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99 Cents Only sees slight Q4 comps growth

BY Gail Hoffer

CITY OF COMMERCE, Calif. — 99 Cents Only Stores announced that retail sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011, a 14-week period, were $366.4 million, compared with $328.6 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, a 13-week period. The additional week included in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 contributed an additional $26.9 million of retail sales, the company reported. Same-store sales, calculated on a comparable 13-week period, increased 0.5%

The company reported that consolidated net income increased by $1 million to $17.9 million, or 25 cents per diluted share, versus $16.9 million in the prior year, or 24 cents per diluted share.

Eric Schiffer, CEO of 99 Cents Only Stores, stated, "We are pleased with the continued progress of our long-term operational improvement programs. Continuous improvement in all areas of our cost structure has enabled us to achieve a pre-tax profit margin of 7.4% for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 versus 7.3% for the same quarter in the prior year, and 8.3% for the full fiscal year versus 6.9% for the prior year. Despite continued improvement in our pre-tax profit margin, our net income as a percentage of sales declined for the fourth quarter to 4.7% versus 5.0% last year. This percentage decline was primarily due to an increase in the effective tax rate from 31.9% of pre-tax income to 36.3% of pre-tax income, primarily due to one-time tax benefits in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010."

The company believes that revenue growth in fiscal 2012 will primarily result from new store openings and increases in same-store sales. For fiscal 2012, the company expects same-store sales to be positive in low single digits and plans to open at least 16 stores with most of its new stores expected to be opened in California. The first new stores should open in July and the majority of the store openings will be in the second half of fiscal 2012.

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A&P divests Superfresh stores in auction

BY Antoinette Alexander

MONTVALE, N.J. — Grocer A&P recently completed the previously announced auction of 25 Southern Superfresh locations as it continues to implement its financial and operational restructuring, the company announced on Wednesday.

The winning bids, which are subject to approval from the bankruptcy court before the sales would be completed, will be listed in motions of the company to be filed with the court on May 27. The winning bids are as follows:

  • Ten stores — two in Baltimore and one each in Parkville, Arnold, White Oak, Lutherville, Cambridge, Chestertown and Brunswick, Md.; and Washington, D.C. — were won by a joint venture between Mrs. Greens Management and Village Supermarkets. The White Oak and Lutherville, Md., stores will be operated by Village Supermarkets, with the remaining stores to be operated by Mrs. Greens Management;

  • The Ellicott City, Md., store was given to Supervalu;

  • The Westminster, Md., store was given to its landlord, Englar Center Limited Partnership; and

  • In addition, the prescription customer lists of seven Superfresh stores were awarded to three different bidders (three to Walgreens, three to Safeway and one to CVS/pharmacy). Based on these results, the company expects auction proceeds in excess of $40 million.

The bankruptcy court is expected to consider its motions on these proposed sales at a hearing on June 14. A&P expects to cease operating these 12 stores by mid-July.

The company anticipates closing the 13 remaining Superfresh locations that were not sold at auction. These locations are expected to be closed by mid-July, subject to approval by the court.

As previously announced, the company’s Superfresh locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Maryland/Delaware shore area were not included in this bidding process. These stores continue to operate as normal.

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Technology could help patients kick bad habits

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Medication nonadherence is sort of similar to substance abuse: It’s a societal issue that stems from multiple causes and as such, probably will never completely disappear; however, it still can be mitigated. And because it stems from multiple causes, effectively combating it also requires multiple strategies.

(THE NEWS: HealthPrize, RealAge look at social media, gaming technology to improve adherence. For the full story, click here.)

But any effort to address nonadherence ultimately depends on the patient. Scaring patients about the dangers of not taking drugs properly only can go so far, especially considering that many patients are nonadherent for reasons that may scare them more immediately than those dangers, such as high costs and unpleasant side effects. But HealthPrize has found that leveraging technologies that patients use — such as smartphones and the Internet — to give them rewards for taking their drugs as directed by prescribers can go even further.

In a January study of 20 patients, the company found that adherence among patients who received cash rewards and got to play interactive games was 88%. And in a March survey of 100 physicians, respondents said they were 30% more likely to prescribe a medication that included a program with adherence incentives than to prescribe a medication that didn’t.

The possibilities go beyond HealthPrize’s platform. The integration of Ford Motor’s SYNC technology and WellDoc’s services creates another avenue through which people can be encouraged to take their drugs properly. And for retailers, incentives for adherence are a natural fit, with possibilities ranging from discounts to cash rewards to sweepstakes to online and mobile games.

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