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OxiClean looks to hit home run with new contest

BY Allison Cerra

PRINCETON, N.J. — Stain remover OxiClean has teamed up with Laura Posada, wife of Major League Baseball star Jorge Posada, to give hometown sports leagues the chance to win $10,000 for their organization.

OxiClean is promoting its "Brighten Up Your Ball Game" contest on the brand’s recently launched Facebook page. Consumers can enter their own story and photo on the page to explain why their child’s softball or baseball organization needs help from OxiClean to brighten up their game. The contest will run through May 31.

"We’re excited to announce the OxiClean Brighten Up Your Ball Game contest, and even more excited to see the stories and photos that parents submit on Facebook," said Craig Sheehan, OxiClean brand director at Church & Dwight. "OxiClean has been a trusted stain fighter for sports parents in helping them with their cleaning needs, and now we want to help little athletes too by giving them the opportunity to play a cleaner ball game."

Click here for more details about the Brighten Up Your Ball Game contest, including official rules and regulations.

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Delhaize America sees slight Q1 sales gain

BY Allison Cerra

SALISBURY, N.C. — First-quarter revenue for Delhaize America, the U.S. sector of the Delhaize Group, which includes such supermarket banners as Food Lion and Bottom Dollar, experienced a 0.1% increase to nearly $4.7 billion, the company reported.

Comparable-store sales for the quarter ended March 31 dropped by 0.3%, but marked a continued trend improvement for the third consecutive quarter. Operating profit for the quarter decreased by 13% to $216 million, which was attributed to an increase in selling; general and administrative expenses as a result of new stores contribution; more store remodels; higher repair and maintenance expenses; fees for increased electronic payments in the United States; and costs related to specific projects, such as the common procurement initiative and expenses related to strategic sales building initiatives at Food Lion and Bottom Dollar Food. These expenses partly were offset by continued cost savings.

Commenting on the financial results, Delhaize Group president and CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said that the company is on track to achieving its goals and that its U.S. operations would relaunch the Food Lion banner in the Raleigh, N.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., markets.

As part of the relaunch, the banner also will be involved in several sales building initiatives, such operational enhancements as staffing and process improvements, product handling and replenishment improvements in the produce department, increased SKU counts, improved price positioning, and an easy and convenient shopping experience. Over the next months, Food Lion closely will monitor the success of these initiatives in order to ensure that both markets will provide valuable learnings for the upcoming rollout in the rest of the network to begin in 2012, Delhaize said.

“Today, we have relaunched around 200 Food Lion stores in the Raleigh and Chattanooga markets that will serve as phase one of the fundamental repositioning work focused on the brand elements of price, assortment and shopping experience," Beckers said of the company’s U.S. operations. "Helped by what we learn from this first phase, we will roll out the repositioning work to the large majority of the Food Lion network by the end of 2012.”

By the end of the quarter, Delhaize America operated 1,635 supermarkets, eight locations above the year-ago period.

Delhaize America recently appointed Don Hodge as its CEO.

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Walgreens comps rise for April

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Sales for Walgreens during the month of April edged up 5.5%, thanks to a boost in both front-end and pharmacy sectors.

The drug store chain said that total front-end sales experienced a 9.4% boost, while comparable front-end sales benefited from the later Easter holiday with a 6.5% increase.

On the pharmacy front, sales increased 3.5%, while comparable-pharmacy sales increased 1.8%, accounting for 64.4% of total sales for the month. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 2.3% in April. Calendar day shifts, however, negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 1.9 percentage points, Walgreens reported, adding that the recent over-the-counter switch of allergy drug Allegra negatively impacted prescriptions filled by 0.3 percentage point.

Customer traffic in comparable stores increased 2.3%, while basket size increased 4.2%.

April sales in overall comparable stores increased 3.4% for the chain, which was negatively impacted by 1.2 percentage points due to the calendar day shift. On a combined basis, comparable-store sales for the March/April period rose 3.3%, marking a 6.7% rise from the same two months in 2010. Additionally, comparable-store front-end sales for the combined March/April period increased by 4.1%, while customer traffic in comparable stores increased 1.6% and basket size increased 2.5%.

Duane Reade stores are not included in any comparable-store results, Walgreens noted.

Walgreens noted that its overall April sales rose to nearly $6 billion for the month, compared with about $5.7 billion in April 2010, and attributed a 0.7 percentage point contribution from Duane Reade.

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