UK retail dominated our pages this week with the news that the Co-operative Group had finally secured the takeover of rival grocer Somerfield. Elsewhere, however, we saw Belgium-based retailer Delhaize issue a shock profit warning, while China’s booming retail scene continued to grow – although inflation continues to be a problem. Here are the top ten stories on just-food this week.

UK: Co-op seals Somerfield takeover
The Co-operative Group has sealed the takeover of fellow UK retailer Somerfield in a deal worth just under GBP1.6bn (US$3.2bn).

For just-food’s interview with Co-op chief executive Peter Marks on the morning of the announcement, click here.

For an analysis of the Co-op/Somerfield deal and its impact on UK grocery, click here.

UK: Food factory-gate price rises at 22-year high
Factory-gate prices among UK food manufacturers have seen the fastest rise for 22 years, according to Office for National Statistics data published today (14 July).

BELGIUM: Delhaize shares tumble after profit warning
Shares in Delhaize, the Belgium-based retailer, slumped today (18 July) after the company cut its sales and earnings forecasts for 2008 due to declining consumer confidence on both sides of the Atlantic.

EU: EU probe casts doubt on Campina, Friesland deal
Plans for a merger between Dutch dairy groups Campina and Friesland Foods have been thrown into doubt after the EU said the deal could hit competition in the sector.

UK: Heinz drops “baked” from beans label
Heinz has removed the word “baked” from its iconic beans can as part of a “contemporary new look” for the product.

UK: Tesco coy over “own-label push”
Tesco is staying tight-lipped over reports that it is set to launch a range of own-brand products in the UK in a bid to claw back customers turning to cheaper rivals.

UK: Premier price hikes protect profits
Premier Foods, the UK’s largest food maker, said today (15 July) that it expects trading profit to be in line with last year after it managed to recoup higher costs with price hikes.

US: Pilgrim’s Pride to cut 600 jobs
Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. has today (15 July) announced plans to consolidate its El Dorado, Arkansas tray-pack chicken plant into six other facilities resulting in the loss of around 600 jobs.

US: Pierre Foods files for Chapter 11 as rising costs take toll
Pierre Foods has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as the pre-packed sandwich company struggles to deal with soaring raw material costs.

CHINA: Chinese retail sales surge in H1
China’s retail sales surged 21.4% in the first half of 2008, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.