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Food Lion announces lower price strategy

BY Allison Cerra

SALISBURY, N.C. Food Lion rolled out a new initiative to help customers save on their favorite items throughout its stores.

Over the next several weeks, customers will see lower prices throughout the store, in addition to weekly savings on promotional items with the company’s MVP loyalty card. The company is lowering prices on various products throughout its stores in such categories as milk, bread, produce, meat, juice, cereal, canned goods, detergent, paper products and pet food.

“Food Lion has a long-standing heritage of delivering low prices to its customers,” said Cathy Green, president of the Food Lion family of banners. “In today’s economic environment, we know price, more than ever, matters to our customers. We estimate customers can save up to 25 to 30% on their total grocery bill by taking advantage of new, lower prices, as well as MVP promotions. We have always helped our customers save on their groceries and now we are helping customers save even more through our new, lower prices.”

“Our actions [today] demonstrate our commitment to continuing to distinguish Food Lion as a low price leader in the markets we serve,” said James Egan, Food Lion SVP. “We want to serve our customers by having great prices, quality products, delivering great service and providing convenient locations.”

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FDA gives orphan-drug designation to treatment for kidney transplant patients

BY Alaric DeArment

FREMONT, Calif. The Food and Drug Administration has given orphan-drug designation to an investigational preventive treatment for delayed graft function in kidney transplant patients made by Quark Pharmaceuticals, Quark announced Tuesday.

The FDA gave the designation to QPI-1002. The company, which develops therapies that switch genes on and off through a process known as RNA interference, said it had completed enrollment and dosing in a phase 1/2 study of the drug.

 

Delayed graft function, also known as DGF, is a form of kidney failure that increases the risk of rejection of transplanted kidneys and considered an unmet medical need. The FDA grants orphan-drug designation to products for treating rare diseases and conditions affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. Companies that get orphan-drug designation qualify for tax credits and longer market exclusivity periods following approval of the drug.

 

“We are confident that obtaining orphan status will facilitate the rapid development of this innovative compound and hope that ultimately, we can reduce the wait time for kidney transplants with fewer failed grafts,” Quark Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Daniel Zurr said in a statement.

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Walgreens to acquire Duane Reade

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. Speculation has been spreading throughout the industry for some time, and now it’s official: Walgreens has reached an agreement to acquire Manhattan-based retailer Duane Reade in a cash deal valued at nearly $1.1 billion.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, will include all 257 Duane Reade stores located in the New York City metro area, as well as the corporate office and two distribution centers. Walgreens expects the deal to close in its current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31.

For the latest 12-month period ended Dec. 26, 2009, Duane Reade generated unaudited net sales of $1.8 billion.

 

“Duane Reade is a compelling strategic acquisition that will immediately provide Walgreens with a leading position in the largest drug store market in the United States,” stated Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “In addition, Duane Reade’s recent initiatives in urban retailing, customer loyalty and private brand products support and accelerate Walgreens strategy to enhance the customer experience in our network of more than 7,100 stores across the country.”

Walgreens currently operates 70 stores in the New York City metro area.

 

 Walgreens expects to retain Duane Reade’s stores, pharmacy and distribution center employees and many members of Duane Reade’s senor management team. Over time, consolidation of core functions at the corporate offices will occur.

According to Walgreens executives, Duane Reade, which was founded in 1960 and is part of New York City’s fabric with its convenient locations and convenience items, will continue to operate its under its brand name after the deal closes. While New Yorkers may not see much change initially, Walgreens said that decisions would be made over time as to how best harmonize the Walgreens and Duane Reade brands.

“We are pleased that Walgreens shares our commitment to finding new and innovative ways to serve local communities, and we look forward to seeing our customers benefit from Walgreens’ unparalleled pharmacy and operational expertise as we continue with our ongoing transformation,” stated John Lederer, a former Loblaw executive who joined Duane Reade as chairman and CEO in April 2008.

Since taking the helm at Duane Reade, Lederer, and his new management team, has set in motion a significant brand transformation strategy aimed at improving pharmacy, fixing the customer experience and developing a relative, urban drug store box.

 

The transformation, based upon extensive market research, involves rebranding its stores with new signage, a new logo and a new brand mantra: “Duane Reade equals New York living made easy.” The mantra’s goal: to articulate its desire to become the destination of choice for beauty, wellness and convenience needs. These core offerings are being supported by a new concept segmentation that is sub-branded: “How I look, how I feel and what I need now.”

Improvements include new store designs with wide aisles and contemporary decor; a pharmacy featuring lower service counters; in-store health care clinics; and a store-within-a-store prestige beauty concept called “Look Boutique,” which elevates the merchandising of cosmetics and skin care products and features many prestige brands.

To date, Duane Reade has opened or converted 30 stores to the new format and has plans for up to 30 more new or remodeled stores in 2010. The continued roll out of “Look Boutique” is also planned for a growing number of stores across the network.

In addition, Duane Reade recently launched a new expanded customer loyalty program, dubbed FlexRewards, and a new private label offering under the DR Delish name.

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