WAL-MART, USA: The falling price of petrol has encouraged drivers to shop more frequently at Wal-Mart, according to head of US operations Eduardo Castro-Wright. Speaking at a retail analyst conference broadcast online, he claimed that when fuel prices rose earlier in the year, shoppers had reduced their trips to Wal-Mart's rural stores. But when prices fell in October, Wal-Mart saw an increase in traffic to both its rural and urban stores, he said. While customers were visiting Wal-Mart stores more frequently, they were not necessarily spending less during visits, which was of clear benefit to the retailer.

LIDL, SWEDEN: Lidl has apologised for poisoning the homeless. According to reports, staff poured cleaning fluids on food left in the rubbish bins outside a store near the Stockholm suburb of Solna, when they became fed up with homeless people picking through the bins. Although they put up a warning sign, the poisoned food was still taken.

"Lidl Sweden has been informed that cleaning liquids have been poured into the trash at one of our stores for a short time period," said Mathias Kivikoski, Lidl's chief executive in Sweden. "We deeply regret what has happened and this is not something the company recommends or permits."

The incident was described as "upsetting and distressing" by Rolf Nilsson, head of a Stockholm homeless organisation. "We're talking about people who have to dig in garbage containers to find food to eat," he said.

NTUC FAIRPRICE, SINGAPORE: Singapore's largest supermarket chain, NTUC FairPrice, has said it will continue expanding its 6,400 workforce, despite the global recession. The company was pushing ahead with its planned expansion and adding new stores and more staff, according to FairPrice chairman Ng Ser Miang. FairPrice's business was still growing, he added.

"More people are eating at home, so they are buying more from us to cook. We will continue to grow our business and recruit new staff to meet our expansion. We are still hiring temporary staff to cope with the coming festive period."

COCA-COLA, AUSTRALIA: Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings has revealed its Australian subsidiary Lion Nathan is in discussions to acquire Coca-Cola Amatil for A$8bn (£3.48bn) in a deal that would be the biggest ever for Kirin. Coca-Cola Amatil holds the licence to sell Coca-Cola products in Australia. Kirin said it would facilitate the proposed takeover by buying A$3.76bn (£1.64bn) of new shares to be issued by Lion Nathan.

Kirin bought a 45% stake in Lion Nathan in 1998 and will now buy up to 327 million of the company's new ordinary shares for A$11.50 per share. Lion Nathan is the second-largest beverage company in Australia and is the market leader in New Zealand. As of 2007, Coca-Cola Amatil had a 43% share in Australia's non-alcohol market.