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We spoke to Brian Dowling of Safeway (US) yesterday, and he offered a clarification of a rumor we reported on earlier this week, that Safeway had cancelled all travel plans for its executives.

This was not the case, he said. The company merely did what most companies do in tough economic times, which is to urge its staffers to examine every expense and cut back on travel plans that might be considered unnecessary.

Told that there were Safeway executives telling people that all executive travel plans had been cancelled, Dowling said that this would signal a “misinterpretation” of the memo on their part.
KC's View:
We’ll accept Brian’s word on this.

Safeway’s been beaten up pretty good in MNB lately, with a lot of questions raised about its operations in various markets. While we think it is entirely legitimate to raise these issues in forums like these -- it is, after all, the reason MNB exists -- it probably makes sense to avoid a sense that we’re “piling on” the company. We suspect that there is a kind of domino effect at work here; Safeway has some issues, which creates uncertainty in the ranks, which maybe fosters some more problems, which leads to a memo urging a careful look at costs, which then leads some people to think that the sky is falling.

Doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t have issues. But it also doesn’t mean that a collapse is imminent.

So we’ll keep watching. And listening. And commenting. And trying to be both fair and provocative.