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HearAtLast opens its first stand-alone U.S. location

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO HearAtLast Holdings, which operates hearing clinics within select Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations, has announced the opening of its U.S. first clinic in The Villages, an adult community in Florida.

Prior to the opening, HearAtLast Stores operated exclusively within select Wal-Mart Stores and Sam’s Clubs throughout Canada. The company has nearly doubled its locations expanding from eight to 15 outlets between October and December of 2007. With the newest location, there are currently 16 hearing clinics in Canada and the United States.

The U.S. HearAtLast location is the product of a joint venture between HearAtLast and Vivatone Hearing Systems, a maker of digital hearing aids.

HearAtLast locations sell a selection of hearing aids and offer complimentary screening tests, clinical hearing tests, instant custom MP3 headphones and custom hearing protection.

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Costco looks to open down under in ’09

BY Doug Desjardins

BELLEVUE, Wash. Costco plans to open its first store in Australia in 2009 and is currently looking at sites for its first store down under.

At its annual shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Wash. on Jan. 29, Costco chairman of the board Jeffrey Brotman said Costco plans to “open in Australia sometime next year” when asked about the chain’s plans for international expansion.

Costco executive vice president and chief financial officer Richard Galanti later confirmed that Costco is searching for sites in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. “We’re looking at opening there in 2009 if everything goes as expected,” said Galanti.

But Costco is still not ready to entertain a move into China. Brotman said Costco has been looking at China for years and said it’s, “still undecided, though we’re taking a hard look at it.”

During his presentation, chief executive officer Jim Sinegal said Costco continued to push eco-friendly ideas in stores last year. He said Costco increased the number of stores powered by solar energy to 13 and that the company is considering solar panels for 25 more locations.

Sinegal also confirmed the 531-store chain plans to open 29 new stores this year and estimates Costco could eventually open 1,025 stores worldwide with more than 700 warehouses in the U.S.

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Walgreens names new lead director

BY DSN STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens today named current board of directors member Alan McNally to the position of lead director. McNally has served on Walgreens board since 1999.

McNally was chief operating officer of Harris Bank from 1993 to 2002 and chairman of the board of Harris Financial from 1998 to 2006. He is currently retired from those positions but continues to serve both organizations as a special advisor.

“Designating a lead director is becoming a standard good governance practice, making it the right time for us to take this action,” said Walgreens chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey Rein. “Alan’s broad expertise, energy and enthusiasm make him well-suited for this new role.” 

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