Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. is bringing in a new celebrity: popular TV chef Emeril Lagasse, shown above on a November broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show. The media and merchandising company founded by domesticity maven Martha Stewart announced Tuesday that it bought the rights to the Emeril Lagasse franchise of cookbooks, television shows and kitchen products for $45-million in cash and $5-million in stock at closing. The final price could rise to up to $70-million if certain benchmarks are achieved. Stewart did not acquire Emeril's Homebase, which includes Lagasse's 11 restaurants and corporate office. Lagasse remains the host of the Food Network's Essence of Emeril.
Apple shrinks price of iPod Shuffle
Apple Inc., the maker of the iPod media player, cut the price on the Shuffle model by 38 percent after shipment growth for the devices slowed last quarter. The 1-gigabyte iPod Shuffle, the company's smallest model, will cost $49, Apple said Tuesday, down from $79. Apple also introduced a version with double the storage for $69. The bigger Shuffle, which clips onto clothing, can hold about 500 songs. "This makes the Shuffle more competitive in terms of a price-capacity ratio," NPD Group's Ross Rubin said in an interview from New York.
Sweet gesture for honeybees' cause
It's true, Haagen-Dazs says. Honeybees help create ingredients that go into nearly 40 percent of its ice cream flavors. In recognition of the bees' crucial role and their plight under a disturbing malady known as colony collapse disorder, the company is bringing back a classic Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavor, Vanilla Honey Bee. It's expected to be in stores starting this week. Also this week, Haagen-Dazs is launching the "Haagen-Dazs loves Honey Bees" campaign, tagging all its honeybee-affected flavors with a bee-striped heart with wings and "hd loves hb" icon, and has launched a site - www.helpthehoneybees.com - along with a print, TV and online advertising campaign dedicated to the colony collapse disorder problem.
Spread the word, earn a discount
Online shoppers can be a chatty bunch, and Jacksonville's Pinnacle Communications International is trying to harness that instant communication into a virtual shopaholic community through social-networking site www.GreenbackStreet.com. Launched in late January, the site promises its members cash back on all their online purchases at featured retailers, such as Target, Office Max and Sharper Image. The memberships are free, and shoppers receive their cash back on purchases either by check or by the online payment system PayPal. The site is aiming to capitalize on shoppers' nature to chat about discounts, products and preferred stores with other shoppers, said Bill Levine, president of Pinnacle. The amount of cash back varies with each retailer. At Ace Hardware, for example, shoppers receive 5.5 percent back on purchases. And at Target they get 7.7 percent.
"No one has a crystal ball to look into the economic future, but we know the economy will be a critical factor this year."
Lee Scott, Wal-Mart CEO, who said he expects a more profitable year selling to penny-pinching shoppers after the retail behemoth's renewed focus on low prices paid off with a 4 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.