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Ingles Markets off to good start

BY Allison Cerra

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Net sales for Ingles Markets rose 5.2% to $918.2 million for the first quarter ended Dec. 24, the retailer announced.

Comparable-store sales, excluding gasoline sales, rose 3.4%, compared with the year-ago period. Average transaction sizes and weekly customer visits also saw boosts, rising 1.3% and 2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, net income saw the biggest gain, increasing 38.5% to $10.6 million, compared with the same period last year. Additionally, basic and diluted earnings per share for the company’s publicly traded Class A common stock were 45 cents and 43 cents, respectively, compared with 33 cents and 31 cents, respectively, for the year-ago period.

Ingles Markets CEO Robert Ingle said that the past holiday season led to a good start for fiscal 2012.

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Meijer appoints COO

BY Allison Cerra

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer announced Friday some structural changes to its business, including the appointment of a chief operating officer, a newly created position.

Meijer said its EVP merchandising and marketing J.K. Symancyk will serve in the new role. Symancyk will report Meijer president Mark Murray.

Replacing Symancyk as EVP merchandising and marketing is Peter Whitsett, who most recently served as EVP global merchandising for Dick’s Sporting Goods and has an extensive background in leadership roles with such retail brands as Kmart and Radio Shack.

“I am extremely pleased to announce this new role for J.K., as well as the addition of Peter Whitsett to the Meijer team,” Meijer co-chairman and CEO Hank Meijer said. “As we position our company for continued growth, it’s essential that we have the proper structure and talent. This evolution of our leadership team under Mark Murray will help ensure our company’s on-going success in a very competitive industry.”

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Pharmacy retailers can help bring diabetic limb amputations down through education, MTM

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Lower-limb amputation is a very real risk for many of the 25.8 million Americans living with diabetes. Though this study may be encouraging, the job of reducing the incidence of diabetes — and in particular, educating people about the need to watch their diets, take their medications and take care of their bodies — remains far from complete, as other recent stories in the media have revealed.

(THE NEWS: CDC study reports drop in lower-limb amputations among diabetes patients. For the full story, click here)

A 10,149-patient Finnish study published earlier this month in the journal Diabetes Care found that many patients at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes don’t see the need to seek lifestyle counseling to prevent themselves from getting the disease and that those who attended a supervised lifestyle intervention were more likely to perceive a need for it than those who agreed to a self-initiated lifestyle change. Meanwhile, celebrity chef Paula Deen attracted widespread criticism for what many saw as hypocrisy after announcing that she would become a paid spokeswoman for a diabetes drug after hiding her Type 2 diabetes for three years, during which she continued eating sugar- and fat-laden foods.

What this all shows is that diabetes and its often tragic consequences remain unknown or at least ignored by a large number of people. Luckily, however, pharmacy retailers are in a position to ensure that patients take their drugs and have the information they need.

With medication therapy management programs, pharmacists can counsel patients to ensure that they take their drugs in the way that their doctors have ordered. Meanwhile, pharmacy retailers — particularly supermarkets and mass merchandisers with big food sections, but also drug stores — can emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy diet.

Rite Aid, for example, teamed up with celebrity chef Sam Talbot, a Type 1 diabetic and author of the cookbook "The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries," to launch the Rite Track Diabetes Tour. CVS has made headway with the Pharmacy Advisor program, which mixes retail and PBM services, and Walgreens has won recognition for its MTM programs. Many supermarkets conduct store tours for people with diabetes. And all three retail formats are in a position to educate diabetes patients about the importance of things like foot care.

Reducing the incidence of diabetes, especially Type 2 — and consequences of the disease, such as amputations and blindness — is going to take a long time, but in pharmacy retailers, the country already has a well-developed infrastructure for providing the most important tool of all: education.

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