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Albertsons reaches out to kids, diabetics

BY Antoinette Alexander

Health and wellness is a major focus for grocer Albertsons, and that also holds true for its youngest of customers. 


Enter Healthy Kidz Club. 


In the second half of 2010, the company announced the launch of the Healthy Kidz Club. When parents enroll children in the program, each child receives a membership card and an activity sheet. There also is a newsletter to help parents with advice on health topics. Each month, members receive an email newsletter with tips, recipes and information. The second page of the newsletter is for kids and features activities and fun facts that will help them think about health in ways that speak to them. Parents also are encouraged to reach back to pharmacists via email with questions about youth-related health issues.


In other health news, for those patients with diabetes, the grocer is offering meter training and diabetes management classes in most major markets. On the retailer’s website, there’s also an online Diabetes Health Center that houses information on foot care, hypoglycemia, high triglycerides and insulin resistance syndrome, among other diabetes-related topics.

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Target preps cross-border, urban moves

BY Jim Frederick

Target is branching out.


Buoyed by surging profits and customer satisfaction scores, the Minneapolis-based giant is reaching into Canada, preparing a new small-store format for urban areas and going after a bigger share of the nation’s grocery dollar. Target also is spending billions on store renovations, aggressively leveraging a new loyalty card program and growing its commitment to health at its pharmacies and in-store clinics.


Target executives have been energized by the company’s ability to navigate the Great Recession and maintain consumer loyalty. Behind their optimism: a 21% jump in per-share net earnings in fiscal 2010, ended Jan. 30, 2011, along with a respectable 2.1% increase in same-store sales. For the year, net income surged 17.4% to $2.92 billion, with sales up 3.7% to $65.8 billion. 


In early April, the company received more affirmation when consumers, for the second year in a row, named Target the nation’s top value retailer in the 2011 Harris Poll “Equi­Trend” survey.


Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg 
Steinhafel laid out bold plans for the Minneapolis-based chain. “In 2011, we will continue to focus on driving sales and traffic and providing an enhanced shopping experience through key strategic initiatives that include our ambitious remodel program, 5% REDcard Rewards and the launch of our new Target.com 
platform,” he said. “Beyond 2011, we plan to expand our store footprint in new ways, opening our first CityTarget stores in 2012 and opening 100 to 150 Canadian Target stores in 2013 and 2014.”


The CityTarget stores will be roughly half the size of the company’s 110,000-sq.-ft. prototype and reportedly will carry a large offering of fresh foods and a more limited assortment of apparel and general merchandise geared to in-town living. Target recently unveiled plans to open “small-format locations” in urban markets across the United States, beginning with the first CityTarget store in Chicago at the intersection of Madison and South State streets in the historic Sullivan Center, site of the former Carson Pirie Scott department store. 


Target announced early this year its move into Canada, through the purchase for US$1.91 billion of Zellers, a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay, which operates big-box discount stores, many with pharmacies. The purchase of as many as 220 Zellers store locations “will allow us to open 100 to 150 Target stores in Canada, primarily in 2013,” the company reported. Target officials predicted they would spend roughly US$1.05 billion to renovate the stores and expected the stores will generate as much as $6 billion by 2017, CFO Douglas Scovanner told analysts in May.


Target also will spend $2.5 billion in the United States this year alone, “driven primarily by a larger remodel program.” Remodeled units feature an expanded “PFresh” fresh food layout, wider aisles and a beauty department that offers what the company said is “a more engaging shopping experience.”


Target now operates 1,755 stores in 49 states, including more than 250 SuperTarget centers, some 1,565 stores with pharmacies and more than 460 units with its expanded “PFresh” assortment of fresh foods. The addition of PFresh boosted per-store sales an average of 6% to 10%, according to reports, and Target has made fresh foods a priority growth initiative. This year, roughly 400 more stores will feature the sections, according to the company.

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Publix rolling with service advantage

BY Mike Troy

A weak job market and enduring housing challenges in Florida weren’t enough to derail the onward march of Publix last year as the state’s leading supermarket chain expanded its total store count, grew same-store sales and ended the year with record results. 


The company’s formula for success remains the now familiar combination of stellar customer service and top-notch store operations. And with these retail fundamentals forming the core of its value proposition, Publix doesn’t have to concern itself with being the lowest-priced operator in the market, as its core shoppers are willing to pay a little more for a superior store experience and old-school service where employees bag groceries and carry purchases to customers’ cars.


Publix remains a case study that customer service still matters and pharmacy plays a key role in meeting that customer expectation. Publix ended last year with a total of 841 pharmacies and a steady stream of recognition. The company earned the distinction of being the highest ranking supermarket in terms of customer service — for the 17th consecutive year — by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a partnership between the University of Michigan Business School, American Society for Quality and CFI Group consulting firm.


“Offering premier customer service is strategic to all of us. It’s what sets us apart from our competition,” Publix president Todd Jones said.


Happy employees are more likely to take better care of customers, and by all indications, Publix is a good place to work. The company is 1-of-13 charter members of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, having made the cut since the list’s inception in 1998.


Look for more of the same from the company this year as the company expected to open 26 new stores, and with some cooperation from Florida’s economy, it could be looking at an even better financial performance.

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