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Kmart parent poses concerns about its future

BY Brian Berk

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart parent Sears Holdings, revealed in in its annual Form 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its “[H]istorical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern.” 

In response, the company will transition into a “customer-centric” company. “The retail industry is changing rapidly,” the company wrote in the report. “The progression of the Internet, mobile technology, social networking and social media is fundamentally reshaping the way we interact with our core customers and members. As a result, we are transitioning to a member-centric company. Our focus continues to be on our core customers, our members, and finding ways to provide them value and convenience through Integrated Retail and our Shop Your Way membership platform. We have invested significantly in our online ecommerce platforms, our membership program and the technology needed to support these initiatives.”

Sears Holdings added it must respond quickly to ongoing technology developments and implement new ways to understand and rely on the data to interact with its members and customers and its ability to provide attractive, convenient and consistent online and mobile experiences for our members. “We must anticipate and meet our members' and customers' evolving expectations, while counteracting developments by our competitors and striving to deliver a seamless experience across all of our sales channels. We may need to adjust our strategic initiatives depending on our members' and customers' reactions to and level of engagement with our initiatives. Failure to execute these initiatives or provide our members with positive experiences may result in a loss of active members, failure to attract new members and lower than anticipated sales. There is no assurance that our initiatives and strategies will improve our operating results,” the company stated.

The Hoffman Estates-based company added its sales and operating results depend in part on its ability to predict consumer demand for products and services we sell, availability of merchandise, product trends, and its members' and customers' purchasing habits, tastes and preferences. “If we misjudge these predictions, our relationship with our members and customers may be negatively impacted, and we may be faced with excess inventories of some products, which may impact our sales or require us to sell the merchandise we have obtained at lower prices, and missed opportunities for products and services we chose not to offer. In addition, merchandise misjudgments may adversely impact the perception or reputation of our company, which could result in declines in member and customer loyalty and vendor relationships. These factors could have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations,” the company wrote.

At this point, it is too early to determine if and how this new approach will affect Kmart stores and pharmacies. Sears reported it had 735 Kmart stores as of Jan. 28, a decrease of 206 stores compared to the same time one-year prior. Kmart pharmacies are located in 451 of its stores.

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NCPA announces ‘Pharmacy Fly-In’ dates to address Congress

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association on Tuesday announced it will hold its 2017 Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In April 26-27, when hundreds of community pharmacists will visit the nation’s capital to advocate for community pharmacy and their patients.

“As the scrutiny on the abuses of pharmacy benefit managers intensifies, it’s more important than ever for community pharmacists to come together on behalf of our patients and press our case to Congress," stated DeAnn Mullins, president NCPA. "We’ll be urging them to take action on legislation aimed at ending crippling direct and indirect remuneration fees collected retroactively,” she said. “The NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In is a once-a-year opportunity for community pharmacists to flex their political muscle. We’ll meet with elected officials in person about these critical issues and we’ll make a difference for our patients. I strongly encourage all community pharmacists and community pharmacy supporters to join us as we fill the halls of Congress this April to advocate for small business pharmacies and the patients we serve.”

In addition to enacting legislation to ban retroactive pharmacy DIR fees, NCPA members’ top legislative priorities are:

  • Ensuring community pharmacies and the patients they serve are protected in Affordable Care Act repeal/replace reforms and in any Medicaid reforms;
  • Increasing transparency and oversight of MAC pricing in federal health programs;
  • Allowing any willing pharmacy to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks; and
  • Passing pharmacist provider status legislation.

 
The Fly-In will feature a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill with former Rep. Jim McCrery, now a partner at Capitol Counsel, and a breakfast keynoted by Jayne O’Donnell, health care reporter for USA Today. Community pharmacists will be on Capitol Hill to conduct meetings with their members of Congress on April 26 and 27.

Individuals can register for the event online at www.ncpanet.org/flyin.

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Walmart delves deeper into e-commerce with tech incubator launch

BY David Salazar
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The nation’s largest retailer is delving deeper into e-commerce and evolving technology with its newest investment.
 
Walmart has formed Store No. 8, a technology incubator that will be based in the Silicon Valley. (The new initiative is named after an early Walmart store that company founder Sam Walton used to try out new retail strategies.)
 
The new venture is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart's e-commerce head, who joined the retailer after it acquired his company, Jet.com, last August. Speaking at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, Lore said Store No. 8 will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. 
 
Store No. 8 will headed up by Seth Beal, previously senior VP for global marketplace and digital store operations at Walmart and Jet's Katie Finnegan. It will be charged with identifying emerging technologies that could prove useful, and also help create new start-ups, according to The New York Times. It will also strike strategic partnerships with other promising young e-commerce companies.
 
Speaking at Shoptalk, Lore said Wal-Mart has an advantage over pure-play online retailers due to its large network of stores that attract shoppers for such items as fresh food.
 
"Every day, I become more and more convinced about the omnichannel advantage," Lore said. 

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