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Bloomberg reports gloomy consumer outlook

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

WASHINGTON — A report released Thursday by Bloomberg said that U.S. consumer confidence held last week at the second-lowest level of 2011 as the highest number of households in three years said it was a bad time to spend.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was minus 49.3 in the period to Sept. 11, near the 2011 low of minus 49.4 reached in May. The buying climate gauge slumped to the lowest level since October 2008.

According to the report, the majority — 9-out-of-10 — of Americans polled had a negative view on the economy.

The consumer comfort gauge has been stuck below minus 40 — the level associated with recessions or their aftermath — since the end of February. It has averaged minus 45.4 this year, compared with minus 45.7 for 2010 and minus 47.9 in 2009, the year the last recession ended, according to the report.

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Retail vet Giancamilli announces retirement; Scorpiniti to lead 1,800 Katz stores

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO — Katz Group Canada, Canada’s largest integrated pharmacy network with more than 1,800 chain, franchise and independent pharmacies, has announced the retirement of industry veteran Andy Giancamilli as CEO, effective Feb. 2, 2012.

Giancamilli, who will serve in an advisory role until May 2012 following his retirement in February, will be succeeded by Frank Scorpiniti, who joined the company in April as COO.

Giancamilli may be retiring after more than 40 years in the retail industry, but make no bones about it: This marks the beginning of a new chapter for the 61-year-old who was born near L’Aquila, Italy, and came to the United States as a young child.

“It’s time both in my life and professionally, … and the company is in a good spot. We have achieved quite a bit in the last eight years, and I have a strong management team in place. We brought Frank on board in April of this year, and he’ll take over Feb. 1, which is almost a year transition. We got to know him and feel very comfortable with his leadership style so we are leaving the company in good hands, and it is a strong company,” Giancamilli said. "You know when it’s the right time, and it’s the right time.”

Giancamilli, a pharmacist by training, joined the company in October 2003 as president and COO, and in March 2004, assumed the role of CEO of Katz Group Canada.

Throughout his years at Katz Group, Giancamilli has led the effort to rebrand Rexall and its retail pharmacy network, to launch the “A Pharmacy First” positioning campaign and set about remodeling its stores.

He spearheaded such forward-thinking initiatives as the Rexall Network, an employer-based program aimed at increasing medication compliance and adherence through establishing pharmacy care programs in the workplace. He also played a key role in advancing pharmacy care initiatives, promoting access to pharmacy services in Canada, and is behind a companywide pharmacy education program anchored in a Rexall Healthy Living concept. (For details, click here.)

“One of the things that I’m really satisfied about is that we were able to really brand the entire company Rexall. When we first got here with the team, it was basically an unknown entity, and today it is one of the most recognizable brands in Canada. I give the credit to our entire organization. But, most important, our store-level team members have really fostered and built that brand, and I’m really satisfied about that and really proud,” Giancamilli said. “I’m just a coach; it’s the players who really put the points on the board.”

However, that was far from the beginning of Giancamilli’s mark as a visionary leader.

Giancamilli is well-known in U.S. retail circles. He came to Katz after a three-year stint as an EVP at Canadian Tire, where he led a successful drive to boost that company’s dealer network and customer satisfaction. Prior to that, he was president and COO of Kmart, and was president and COO of Perry Drug Stores prior to its sale to Rite Aid.

In looking back, Giancamilli said he is proud of how Perry Drug Stores grew during his time there and the memorable time spent with founder Jack Robinson, who opened his first Perry Drug Store in 1957. The two remain good friends to this day.

“And moving to Kmart. I go in to run the pharmacy business, and I end up being president and chief operating officer, so that was quite remarkable. My time there was building brands like Martha Stewart, Newman’s Own and Sesame Street, so that’s where I got my brand experience on how to build a brand and how to bring a brand together,” Giancamilli said. “I then got the experience to do it all over again but in a foreign country. Sometimes we don’t think of Canada as a foreign country, but it is.”

Now, years later, with a successful, nationally recognized brand and solid management team in place at Katz Group, Giancamilli is looking forward to spending more time with family, especially his two new grandchildren, and having the flexibility to pursue personal interests and fulfill some long-time passions outside of the retail industry.

One of his first orders of business: To rebuild his childhood home in Italy, which was damaged several years ago in a severe earthquake.

You also might find Giancamilli on the racetrack behind the wheel of a Ferrari as he noted that racing is a hobby of his, as well as boating and golf.

“There’s a lot of things I’d like to do, but I’ve never had the time to do it. … And you take a look at your life and you say it’s time to do them. But my priority has always been the company and to make sure it is in good hands,” Giancamilli said.

“The company is in good hands. It’s a strong company, and it has great management from our stores to head office,” Giancamilli said. “We should see it be very successful in the future.”

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All eyes are turning toward Walgreens-ESI title bout

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Round one between Walgreens and Express Scripts may have technically been a draw, but that still means Walgreens’ appeals to benefit consultants and payers are still out there. Whatever the outcome, the Walgreens-ESI scorecard certainly has drawn plenty of eyes to a title bout that has become a very public battle for patients.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens, ESI dispute moves to arbitration following court decision. For the full story, click here.)

News of the issue certainly has reached all constituents by now. Walgreens earlier this month filed a white paper with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that caught the attention of Wall Street. And Walgreens has posted the why in its decision to leave Express Scripts’ network, along with any impact that it will or won’t have, at Ichoosewalgreens.com.

One thing is for sure: There is not going to be an overnight resolution to this. Analysts who had suggested this issue would be resolved soon after Walgreens and Express Scripts first separated from the negotiating table this past summer are now having second thoughts. Many of those analysts are now projecting that Walgreens and Express Scripts will, in fact, part ways come January.

Such being the case, the outcome of the coming round will only set the stage for next year, as that’s when the gloves are expected to really come off. Because after Jan. 1, plan sponsors will be able to actually score a win or draw in this contest. That’s when plan sponsors will best be able to measure whether their patients are better served (and cost efficiencies better realized) with one or the other — Walgreens alone or in another network, or an Express Scripts network sans one Chicago-based pharmacy.

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