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Kroger in 2017 to celebrate 30 years supplying Kentucky Derby’s annual Garland of Roses

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI – In celebration of Kroger's 29-year history of providing the Kentucky Derby's annual Garland of Roses, the company released a new video Friday that showcases the 'Journey of the Roses' – from a Rainforest Alliance-certified grower in Bogota, Columbia to the Winner's Circle at Churchill Downs– and highlights the humanity and passion embedded in every step along the way.

"We are committed to conscientiously driving sustainability and innovation into our supply chain," stated Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, Kroger's director of sustainability. "We are honored to support the Kentucky Derby, and our partnerships with the Rainforest Alliance and Passion Growers ensure that the flowers used to create the iconic Garland of Roses are produced responsibly."

Kroger supplier Passion Growers produces the "Freedom" roses featured in the garland on their farm in Bogota, Columbia. The roses – which are Rainforest Alliance certified based on Passion Growers' ongoing commitment to their employees and a sustainable environment – are transported directly to Louisville, where a team of master florists stands ready at a local Kroger store to hand-sew more than 400 roses onto the garland.

This annual process, which takes place on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, can last up to 12 hours and is open for the public to watch.

Kroger has been the official florist of the famous garland since 1987. The Kentucky Derby, also referred to as the "Run for the Roses", is the most famous horse race in America. Filled with history and tradition, the race attracts over 150,000 spectators annually. The Garland of Roses, which is presented to the derby winner, is one of the world's most-recognized floral arrangements.
 

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Allergan expands eye care pipeline with acquisition

BY David Salazar
DUBLIN and ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Allergan announced Tuesday that it had acquired substantially all of the assets of RetroSense Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on novel gene therapy approaches to restore vision for patients with blindness. The acquisition saw Allergan pay RetroSense a $60 million upfront payment, with the promise of potential regulatory and commercialization milestone payments for the company’s lead development program, RST-001 — a potential therapy for retinitis pigmentosa. 
 
"The acquisition of RetroSense and its RST-001 program builds on Allergan's deep commitment to eye care, and our focus on investing in game-changing innovation for retinal conditions, including Retinitis Pigmentosa, where patients desperately need treatment options," Allergan president and CEO Brent Saunders said. 
 
Currently, RST-001 has been administered in a low dose to patients enrolled in a Phase 1/IIa clinical trial. The drug is a gene therapy that uses an approach that confers light sensitivity to cells that weren’t previously or natively light sensitive. 
 
"With its deep commitment to eye care, strong eye care professional community network, and its commitment to advancing innovation across retinal conditions, Allergan was the most compelling partner and the best strategic fit to advance the development of RST-001 and maximize the potential for this technology platform," RetroSense Therapeutics’s former CEO, Sean Ainsworth, said. “The addition of RST-001 to Allergan's world-class eye care development and commercialization organization will position this potentially revolutionary technology to be used by ophthalmology professionals to improve the treatment of patients with retinal diseases around the world.”
 

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Walmart, MoneyGram partner on new online money transfer platform

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS – MoneyGram and Walmart on Tuesday announced the launch of a new state-of-the-art online money transfer platform that offers customers new features and a streamlined experience when sending money through Walmart.moneygram.com.

"We are pleased to be a part of this exciting opportunity to help Walmart deliver a true omni-channel experience. For nearly 20 years MoneyGram and Walmart have worked together to provide our customers with the highest quality and most convenient financial services," stated Juan Agualimpia, MoneyGram's chief marketing officer and Walmart senior leader. "This new offering is a testament to our combined commitment to our customers."  

"Improving the customer experience to save time as well as money is a priority for Walmart," added Kirsty Ward, senior director of financial services, Walmart U.S.  "This new digital experience for MoneyGram transfers at Walmart.com is another example of delivering seamless solutions for customers wherever they choose to shop."

The upgraded Walmart.Moneygram.com site is built on MoneyGram's new cutting-edge MTaaS platform (Money Transfer as a Service).  MTaaS extends the same convenient services as MoneyGram's website, moneygram.com to third party allies through a co-branded experience.

"We are pleased to build upon the investments we are making to our innovative online capabilities," said Alex Hoffmann, MoneyGram's chief product officer. "MTaaS offers a third party solution to our strategic business partners looking for a powerful online site to connect with customers that can also be branded and updated easily."

For customers, the site provides innovative features such as guest sending and MoneyGram's "Track a Transfer" tool when they need to send money to any of MoneyGram's estimated 350,000 locations as well as bank accounts around the globe through Walmart.Moneygram.com.

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