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Fresh & Easy adds solar power to Phoenix-area stores

BY Allison Cerra

PHOENIX — Fresh & Easy has installed solar electric systems from REC Solar at stores in the Phoenix area.

REC Solar said it installed roof-mounted solar systems — which feature REC Peak Energy Series panels from global solar panel manufacturing leader REC Group — on 10 Fresh & Easy stores throughout the greater Phoenix metro area, including stores in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Avondale, Ariz. Each of the 10 stores features an in-store display that reports real-time solar energy production at the store while explaining how solar systems work to store customers.

On average, Fresh & Easy stores use 30% less energy than a typical supermarket.

"Fresh & Easy’s commitment to the environment is not just about reducing our carbon footprint, but also about saving money that we pass on to our customers," Fresh & Easy president and CEO Tim Mason sad. "These solar panels will provide about 20% of our store’s energy needs at more than one-third of our Arizona stores."

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Obesity lays out a smorgasbord of opportunity

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Drug store real estate executives should take note: Today, 1-in-3 Americans are over their ideal weight; in 20 years, that number will be 1-in-every-2. So the time to stake what-will-become-prime time real-estate opposite every Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, or just about any burger joint that asks "would you like our sure-to-leave-you-bloated fries with that?," is now. Obesity equals opportunity.

(THE NEWS: Obesity rate in the United States to rise by more than 65%. For the full story, click here)

For those interior real estate executives, otherwise known as category managers, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing out diet aids or even synergistic categories to diet aids. Because the sale of diet aids is faddish. What’s popular one bikini season will be merchandised in the clearance bin before the year is out. Remember the low-carb meal replacement sets? Many retailers rose that low-carb wave some years ago by exploding their 4-ft. bar and ready-to-drink shake merchandisers out into sets as long as 24 linear ft. And many of those retailers ended up taking a bath on those super-extended sets when the obese stopped buying.

But obesity is a medical condition that can help tie the back-bench to the front-end in so many different ways. That’s because obese people are more prone to diabetes; they’re more prone to heart disease; and they’re more prone to bone/joint issues — the body’s just not designed to carry that much extra weight on the frame over the course of decades. And the fact that there are more obese people at a younger age (just Google "teenage obesity epidemic") means those more-complex disease states will begin shifting the target disease-state demographics younger. Indeed, it already has. 

That lays out a literal smorgasbord of opportunity for savvy retailers who are just as keen on suggestive selling health as fast food chains are on rounding out that burger meal with an order of fries. To be sure, many retailers are already taking advantage, as evidenced by supermarket walk-throughs led by a pharmacist and/or nutritionist, or the number of drug stores boasting pharmacists who double as certified diabetes educators. But be prepared. It won’t be too long before there’ll be a need to blow out the sets containing the blood pressure monitors, heart-health and joint-health supplements, the external analgesic rubs and braces and the durable medical equipment offerings. And those sets won’t be subject to the whims of a fad. Those sets will serve the now 1-in-3 and tomorrow’s 1-in-2 patient population in need.

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Garza kicks off NACDS Pharmacy and Technology Conference in Sunday business session

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Pharmacy and Technology Conference opened Sunday with remarks by conference chairman and Walgreens divisional VP government and community relations Debbie Garza, who highlighted the value of community pharmacy and urged attendees to engage to ensure the vitality of pharmacy’s future.

"There is no greater value in healthcare delivery than community pharmacy," Garza said. "When I talk of value, I am not talking just about all that community pharmacists do every day to help reduce drug spend. Though that is important, pharmacy’s value goes so much deeper. It is about community pharmacy — and the expertise of pharmacists — as a true partner in a comprehensive and collaborative approach to health care. It is about improving patient health, while delivering part of the solution to driving down health costs across the spectrum by preventing more costly forms of care."

Garza also urged attendees to "engage in new ways to help create the future success of the entire pharmacy industry" and make the case to decision makers about community pharmacy’s value in reducing costs and delivering care to patients.

"Together, we have a powerful story to tell," Garza said. "We need to stand up. We need to tell it. To the extent that we do just that, I am convinced that healthcare delivery will be all the better for it."

Other speakers at the session included H-E-B chief administrative officer and NACDS chairman Robert Loeffler and Michael Leavitt, former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services and chairman of Leavitt Partners.

Speakers at subsequent business programs included Surescripts president and CEO Harry Totonis; IMS Health VP industry relations Doug Long; and NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson.

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