Canadian convenience operator Couche-Tard posted record net earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2011 this week, up 42% against the same period of the previous year. But its efforts to acquire Casey’s General Stores were dealt a heavy blow when the US company completed its latest round of defences in the from of its modified “Dutch auction” self tender offer. Meanwhile, Nestle boosted its presence in the growingly important Russian market, Marks and Spencer appointed a new chairman and rumours began to circulate that Campbell Soup Co may bid for United Biscuits.

CANADA: Couche-Tard posts record Q1 results

Canadian convenience operator Couche-Tard posted record net earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2011, up 42% against the same period of the previous year. The chain posted C$129.5m (US$122.6m) net earnings, which it attributed to increases in merchandise and service sales, the growth in same-store motor fuel volume in both Canada and the US as well as a 3.69 cents per gallon increase in motor fuel gross margin in the US.

UK: M&S appoints Robert Swannell as chairman

Marks and Spencer Group (M&S) has announced that Robert Swannell will replace Sir Stuart Rose as the retailer’s chairman next year. Swannell will join the M&S board on 4 October 2010 as a non-executive director prior to taking up his position as chairman on 4 January 2011.

UK: Campbells may bid on United Biscuits

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Campbell Soup Company is reportedly considering a GBP1.5bn (US$2.33bn) bid to acquire UK food manufacturer United Biscuits.

Talking Shop: Tesco makes half-hearted click-and-collect attempt

Tesco announced it is joining a number of French retailers and becoming the first UK retailer to launch a click-and-collect, or “drive-thru” grocery service.

CHINA: Itochu plans expansion in China

Major Japanese trading company Itochu Corp says it plans to increase investment in the food sector in China under its new medium-term business plan starting next April. 

RUSSIA: X5 Retail Group’s profits hurt by weak rouble

Russia’s largest retailer X5 Retail Group saw net profit fall 81% in its second quarter to US$24.9m which it attributed to a foreign exchange loss. 

US: Casey’s General Stores completes self tender offer

Casey’s General Stores has completed the latest round of defences against its hostile suitor Couche-Tard, when it announced the preliminary results of its modified “Dutch auction” self tender offer.

RUSSIA: Nestlé opens chocolate production lines

Swiss food giant Nestle has opened two premium chocolate production lines in Russia. The two lines, which were transferred from the Tuchkovo factory in the Ruzsky district, Moscow, to the Samara region, will produce premium brand Comilfo chocolate.

Comment: Managing the risks of reformulation

Reformulating products, particularly well loved ones, poses a great risk to manufacturers, so when Mars announced it has reformulated its chocolate bar ranges, it wasn’t surprising to hear that it has required some five years of research and development.