Organic healthfood supplier Meridian Foods, based in Denbighshire, has bought Organic Valley, a pioneer in the supply of organic canned foods, for an undisclosed sum. John Lewis Partnership has paid its staff an average of £2,000 each as part of its annual profit related bonus but the payout of £78m was well down on last year's £98m, when it made record profits. WH Smith News plans to connect thousands of retailers to its wholesale houses via the internet after linking with technology company Axon Group to form Connect2U. Sir Richard Branson is set to launch in the early summer ahead of a possible flotation, with the aim of selling 8,000 wines online. Unilever's Grey Poupon mustard brand will have to be sold after the European Commission ruling following the group's acquisition of Amora-Maille. Marks & Spencer is selling its Gyle shopping centre in Edinburgh for £200m to a pension fund group, amid speculation it will soon dispose of its Baker Street headquarters on a sale and leaseback arrangement. A £9m bid has been made for Tesco's 18 Northern Ireland off licences. The deal will be announced at the end of the month when the mystery bidder will be revealed. Asda, Waitrose and Iceland have banned foods containing the pesticide lindane, ranging from apples to sprouts. The chemical has been banned in 14 countries after being blamed for causing breast cancer and birth defects. Tesco employees have been told to increase payments to their pension scheme by as much as 15% because of investment changes introduced by the Labour government in 1997. A new Retail Exellence Awards Scheme has been announced by Palmer & Harvey McLane for its 750 symbol group stores. Winners from each of Mace, Your Store and Supershop groups can win a five day trip to Cyprus in October. Asda has awarded a contract to speciality foods company Dartington to supply 23 of its Serendipity products to 20 stores in the South East of England. Home delivery supermarket SimplyOrganic Food Company has joined forces with Virgin Net to provide free internet access for customers. The firm is also dropping delivery charges on the first internet order over £35 until the end of March. Taylor Nelson Sofres has bought internet advertising trend specialist Competitive Media Reporting in the US for £56m. Wembley Arena is up for grabs for conversion to a supermarket following plans for the construction of a new venue. The existing site is a grade two listed building. No group has been named for the site as yet. CWS has opened a £750,000 outlet in Raynes Park as one of its new concept Welcome c-stores. Costcutter is changing its range of staff uniforms from the old bottle green colour to "highly fashionable" black garments. {{NEWS }}