Spar International has announced plans to open 100 new stores in central Russia by mid-2007. There are currently 67 supermarkets trading in the region under the Spar brand. Two different formats have been launched to meet the needs of Russian consumers: Spar neighbourhood stores and larger Eurospar stores for weekly shopping.

United States
Fresh spinach is starting to make a comeback to supermarket shelves following an E coli outbreak that has kept it out of stores for more than two weeks. Safeway and Albertsons have both started restocking the product in small amounts this week, while Whole Foods Market has started selling it in bunches but not yet in bags.

The chief executive of Dubai Landmark Group, Micky Jagtiani, has said that the company is in talks with Carrefour about opening up to 200 stores in India. He added that Landmark was in talks with two other retail companies about developing outlets, although he declined to identify the companies involved.

The military-backed government in Thailand has threatened larger retailers with fines or prison terms of up to three years in a bid to slow down expansion plans and protect smaller stores. Guidelines ban big supermarkets from selling goods at "unfairly low prices".

Unionised workers at Loblaw have voted in favour of strike action. About 27,000 workers from the multiple's Loblaw, Zehrs and Real Canadian Superstore units in Ontario are seeking a new contract in negotiations that resumed last week. A strike could begin imminently, although the union has not yet set a deadline.

United States
Pernod Ricard US has announced that its Rich & Rare and Royal Canadian Whiskey brands will be sold to New Orleans-based Sazerac. Alain Barbet, president and CEO of Pernod Ricard US, said that the divesture was consistent with the company's strategy.

Middle East
UK halal food brand Mumtaz is launching its range of halal babyfood in the Middle East. It will be available in Carrefour supermarkets in Saudi Arabia from 10 October, and will be rolled out in other countries across the region next year. The range, which caters for babies aged four months-plus and seven months-plus, was launched in the UK six months ago.

Seven-Eleven Japan is to lower prices for some processed food items by an average of 15% and a maximum of 23% from next week, according to reports in the Japanese press. The retailer says the aim is to cut price differences of certain product lines compared with major retail rivals.