Bentonville, Arkansas: Wal-Mart could face the biggest sexual discrimination case in US history after a court ruled that more than 1.5 million women who have worked in Wal-Mart's US stores since 1998, could join a class-action suit against the retailer alleging they were discriminated against in terms of pay and promotions. "This is just another step in what will be a very long process and we are still in the early stages of the case," said Theodore Boutrous, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and lead counsel for Wal-Mart's appeal. "We are optimistic about our chances of obtaining relief from this ruling as the case progresses."
Carrefour makes Polish plans
Paris: French retailer Carrefour is planning to invest PLN500m (£84.9m) in Poland this year, opening seven hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets. It is also planning to launch a chain of franchised neighbourhood stores in the country, according to reports in the Polish press. In December, Carrefour acquired the Polish operations of Dutch retailer Ahold for €375m (£246m). Meanwhile, Carrefour is also in talks with India's Wadia Group to enter the Indian market in a joint venture, according to India's trade and commerce minister Kamal Nath.
Costco goes for solar power
Lake Elsinore, California: Costco has installed a solar-powered energy system at its warehouse in Lake Elsinore, California. The new system is expected to supply more than 725,000 kWh every year for 25 years. "This solar roof is an important addition to the list of technologies available to us in order to reduce our purchases of electricity and lower our impact on the environment," said Craig Peal, assistant vice president for energy and building controls at Costco.
Ahold reports 3% drop in sales
Amsterdam: Ahold has reported a 3% fall in sales to €10.4bn (£6.8bn) for the fourth quarter of 2006. However, sales for the full-year rose 2% to €44.9bn (£29.8bn), the Dutch retailer said in a sales update. Market conditions "remained unchanged" and margins at its US Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover businesses had been impacted by price investments related to the roll out of a value-improvement programme, it added.
Woolworths gathers momentum
Sydney: Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has reported a 15.9% increase in total sales to AUD$22.1bn (£8.7bn) for the 27 weeks to 31 December. Like-for-like sales in its Australian food and alcohol division rose 6.4% during the period, with sales up 9% at AUD$14.3bn (£5.7bn). In its New Zealand Supermarkets division, like-for-like sales were up 3.8%. "The positive momentum in the business has continued into the second quarter, with strengthened sales results in all divisions delivering both accelerated growth and increased market share," said Woolworths CEO and managing director Michael Luscombe. "The December trading period was solid and in line with expectations."