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Double-digit profit gains for Alliance Boots

BY Michael Johnsen

BERN, Switzerland — Alliance Boots on Wednesday reported a double-digit profit gain for its year ended March 31. Underlying profit after tax was up 12.7% to $1.2 billion, though revenue was down slightly by 2.6% to $34.2 billion. 

“2012-2013 has been a transformational year for Alliance Boots, putting us on a path to become the clear global leader in our industry," Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots executive chairman said during a webcast presentation. "Against the background of major corporate activity … and the continuing challenging market conditions prevalent across the world, Alliance Boots has again delivered double-digit growth in underlying profit after tax," he said. "Any way you look at it, this was a strong performance, given the continuing economic difficulties across the globe."

"Looking forward, we expect the economic environment to remain difficult with ongoing pressure on both consumer and governmental expenditure," commented George Fairweather, Alliance Boots group finance director. "Despite this, we continue to be confident about our prospects and ability to pursue profitable growth." That profit will be generated organically from existing businesses, increasing profits from the joint synergy program and future acquisitions, Fairweather said.

Indeed, underlying trends in global healthcare support continued growth ahead, Pessina noted. "Demographic and social pressures continue to drive demand for health care and medicines while payers attempt to constrain overall cost. These trends increase demands for generic medicines and for high-quality services delivered in local communities, both of which we are ideally placed to meet."

In the U.K. market, where Alliance Boots operates 2,386 Boots pharmacies, the company extended its health services through a 49% stake in Sonova’s U.K. subsidiary. Sonova operates around 390 practices providing hearing healthcare solutions, mainly trading as Boots hearing care within Boots stores and Boots Opticians practices. "Through this … investment, we now have a leading position in the U.K. hearing care market," Fairweather said. And the company’s synergistic Boots Opticians division realized a 2.7% gain. 

Alliance Boots has also recast its No7 beauty brand in the past year into the global market, launching its first U.S.-based No7 boutique at the Walgreens flagship store in Hollywood. "[This builds] on No7’s established position in over 1,770 Target stores across America," Fairweather said. "And in Asia, we’ve commenced a trial with Dairy Farm, selling Boots products, including No7, in a select number of Mannings Health and Beauty stores in Hong Kong."

"One of our key strengths is our ability to deliver the benefits of our international scale to each and every customer — patient, pharmacist or suppliers — in a way that is personalized and relevant to them in their local market," Pessina concluded. "We are in a unique position to partner with both branded and selected generic pharmaceutical manufacturers across the globe, to develop their business for our mutual benefit. … No other group has the international management expertise, scale and dimension to replicate this." 


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Safeway increases quarterly dividend by 14%

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Tuesday announced that its board of directors approved an increase to its regular quarterly cash dividend from $0.175 per share to $0.20 per share, reflecting a 14% increase. 

The board also declared a cash dividend of $0.20 per share payable on July 11, 2013 to stockholders of record at the close of business on June 20, 2013.

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Convenient care health professionals gather for 2013 RCEC

BY Antoinette Alexander

LAS VEGAS — Healthcare professionals working within the growing field of convenient care convened here Tuesday for the sixth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress, a three-day educational and networking forum that is accredited for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The 2013 RCEC conference, which is hosted by Drug Store News Group in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association and Partners in Healthcare Education, is being held at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas. It runs from May 14 to May 16.

The event kicked off Tuesday morning with a breakfast and Product Theatre presentation presented by Teva Respiratory. Speaking at the presentation, which is new to this year’s RCEC agenda, was Judith Newell, family nurse practitioner with the Pulmonary Associates in Phoenix. Newell spoke on the advances in exercise-induced bronchospasms and the therapeutic considerations.

Also new to this year’s RCEC agenda is a poster session program, which not only represents an important opportunity for healthcare providers to share research, programs and results with their peers but it also increases the number of CE credits that clinicians can earn at RCEC. Attendees can also mingle with the authors to learn more about their poster presentations during the Meet the Author events. The posters cover such topics as weight management and infectious diseases.

(Posters in Poster Session Program will remain on display throughout the conference)

This year’s event once again features, in addition to a track that is accredited for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the Executive and Health Systems Leadership Colloquium. The executive track is designed for management, upper management and C-level executives of retail clinic operators, and companies and organizations interested in entering the retail clinic industry.

Tuesday’s executive track, supported by Athenahealth, kicked off with a session titled, “Healthcare Reform: The Role of Retail Clinics Meeting ACA Requirements Surrounding Quality and Preventative Care.” Speakers included Web Golinkin of RediClinic, Eileen Myers of The Little Clinic, Cynthia Stamper Graff of Lindora and Alan London of Take Care Health Systems. Each talked about different programs within their clinic operations, what works best and why, and how other clinic operators can offer such services.

For example, Golinkin talked about the success of RediClinic’s 10-week weight/lifestyle management program called Weigh Forward.


(Web Golinkin of RediClinic speaking at the Executive and Health Systems Leadership Colloquium)

“This is as much a lifestyle management program as it is a weight management program and parenthetically it is also a platform that we are using as the foundation for disease management programs,” Golinkin told attendees. “We firmly believe that this combination of brief visits with a clinician, combined with access to a technology platform both for the clinician and the patient, is the way you maximize impact and minimize cost.”

London discussed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on the U.S. healthcare system and also how Take Care Clinics are expanding their scope of services.

“It is a perfect storm. We have, I really believe, a once-in-a-career opportunity … to be at a point where we can actually change the way health care is delivered and financed,” London told attendees. “… You all are at the front end of that change in a very exciting time, but we have to be able to prove we can do this. So, over the next few years we have to prove that we can expand and consistently provide care all across the country, that we can improve access, that we can improve outcomes, we can improve care coordination with the physicians. And if we do that, we will become an indispensable segment of the healthcare delivery system.”

Additional executive tracks held throughout the first half of the day included “What the Future Holds: Building the Workforce” and “Strategic Partnerships and the Building of the Business Model.”

 

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