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Korean retailer takes a ‘Mega’ leap into U.S.

BY Jim Frederick

DULUTH, Ga. —Korean retailer Mega Mart took the wraps off its first U.S. store on Oct. 8, debuting in a sprawling, 150,000-sq.-ft. former Macy’s department store at Gwinnett Place mall in this Atlanta suburb.

Mega Mart operates 13 other stores, including 10 in its native Korea and three in China, but this two-story location in suburban Atlanta marked its first foray into the United States. The store features a broad mix of product categories, including a full floor of apparel, jewelry and other general merchandise. On the lower level is a huge assortment of produce, packaged foods and fresh-prepared deli items.

Mega Mart also offers a small healthy and beauty aids set in a perimeter alcove, but of far greater impact is a dramatically lit skin and beauty care boutique, where staffers advise a mostly female clientele on moisturizers, cleansers, replenishment creams and other products for face, body and bath.

Much of the food mix consists of products from Korea and other Asian nations, and caters to the area’s large Asian and Latino communities. But Mega Mart also features a broad mix of grocery items from U.S. and European manufacturers, and company officials said the store is designed to appeal to a broad cross-section of shoppers.

Officially, Mega Mart is not yet announcing definitive expansion plans for the United States. But one company manager told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that 10 more units could open in the United States over the next five years, and a store employee told Drug Store News the chain also is eyeing locations in Los Angeles and other West Coast markets, as well as Toronto.

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Assured sees high rise in same-store sales

BY Alaric DeArment

FRISCO, Texas September same-store sales at Assured Pharmacy increased by 13.5% compared with last year, the specialty pharmacy provider said Thursday.

Assured, which specializes in treating chronic pain, said sales were $1.4 million, or around $66,253 per business day, compared with $1.23 million a year ago.

“We are pleased with our September sales results and our continued patient growth, with 3,064 patients serviced in the month of September,” CEO Robert DelVecchio said. “As these sales figures reflect, we remain on track for increased sales and market share growth, improved earnings at the store level and stronger cash flow.”

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Retailers, drug makers can help cut diabetes rate

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes over the next several decades is likely to place huge strains on the U.S. healthcare system, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year. It also means the diabetes market will continue to be a hot bed for innovation for decades to come.

(THE NEWS: Diabetes prevalence among Americans may increase to 33%, CDC study finds. For the full story, click here)

Barring a cure for the disease or a dramatic reversal of current trends, the plague of Type 2 diabetes is likely to get worse and account for numerous hospitalizations, as it already does. According to the government Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 1-in-5 U.S. hospitalizations in 2008 were related to diabetes, with the greatest concentration in the South.

No individual, company or even government agency can reverse the trend on its own, but many — including retailers — can help. And that will continue to feed a frenzy of activity in this space.

Agrowing number of supermarkets across the country have used various means to promote healthy eating, ranging from easy-to-read nutritional rating systems to in-store nutrition experts and store tours. Meanwhile, pharmacists and retail clinicians, as healthcare providers, can use their expertise to spread awareness as well. Rite Aid stores will offer free Diabetes Solutions Days events Nov. 2 through 4.

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross has won recognition for a pilot diabetes program, “Bridging Cultural Health Care Gaps: Diabetes,” which seeks to find culturally appropriate ways to communicate about diabetes to African-American and Hispanic members. Anthem conducted the pilot among 4,000 of its members in California and Georgia, and plans to expand the program to other states. 

More of these localized types of efforts — borne out of the spirit of the Ashville Project — continue to arise.

And of course, manufacturers continue to lead the innovation, and many are going beyond just products. Novo Nordisk recently released the BlueSheet, a report that promotes awareness and education in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

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