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Cigna broadens its on-site services with Kronos acquisition

BY Antoinette Alexander

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. —Cigna is expanding its on-site health capabilities by acquiring Kronos Optimal Health—a move that demonstrates the importance of employer-based health care.

Kronos, which has served as a vendor for Cigna for several years, is a Phoenix-based health-and-wellness company that specializes in lifestyle management programs, face-to-face coaching, biometric screenings and health education programs. With a contracted network of about 13,000 health coaches, health educators and screeners across the United States, Kronos will support Cigna’s on-site programs, as well as provide health management services to existing clients.

Cigna Onsite Health offers full-service on-site clinics, pharmacy services, one-on-one health coaching, biometric screenings and flu shots, and on-site/online health improvement programs delivered in a classroom setting, as well as employee assistance programs. It is led by a management team experienced in operating multi-specialty group practices, urgent care centers, pharmacies, laboratory services and convenient care clinics.

A recent report by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health stated that 72% of employers already have enhanced their on-site offerings with programs geared toward stress management, EAPs or health coaches, or expect to do so in the next 12 months. The report also found that companies with effective health and productivity programs are more likely to have lower healthcare costs, lower levels of absenteeism, fewer lost days due to disabilities and lower levels of turnover relative to their industry peers.

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Bashas’ rejects Albertsons’ buyout bid

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Bashas’ has turned down a nearly $300 million buyout offer from Albertsons, according to published reports.

According to an American City Business Journals article, the Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas’ was uninterested in a buyout offer of $290 million for the chain.

Bashas’ filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, announcing the following month that it would close 14 stores. Still, the published reports quoted an attorney representing the company as saying that the reorganization plan would ensure Bashas’ remained in the hands of the Bashas family, which has owned it since 1932.

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Shoppers’ new initiatives sets chain up to become retail giant

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT While the decision to move in this direction may have been made before Chong Bang crossed the border, there is no questioning that industry watchers will be focused on what SDM’s new top merchant will do to further improve the stores.

(THE NEWS: Shoppers Drug Mart takes a page out of CCR playbook. For the full story, click here)

That has a lot to do with Bang’s pedigree — he’s directed a significant merchandising program at Walgreens, one of the leading pureplay pharmacies in the United States. And now he’s at Shoppers, the leading drug store retailer north of the border.

Bang will be armed at Shoppers with the sales data generated by 9.7 million members of the pharmacy’s Optimum loyalty program, 80% of whom are women. When you consider that there are only 34 million Canadians, that means that almost 1-in-3 Canadians are members of Shoppers’ loyalty program, and almost 1-in-2 Canadian women.

Presently, Shoppers plans to grow its square footage at a clip of 8% to 9% with a new distribution center slated to open in 2010 to help support that growth. And that’s really going to be Bang’s merchandising challenge — finding a way to slip one more item into that Shoppers marketbasket in a saturated marketplace. Bang certainly can’t build front-end sales by attracting new customers. There just aren’t that many Canadians who don’t already shop at Shoppers.

For Bang, it’ll be a question of optimizing categorical synergies and in doing so help drive impulse purchases. Similar to Walgreens, Shoppers is on a mission to make a good shopping experience better, and Bang’s expected to help realize that goal.

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