46.3m.

At 26 July 2014, net debt was £755.9m, an increase of £270.1m (55.6%) in the half year and £262.5m (53.2%) higher than 27 July 2013.  The year-on-year increase reflects the funding to support the significant step up in capital investment across the Partnership.  We expect net debt at the end of the year to be at a broadly similar level to January 2014.

Sustainability
Consistent with our belief in the importance of taking a long-term view, this year we are undertaking a thorough review of the medium to long-term CSR challenges facing the business. This will inform our business plans moving forward and ensure we continue to reduce our environmental impact, while supporting communities where we trade and maintaining scrupulous relations with our suppliers around the world.

Meanwhile, we have continued to deliver against our existing ambitious commitments.  For example, our new John Lewis branch in York, which opened in April, is the lowest carbon branch on the John Lewis estate and includes many innovative design features to support the local area’s biodiversity. The branch has been assessed as Outstanding under the BREEAM rating system for buildings. To date, the Partnership remains the only retailer to have achieved the ‘Outstanding’ rating for any of its stores.

Our business has always recognised the importance of building sustainable supply chains and working closely with suppliers and communities.  We were delighted that, on World Oceans Day, Waitrose was named Best Certified Fish Counter 2014, for selling the broadest range of Marine Stewardship Council certified options of any UK supermarket.  Waitrose also relaunched its national ‘Grow and Sell’ scheme to encourage schoolchildren to produce food and sell it; the scheme has nearly trebled in size since it launched, teaching children land management and entrepreneurial skills.  In India, a new school, funded by the John Lewis Foundation, opened in Bhadohi, a region where a number of our rug suppliers are located, providing much needed access to education for girls, and signalling our long-term commitment to the area.

Notes to editors
The John Lewis Partnership – The John Lewis Partnership operates 42 John Lewis shops across the UK (31 department stores, 10 John Lewis at home and a shop at Heathrow Terminal 2), johnlewis.com, 326 Waitrose shops, waitrose.com and business to business contracts in the UK and abroad. The business has annual gross sales of over £10bn. It is the UK’s largest example of employee-owned business with over 90,000 staff who are all Partners in the business.

Waitrose – the Nation’s Favourite Supermarket¹ and winner of the BestSupermarket² and Best Food and Grocery Retailer³ awards – currently has 326 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 51 convenience branches, and another 28 shops at Welcome Break locations. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop – dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service.  Waitrose also exports its products to 50 countries worldwide and has seven shops in the Middle East.

¹ Conlumino Awards, 2014
² Good Housekeeping Best Supermarket 2014, Which? Best Supermarket 2014
³ Verdict Best Food and Grocery Retailer 2014

John Lewis – John Lewis, ‘Multichannel Retailer of the Year 2014’4, ‘Best Overall Retailer’5 and ‘Best Retailer 2014’6, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores across fashion, home and technology. Johnlewis.com stocks over 250,000 products, and is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. (www.johnlewis.com). John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products – home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover – delivering the values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

4 Oracle Retail Week Awards 2014
5 Verdict Consumer Satisfaction Awards 2014
6 Which? Awards 2014

You can follow John Lewis on the following social media channels:
www.johnlewis.com/twitter
www.johnlewis.com/facebook
www.johnlewis.com/youtube.

Where this interim report contains forward-looking statement these are made by the directors in good faith based on the information available to them up to the time of their approval of this report. These statements should be treated with caution due to inherent uncertainties underlying any such forward-looking information.

For more information view the unaudited condensed interim financial statements for the Half-year ended 26 July 2014(PDF 218KB).

Enquiries
For further information please contact:

John Lewis Partnership
Andrew Moys, Director of Communications
Telephone: 07525 272377
Neil Spring, Senior Communications Manager
Telephone: 07890 777464

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Simon Rigby / Jos Bieneman
Telephone: 020 7638 9571

John Lewis
Peter Cross, Director, Communications
Telephone: 07764 697674
Louise Cooper, Head of External Communications
Telephone: 07808 574117

Waitrose
Christine Watts, Communications Director
Telephone: 07764 676414
Gill Smith, Senior Manager, Corporate PR
Telephone: 07887 898133