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Inside Retail (Jul 19th, 2017)

McCormick & Co. Inc. (MKC) says it plans to buy Reckitt Benckiser Group’s North American food business, RB Foods, for about $4.2 billion. Unilever and Hormel Food were also competing for RB Foods, which includes brands like French’s mustard, the world’s leading mustard brand. Reckitt Benckiser put its food unit up for sale about three months ago. The deal suggests that companies are willing to pay top-dollar for established brands in a global food and beverage industry that is hot with mergers and acquisitions. McCormick shares slid more than 5 percent in Wednesday’s session on the news. – WSJ

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Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) plans to open 28 more locations by the end of the month, including 21 Ross Dress for Less locations and seven dd’s Discounts locations. The company has planned to open 90 locations in total this year, expanding at a time when many other brick-and-mortar retailers are announcing store closures and bankruptcies. “We continue to believe that over the long-term, Ross can grow to 2,000 locations and dd's can become a chain of 500 stores,” said Chief Development Officer Jim Fassio. – MARKETWATCH

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Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. (KORS) is reportedly planning to bid for rival Jimmy Choo plc (CHOO). But Kors has competition. CVC Capital Partners and another unnamed party are also jockeying for an acquisition. France-based Interparfums said it cannot comment on whether it is among the potential bidders for Jimmy Choo because the two companies have a non-disclosure agreement. Jimmy Choo’s majority shareholder, JAB Luxury, said in April that the luxury footwear and accessories company had put itself up for sale. Kors shares are down 20.4 percent year to date. – RETAIL DIVE

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Signet Jewelers Ltd. (SIG) named a new CEO this week. Virginia “Gina” Drosos, an independent director on the company’s board, will start August 1 after current CEO Mark Light steps down for retirement and due to health reasons. Drosos, previous CEO and president of Assurex Health, has been an executive in the beauty and consumer goods industry for 29 years. Wall Street analysts seemed unconcerned about the transition. Oliver Chen of Cowen & Co. reiterated a market perform rating on Signet’s stock while saying Light’s retirement is “unexpected, but likely to have a neutral impact.” SIG stock is down 39.4 percent year to date. – BARRON’S

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Robots are increasingly replacing retail workers at large companies. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) now has cash machines that count money, a task previously done by employees, at nearly all of its 4,700 U.S. locations. Now, those positions are obsolete. Many of those works have moved to a “greeter” position at the big box retailer, but hundreds have left. Many jobs in the retail industry are ideal for automation, economists say. One report from Citi Research concludes that about two-thirds of positions in the retail industry are likely to disappear by 2030. – WSJ

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