Walgreens shuffles retail deck with new initiative

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT The news that Walgreens is moving into the fresh food arena and has hired a veteran food merchant to spearhead the effort says the retailer is serious about the initiative and taking on grocery stores.

(THE NEWS: Tapping food veteran to head effort, Walgreens moves into fresh food arena. For the full story, click here)

As the article states, Walgreens has brought on board Jim Jensen, former director of fresh foods for Fresh and Easy Markets, to serve as divisional merchandise manager in charge of fresh foods.

Walgreens reportedly will offer "grab-and-go meals, salads, sandwiches and the like" and is likely to move into its own private-label brand of food items.

Such efforts are a clear indication that Walgreens is serious about ramping up basket size and further meeting the needs of time-strapped shoppers.

However, Walgreens isn't alone in its thinking.

Duane Reade, for example, recently began offering in some of its new stores fresh sandwiches and salads under its exclusive DR Delish brand and expanded frozen foods. Duane Reade's DR Delish food brand debuted in September. By the end of 2009, more than 100 products, including cookies, coffee blends, trail mix and juices, were available under the exclusive brand.

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