Wal-Mart online soars; stores flat
Bentonville, Arkansas: Wal-Mart has reported wildly differing fortunes for its stores and website Walmart.com. Like-for-like sales at its stores fell 0.1% during November - its first drop since 1996 - and this month it has predicted like-for-like sales growth of no more than 1%. However, traffic to Walmart.com is already 60% up on 2005, with Thanksgiving Day (November 23) its busiest day so far this year, the retailer said. Meanwhile, thousands of customers were evacuated from a Wal-Mart store in the Mid West of America after store officials detected methane gas. The store is built upon an old landfill site and has been plagued by environmental problems. Developer John McGill said faulty floor drains had been emitting sewer gas.

Kroger delivers strong growth
Cincinnati, Ohio: US supermarket chain Kroger has reported a 5.3% increase in third-quarter like-for-like sales. Net profit increased from $185.4m (£94.3m) to $214.7m on total sales up 4.8% at $14.7bn. "Our associates continue to put customers first as Kroger's third-quarter performance indicates," said David Dillon, chairman and chief executive officer of Kroger. "These results once again demonstrate Kroger's ability to consistently deliver strong, sustainable growth over time."

Friesland Foods looks to efficiencies
Meppel: Dutch dairy company Friesland Foods is set to scale down its production facilities in Hungary and Slovakia to increase its efficiency in the region. It will invest €10m (£6.75m) in its Debrecen plant in Hungary, creating 75 jobs. But production sites at Gyöngyös and Nagybánhegyes in Hungary will close next month with the loss of 154 jobs. Meanwhile, part of its production at Nitra in Slovakia will be transferred to Debrecen.

Heinz down 6% in second quarter
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Heinz has reported a 6% decrease in second-quarter net profit to $191.6m (£97.4m) on sales up 3.5% at $2.23bn. Net profit was hit by higher tax rates and discontinued operations, while sales were boosted by higher prices and a weaker dollar. In Europe, overall sales decreased 0.8% as higher pricing on Heinz soup and pasta meals in the UK was offset by reduced volume in Italy and Russia.

Euro brings price rounding down
Ljubljana: Aldi-owned Hofer will round down all retail prices in Slovenia from 1 January when the country adopts the euro. The move is in response to consumer fears that there would be hidden price increases following the switch in currency. Aldi also rounded down prices in 2002 when the euro was introduced in 12 European countries.

Bulgaria's Piccadilly to expand
Varna: Bulgarian supermarket chain Piccadilly will open six stores by the end of 2008 as it prepares for more customers when the country joins the European Union next month. The stores are expected to be situated in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, the retailer said. It has predicted sales will exceed BGN100m (£34.5m) this year, up from BGN63m the year before.