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Para’s Estrin starts Sekea Capital consulting firm

BY Antoinette Alexander

EAST ROCKAWAY, N.Y. Former president of Queen Helene manufacturer Para Laboratories, Steven Estrin, recently started Sekea Capital, LLC, a consulting company to help manufactures gain distribution in food, drug and mass, in addition to the beauty trade.

With more than 20 years experience working with all types of retailers in all classes of trade, Sekea Capital was developed to help any sized manufacturer or marketer in the consumer packaged goods industry navigate the challenging retail environment. The company is available on either a project-by-project basis or on longer-term arrangements.

Some specific services include setting up a broker network for retail, health food or beauty supply stores; help with closeouts and moving excess inventory quickly and quietly; and EDI expertise for both in-house and external programs.

Estrin served as president of Para Laboratories from 1995 to March 2006. Para was the manufacturer of Queen Helene, Batherapy and Footherapy brands of personal care products. In March 2006, Para was sold to The Hain Celestial Group.

Since the sale of Para to The Hain Celestial Group, Estrin has been the vice president of sales for retail and beauty.

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Smith to retire at end of 2008, CVS announces executive moves

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS announced on Wednesday announced several executive moves, including the retirement of Kevin Smith, senior vice president of supply chain and logistics, at the end of 2008.

Smith has been with CVS for the past eight years and made numerous contributions to the organization, including the integration of six new distribution centers.

Until his retirement, Smith will remain with CVS as the head of its Environmental Leadership Council to help build the foundation for the company’s environmental and sustainability practices. He will drive the assessment of the company’s environmental footprint, identify risks and opportunities, and help set short- and long-term goals in this area.

In other moves, Ron Link has been promoted to senior vice president of logistics, reporting to Larry Merlo, president of CVS—Retail. He will be responsible for leading the company’s logistics division in managing inventory and capacity, developing distribution solutions and providing best in class logistics service to CVS’ 6,300 stores.

Link joined CVS in 1994 as the director of the Lumberton, N.J., distribution center. He was promoted to vice president of logistics in 1999. Hi accomplishments during his career at CVS including leading the integration of 11 acquired distribution centers while driving strategies to improve service to CVS stores.

Dana Lilly has been promoted to vice president of distribution operations, reporting to Link. Lilly most recently served as the regional director of distribution operations. In his new role, Lilly will be responsible for all distribution center operations in the company’s 15 facilities, logistics planning and optimizing transportation effectiveness, including the development of strategies to drive service levels, order quality and on-time performance to CVS stores.

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Walgreens posts modest June gains

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens drove sales ahead by 9.9 percent in June, compared with the same month last year, and eked out a respectable, if not stellar, 3.4 percent gain in same-store sales for the period. At the front end of the store, comp-store sales were up 3.5 percent over June of 2007.

In an increasingly difficult climate for retail sales and consumer spending, Walgreens’ sales last month topped out at $4.81 billion. June front-end sales were helped in part by strong sales of promotional products, consumables and gift cards, the company reported today.

Also driving demand at the front of the store was Zyrtec, which recently switched from prescription to over-the-counter status. Zyrtec alone accounted for 0.5 percentage points of front-end gains, Walgreens revealed. But the shift of Zyrtec from prescription to over-the-counter status also drained the company’s same-store pharmacy sales by 0.6 percent.

On the negative side, front-end sales were hurt by comparisons to last year’s introduction in June of alli, the over-the-counter diet medication, and promotional pricing in the photofinishing department.

June pharmacy sales rose 9.7 percent, while comparable pharmacy sales increased 3.3 percent—anemic by Walgreens’ historic standards. Dragging comp-store performance at the pharmacy were generic drug introductions, which yield generally higher margins but lower top-line sales.

“Comparable pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 2.1 percentage points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months,” Walgreens reported.

Total prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 0.8 percent.

Calendar 2008 sales were $29.71 billion, an increase of 10.4 percent over 2007. Fiscal 2008 year-to-date sales for the 10 months were $49.25 billion, up 10.1 percent from the same period last year. Comp-store sales for the fiscal year to date increased 4.4 percent.

Walgreens said it opened 50 drug stores during June, including seven relocations, acquired three stores and closed one. ?As of June 30, the company operated 6,772 locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

That figure includes 6,297 drug stores, 544 more than a year ago. The company also operates worksite health centers, home care facilities and specialty, institutional and mail service pharmacies. Its Take Care Health Systems subsidiary manages 183 convenient care clinics at Walgreens drug stores. Franchisees of Option Care, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walgreens, are not included in Walgreens’ location or store count.

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