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Ahold share buyback program reaches milestone

BY Alaric DeArment

ZAANDAM, Netherlands — Dutch supermarket operator Royal Ahold has bought back more than a quarter of the shares it intends to as part of a share-repurchase program announced earlier this year.

The company said Monday that it had bought back 2.23 million for $38.8 million. The purchases are part of the $678 million buyback program announced in February and increased by $2.03 billion in June.

The total amount repurchased so far is 42.8 million shares, for a total price of $711.9 million.

Ahold’s U.S. subsidiary is Ahold USA, which owns the Stop & Shop, Giant Food of Landover, Md., and Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Pa., supermarket banners and the Peapod online grocery service.

 

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Dollar store value proposition increasing in scope and relevance

BY Michael Johnsen

It’s been the week of the dollar store. Dollar General opened store No. 11,000 last week, and Family Dollar continues to reinvent its brand relevance with the consumer as the company posted monster gains for its fiscal fourth quarter and the year, driven by store experimentation, remodels and the introduction 1,000 SKUs, including many health and beauty items. 

With that kind of store front and store brand ubiquity, respectively, the value proposition inherent in this channel has to be appealing to more than those either on government assistance or recently furloughed by the government. 

Because that makes Dollar General the largest CPG retailer in the country, followed by Walgreens. And with Family Dollar elevating the quality perception across its store brand — total sales for private labels increased by about 10% and by 20% for private label consumables — the company has plans in place to introduce about 200 private-label SKUs in fiscal year 2014.

Truth is, dollar stores are shopped by household incomes of all shapes and sizes. So it only makes sense to offer more — more stores and more products. 

According to a recent research report published by Mintel, half of all dollar channel enthusiasts bank more than $150,000 per household. 

It’s a confluence of factors that’s driving that business — the sluggish economy makes the dollar channel value proposition all the more relevant to today’s consumer. And the proliferation of both mainstream brands and higher-quality private label offerings has helped transform what had been a treasure-hunt trip into the dollar store as a destination visit. 

According to Mintel, three-in-four shoppers think that dollar stores are the best deal going, and more than half of consumers have reported the dollar channel shopping experience and price position rival those of retailers outside of the dollar channel. 

And while Family Dollar is augmenting its private label position (what retailer isn’t these days?), the dollar operator is still pursuing strategic partnerships with mainstream brands

“Retailers are starting to demand customization,” Jocelyn Wong, Family Dollar chief marketing officer, explained to attendees of the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo. “Retailers are no longer just place[s] where you go to buy things. [They] have become powerhouse brands, and as they start to think of themselves more as brands, there’s a need for greater collaboration [with suppliers],” she said. 

 

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McKesson Health Solutions names SVP and general manager for Decision Management

BY Michael Johnsen

NEWTON, Mass. — McKesson Health Solutions on Thursday announced that Ian Gordon, former president and CEO of Topaz Shared Services, has joined the company’s executive team as SVP and general manager for Decision Management. In his new role, Gordon will head Decision Management business and will help lead the evolution of the company’s innovative payer-provider collaboration agenda and technologies. 

"Ian brings to our team a customer-centric view and 21 years of senior experience as a top payer market executive," stated Emad Rizk, president of McKesson Health Solutions. "His decision management and industry expertise are unparalleled and will be crucial as we operationalize new collaborative technologies, such as coverage decision management, with clients across the payer and provider spectrum," he said. "Ian’s understanding of the challenges ahead will help us take our point-of-care decision support tools to the next level of market adoption, penetration, acceptance and capability."

Gordon will be replacing Matthew Zubiller, who has been promoted to VP strategy and corporate development.

Prior to his tenure at Topaz Shared Services, Gordon served as COO of BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina and president and COO of Meritain Health. He has also held senior leadership positions at Concentra Preferred Systems, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna.

 

 

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