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Interbrand ranks top U.S. retail brands

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Some of the nation’s most popular retailers earned a spot on Interbrand’s annual ranking of the 50 most valuable U.S. retail brands.

Walmart topped the list, with Target coming in the No. 2 spot, while CVS/pharmacy, Walgreens and Sam’s Club respectively earned the fifth, sixth and seventh spots.

Other retailers on the list included Publix, Dollar General, Costco, Whole Foods and Family Dollar.

The U.S. brands study is part of Interbrand’s "2011 Best Brands" report, which ranks the top retail brands from the United States, Asia Pacific, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. In the United States, the study noted that brand-led companies have proved resilient, responding rapidly to the downturn while taking advantage of its opportunities — the total value of the top 50 brands rose 5.45%, or $20 billion.

The report also called out three emerging trends for 2011:

  • Customer’s demand for a more seamless retail experience;

  • The need for human touch in all interactions; and

  • An increasingly interrelated global retail market.

Click here to read the full report.

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GNC announces IPO

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — GNC Thursday evening announced its initial public offering of 22.5 million shares of its Class A common stock at an opening price of $16 per share.

Of the shares offered, 16 million are being issued and sold by GNC and 6.5 million shares are being sold by selling stockholders.

In addition, selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 3.4 million shares. That offering is expected to close on April 6.

GNC announced it will use net proceeds of approximately $240 million, together with cash on hand, to redeem approximately $223 million aggregate liquidation preference of the company’s Series A preferred stock; pay down approximately $300 million of outstanding indebtedness under GNC’s senior credit facility and pay approximately $11 million in satisfaction of the company’s obligations under its management services agreement and Class B common stock.

Goldman, Sachs and J.P. Morgan Securities, along with Deutsche Bank Securities and Morgan Stanley, are acting as joint bookrunners for the offering. Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse Securities, William Blair and BMO Capital Markets are acting as co-managers.

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Healthcare exec joins Walmart

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Dijuana Lewis was named SVP healthcare solutions at Walmart, the company announced Thursday. She will report to John Agwunobi, who serves as president of Walmart’s health-and-wellness business unit.

Lewis most recently served as president and CEO of health benefits company Wellpoint’s comprehensive health solutions business unit, but was dismissed from the company last fall after a senior leadership shakeup. She spent 16 years with Wellpoint, and that background and insight should prove valuable at Walmart, where she is expected to oversee development of products and services in collaboration with a third-party payer in the healthcare industry.

“Dijuana’s experience developing innovative health solutions, marketing and product development, and provider contracting and relations will help strengthen Walmart’s position as an everyday low-cost provider of healthcare solutions,” Agwunobi stated in a memo.

Lewis will bring a new perspective to Walmart’s health-and-wellness unit, as Wellpoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical enrollment, with more than 33 million members in its affiliated health plans and a total of more than 69 million individuals served through all subsidiaries.

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