Business Diary: 04/08/2009

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The Independent Online

Whole Foods keeps it charitable despite loss

The organic food retailer Whole Foods Market has received its fair share of criticism for the botched launch of its UK flagship store on London's Kensington High Street two years ago.

But despite making a painful pre-tax loss of £35.9m in the year to 28 September 2008, the grocer's UK arm, Fresh & Wild, made charitable contributions of £38,012, up substantially on the year before. The company's UK charities include The Missionaries of Charity, which organise a soup kitchen for homeless people in the area. Whole Foods now just needs its customers to show it more charity with increased spending in its stores.

If in doubt, blame it on unhelpful journalists

First Quench Retail, the company behind the Threshers, The Local and Wine Rack off licenses, is the latest to have a moan about journalists. "Press coverage has not helped with supplier negotiations," it said in an internal document last week. But the issues facing FQR – which made a loss of £30m in the year to 28 June 2008 – precede recent coverge. The same document also mentions "tough trading"; the closure of 290 loss-making stores; and the withdrawal of credit insurance to suppliers in Jan/ Feb – although cover is now being increased. It seems some recent coverage has merely focused on the horse having already bolted.

eBay staff walk an external tightrope

While it's good news for the online auction giant eBay UK that nearly all its staff use the site, employees may feel under pressure to achieve a stellar "feedback rating" for being an active user. Such an accolade may help their career, but internal addicts could also be viewed as not having a life outside of work. If this sounds like a tightrope, the consolation of eBay employees is that climbing the greasy corporate career pole is rarely easy.

Letting the unions know what you think

Wal-Mart is well-known for feeling a little chilly about trade unions. Now its Canadian arm has taken a local trade union to court, seeking an injunction to prevent United Food and Commercial Workers even mentioning the retailer on its website – or using its corporate colours, any variation of its logo, pictures of its staff and parodies of its slogan. That should get the message over.

4,682: Number of the day

The highest closing level for the FTSE 100 index of blue chip stocks since Lehmans collapsed last October