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Mintel: High-income households shop at dollar stores

BY Marianne Wilson

CHICAGO — Dollar stores are not just for lower- and middle-income shoppers. In fact, half (50%) of respondents from the highest-income households ($150,000-plus) say that they are shopping at dollar stores the same amount this year compared with last year, with 10% saying they are doing so more than last year, according to new research from Mintel. Only 32% of respondents from the highest-income households claim not to shop at dollar stores.

“Dollar and discount stores benefit from continued consumer caution regarding spending, as well as an improved level of acceptance and satisfaction of the products offered and the shopping experience in these channels," said Ali Lipson, retail analyst at Mintel. "However, some consumers do have a perception of lesser quality offered at these retailers, thus choosing other channels over dollar and discount stores. In order to reverse this perception, dollar and discount stores need to promote brand-name offerings to those who are unaware that well-known brands are offered at these stores. "

Some 78% of dollar-store shoppers say that stores are conveniently located, and almost three-quarters (74%) of shoppers think that dollar stores offer better prices than other retailers. But convenience and price aren’t the only features driving consumers to dollar  stores: 59% of respondents say these stores are pleasant to shop in, while 54% believe brands and products sold at dollar stores are just as good as other retailers.

However, income shoppers do have an issue with the brands and products sold. Dollar store shoppers who live in households earning less than $25K are satisfied with the selection (64%), while only 34% of those in $150K+ households find the brands and products at dollar stores just as good as other retailers.

Younger men and women, those ages 18 years to 34 years, are more likely than those in other age groups to say they are shopping at dollar stores more often this year compared to last year (33% of men and 31% of women versus 24% of all respondents).

"Younger consumers are an important group to target for dollar and discount stores. This group is likely to be from lower-income households, as many may be students and others who are starting out in their careers and could benefit from the discount prices and convenience of these venues," Lipson said.

 

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Delhaize Europe CEO Stefan Descheemaeker resigns

BY Alaric DeArment

BRUSSELS — The CEO of Delhaize Group’s European division has resigned, effective Oct. 31, the Belgian supermarket operator said.

Delhaize said Stefan Descheemaeker had decided to resign as CEO of Delhaize Europe, though the company did not give a reason. Delhaize said that as a result of Descheemaeker’s departure, Delhaize Group EVP and Delhaize Group Southeast Europe and Asia CEO Kostas Macheras would report directly to group CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers, as would Delhaize Belgium CEO Dirk Van den Berghe, effective Nov. 1.

"I want to thank Stefan for his significant contribution to the success of Delhaize Europe and Delhaize Group," Beckers said. "In both his former capacity as CFO and then as CEO of Delhaize Europe, Stefan has been an energetic leader who raises the organization’s focus on cash-flow generation and brought the company to a higher level of performance while steadfastly promoting the company values."

Incoming group CEO Frans Muller said he looked forward to working with Macheras and Van den Berghe in developing the company’s European business.

"Equally, I look forward to partnering with our group CFO, Pierre Bouchut, so that we can continue improving the focus and performance of the overall group," Muller said. "This will be amongst my key priorities in addition to working directly with the Delhaize America team while I evaluate and search for the best candidate to fill the Delhaize America CEO role."

 

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Walmart, Lowe’s join Pacific Business Group on Health to launch Employers Centers of Excellence Network

BY Mike Troy

SAN FRANCISCO — With the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mired in controversy, two of the nation’s largest retailers are backing an innovative Employers Centers of Excellence Network that will offer no-cost knee and hip-replacement surgeries at four highly regarded hospitals.

Walmart and Lowe’s issued a joint statement that they and other large employers had joined the Pacific Business Group on Health Negotiating Alliance (PBGH-NA) to launch the national Employer’s Centers of Excellence Network.

“These companies are working to help make sure that their employees get higher quality care and incur lower costs,” said David Lansky, president and CEO of PBGH. “The Employers Centers of Excellence Network is designed to serve as a model for delivering high quality health care with transparent and predictable costs.”

PBGH and healthcare management company Health Design Plus will oversee the program, which includes treatment for knee and hip replacement surgeries for the more than 1.5 million employees and their dependents enrolled in the Walmart, Lowe’s and other employers’ medical plans. The only catch for employees is that they required to obtain care at 1-of-4 designated center of excellence healthcare organizations that include Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.; Kaiser Permanente Orange County Irvine Medical Center in Irvine, Calif.; Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo.; and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. 

Employees will receive consultations and care covered at 100% without deductible or coinsurance, plus travel, lodging and living expenses for the patient and a caregiver. Patients must be healthy enough to travel for the surgeries. The program is voluntary and employees or their covered dependents can still choose to receive care from local providers and incur routine costs, according to program rules.
 
“This national program is about providing our associates with exceptional care and reducing their medical costs so that they pay nothing out of pocket when they use one of the designated facilities,” said Sally Welborn, SVP global benefits at Walmart. ”Each of these providers has a proven record of practicing evidence-based medicine with above average positive patient outcomes in knee and hip replacement procedures.”

According to Lowe’s VP international human resources Randy Moon, “Under this program, employees and their dependents covered under Lowe’s medical plan have access to medical care at renowned medical facilities at no cost. This is especially important for our employees who live in areas underserved by high quality health care providers. The four healthcare centers are located throughout the United States, making it easier for employees who wish to use this benefit to travel.”
 
The national Employers Centers of Excellence Network complements Centers of Excellence programs that Walmart and Lowe’s have and will continue to offer separately from the alliance with PBGH-NA.  
 
In 2013, Walmart expanded its long-standing program covering transplants at the Mayo Clinic to also include treatment for certain heart and spine surgeries at five leading hospital and health systems in the United States, including ECEN providers Virginia Mason and Mercy Springfield, for associates and their covered dependents enrolled in medical plans.
 
In 2010, Lowe’s began an alliance with Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, to provide its full-time employees and their covered dependents enrolled in the company’s self-funded medical plans enhanced benefits coverage for qualifying heart surgery procedures.

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