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Loblaw Q2 results beat expectations

BY Vivian Gomez

BRAMPTON, Ontario — Despite a still-challenging economic climate, Loblaw’s profit in the second quarter beat analysts’ expectations, and was bolstered by strong sales in its recently acquired Shoppers Drug Mart.

Sales at the pharmacy and beauty retailer, which contributed to Loblaw’s net sales for the first time this quarter, accounted for more than a quarter of the food retailer’s total sales of C$10.31 billion in the quarter.

"The second quarter of 2014 marked the opening of the next chapter for Loblaw, combining the number one food retailer in Canada with the number one pharmacy and beauty retailer," said president and executive chairman Galen G. Weston. "For the balance of the year, we expect to continue to improve our competitive positioning, advance our businesses and realize material synergies related to the transaction."

Loblaw’s revenue for the quarter was C$10.31 billion, an increase of 37.1% compared to the prior-year quarter. Excluding Shoppers Drug Mart, revenue increased by 2.4% compared to last year’s quarter.

Retail sales growth was 37% compared to the prior-year quarter. Excluding Shoppers Drug Mart, retail sales growth was 1.6% and same-store sales growth was 1.8%. Retail same-store sales growth was positively affected by approximately 0.1% due to the shift in the timing of Easter.

Shoppers Drug Mart sales were $2.7 billion during the quarter. On a same-store basis, Shoppers Drug Mart sales increased 2.5% over last year’s second quarter. On a same-store basis, pharmacy sales increased 2.5% and front store sales increased 2.4% over the prior-year quarter.

The company realized net synergies of approximately $8 million in the quarter associated with the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart.

With the upgrade of its information technology infrastructure, the company expects to complete the conversion of its corporate grocery stores to a perpetual inventory management system in 2014. The implementation of a perpetual inventory system, combined with visibility to integrated costing information provided by the new IT systems enables the company to estimate the cost of inventory using a more precise system-generated average cost.

In the last 12 months, the company opened 22 corporate and franchise stores and closed 12 corporate and franchise stores, resulting in a net increase of 0.4 million sq. ft., or 0.8%. During the second quarter, Shoppers Drug Mart opened two new drugstores and closed five smaller pharmacy format stores.

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FDA approves GSK’s Flonase as an OTC treatment

BY Ryan Chavis

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — GlaxoSmithKline on Thursday announced that the Food and Drug Administration has approved Flonase Allergy Relief (fluticasone propionate 50 mcg spray), as an over-the-counter treatment for temporary relief of the symptoms of hay fever or upper respiratory allergies.

Around 50 million people in the United States suffer from nasal allergies, and in 2010, Americans with allergic rhintis spent approximately $17.5 billion on health-related costs, according to GSK. Additionally, they lost more than 6 million work and school days and made more than 16 million visits to the doctor.

“With the significant number of allergy sufferers in the United States and a considerable number of those unsatisfied with their current treatments, we believe the wide availability of Flonase Allergy Relief over the counter is great news for these individuals," said Colin Mackenzie, president of Consumer Healthcare North America at GSK. "GSK has a strong heritage — 40 years — in discovering and developing respiratory treatments used by patients worldwide.  We are proud of our track record of successful Rx-to-OTC switches, which over the years have significantly improved access to important medicines for our consumers.”

Flonase Allergy Relief will be available over-the-counter in early 2015.

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Abbott introduces new Similac Breastfeeding Supplement

BY Raven Romero

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. — Abbott, the makers of Similac, studied the diets of more than 80 lactating women to assess how their nutritional intake compared to dietary recommendations. In the study, only one out of 10 breastfeeding moms on average got 100% of the desired levels for DHA, lutein and vitamin E from their diet.

Abbott's new Similac Breastfeeding Supplement is specially designed to enhance the levels of those key nutrients in breast milk, which are important for nourishing baby's brain and eyes. The supplement should be taken with a prenatal vitamin or multivitamin to help fill moms' dietary gaps.

″Moms are first encouraged to focus on food to obtain ideal nutrition,” said Christina Sherry, Abbott Research Scientist who led the study. ″But as demonstrated by our study, the reality is that many women find it difficult to eat a well-balanced diet while adjusting to caring for a newborn. And even though many women may continue to take a prenatal vitamin during this time, many prenatal vitamins do not have, or have enough, DHA, lutein and vitamin E.”

The clinical evidence showed moms who took one Similac Breastfeeding Supplement a day had increased levels of DHA, lutein and vitamin E in their breast milk compared to mothers who did not take the supplement.

The Similac Breastfeeding Supplement is available at Babies″R″Us and contains a 30-day supply for $9.99.

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