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March sales down 2% across Fred’s Super Dollar

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Super Dollar on Thursday reported total sales of $190.4 million for the five weeks ended April 6, down 2% from the comparable year-ago period. 

Comparable store sales for the month decreased 3% compared with flat store sales in the same period last year.

"We expected that March general merchandising sales would be adversely affected by unseasonably cool weather and the timing of the Easter holiday, both of which affected two of our key reconfiguration departments — lawn and garden and seasonal," stated Fred’s CEO Bruce Efird. "The pharmacy department continued to produce strong comparable script growth, but that was offset by the ongoing brand-to-generic shift, which resulted in lower overall pharmacy sales — a trend that we will see throughout most of the year," he added. "We are optimistic about April sales as the spring seasonal sales kick in and our operational expense initiatives take hold. All of these factors were anticipated as we developed our guidance for the first quarter."

 

 

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Kroger to assemble 17,000 food boxes with almost 5,000 associates for Louisville, Ky.

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday announced plans to bring together more than 4,800 associates at the Kentucky Exposition Center on April 16 to assemble an estimated 17,000 emergency food and personal care boxes for the metro community of Louisville, Ky.

According to calculation tables established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the boxes will represent approximately 136,000 meals. Kroger also will be packing an estimated 8,500 family boxes containing shampoo, toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, deodorant and other supplies. The collective retail value of these boxes will be more than $212,000.

The effort will represent the largest, one-day volunteer effort by a single company to support the Dare to Care Food Bank, Kroger’s local Feeding America partner.

The event will take place during the Louisville community’s second annual ‘Give A Day’ volunteer week of public service, April 13 to 21. In a recent press conference, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer cited Kroger’s planned efforts as playing a prominent role in helping break the community’s own 2012 "world record" of 90,000 volunteers and acts of compassion. The Kroger event alone will contribute an estimated 7,500 volunteer hours toward Fischer’s goal for 2013.

"Last year … Kroger delivered the largest contribution of food and funds in our company history — the equivalent of nearly 200 million meals — to Feeding America and its local food banks," stated Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s group VP corporate affairs. 

With a distribution network that includes more than 300 local food pantries, shelters and assistance organizations, Dare to Care Food Bank will be distributing the emergency food and personal care boxes to needy families throughout their 13-county metropolitan Louisville service area. 

"This incredible donation comes at a time when the demand for food assistance has never been higher," said Brian Riendeau, Dare to Care Food Bank’s executive director. 

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Healthcare industry could learn from supply-chain practices of retail industry, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

FAYATTEVILLE, Ark. — The healthcare industry’s supply chain may have a few tips and tricks to pick up from the retail industry’s supply chain, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Arkansas.

The researchers, led by industrial engineering professor Edward Pohl, surveyed 96 healthcare industry managers, mostly hospital providers, and 20 retailing managers, finding that the retail industry has done better at collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment, which involves suppliers and retailers working together to adopt order forecasting and inventory planning to create an integrated supply-chain network. The managers working in retail were all from Walmart, Pohl told Drug Store News, and respondents also included vendors and manufacturers.

"The retail industry has a long history of adopting automation, complemented by scientific and mathematical models, to improve supply-chain operations," Pohl said. "Conversely, health care has been relatively slow to adopt these methods. Based on survey responses, we believe that considerable efficiency gains might be available to the healthcare supply chain through the adoption of best practices from the retail supply chain."

The researchers drew up an initial list of 22 best practices based on a review of existing literature and guidance from a steering committee of industrial leaders. Based on the steering committee’s review, they narrowed the list down to 10 best practices: centralized purchasing and supply; supply chain services reorganization; regular cycle counting and stock rotation; performance management; actual usage inventory management; e-commerce; and data standardization.

Larger retail stores and hospitals were found to be more likely to have implemented best practices, and across both industries, 80% of respondents thought the identified best practices had a significant or very significant effect on business. Meanwhile, 40% of retail respondents perceived implementation of best practices as easy or very easy, while most healthcare respondents perceived implementation as easy, as well as cheaper and requiring a lower minimum rate of return.

"This may indicate that the healthcare industry is underestimating the investment necessary to achieve the full benefits from some of the best practices," said another researcher, Vijith Varghese.

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