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People in the News

BY Alaric DeArment

Dave Van Howe is joining Market Performance Group, a strategy consulting and sales representation firm, as SVP and retail adviser, working on go-to-market initiatives with suppliers and retailers. Van Howe most recently served as VP purchasing and new business development for Walgreens.

Gary Downing began his new job as CEO of Insight Pharmaceuticals, the maker of such OTC brands as Anacin and Dermarest, on Feb. 15, following Insight’s announcement the week before. Previously, Downing was CEO of breast-feeding product maker Lansinoh for nearly eight years. Prior to Lansinoh, Downing was a cofounder of OTC brand marketing company Medtech, as well as serving in positions at Gillette’s Oral-B Labs and Richardson-Vicks.

Neil Donnenfeld has been named as CEO and director of Advanced Vision Research, which announced his appointment on Feb. 8. Donnenfeld, who had previously served as AVR’s SVP global sales and marketing since 2005, succeeds founder Jeffrey Gilbard, who died in a bicycling accident in August. The company is known for the TheraTears product line.

Former Rite Aid and CVS executive Phil Keough has joined LearnSomething as chief business development officer, overseeing development and distribution of compliance, operational and sales-performance products, and services for retailers. Keough had served at Rite Aid for six years as SVP pharmacy operations and most recently ran his own pharmacy management consulting company, Keoco.

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Bashas’ rejects Albertsons’ buyout bid

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Bashas’ has turned down a nearly $300 million buyout offer from Albertsons, according to published reports.

According to an American City Business Journals article, the Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas’ was uninterested in a buyout offer of $290 million for the chain.

Bashas’ filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, announcing the following month that it would close 14 stores. Still, the published reports quoted an attorney representing the company as saying that the reorganization plan would ensure Bashas’ remained in the hands of the Bashas family, which has owned it since 1932.

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Shoppers’ new initiatives sets chain up to become retail giant

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT While the decision to move in this direction may have been made before Chong Bang crossed the border, there is no questioning that industry watchers will be focused on what SDM’s new top merchant will do to further improve the stores.

(THE NEWS: Shoppers Drug Mart takes a page out of CCR playbook. For the full story, click here)

That has a lot to do with Bang’s pedigree — he’s directed a significant merchandising program at Walgreens, one of the leading pureplay pharmacies in the United States. And now he’s at Shoppers, the leading drug store retailer north of the border.

Bang will be armed at Shoppers with the sales data generated by 9.7 million members of the pharmacy’s Optimum loyalty program, 80% of whom are women. When you consider that there are only 34 million Canadians, that means that almost 1-in-3 Canadians are members of Shoppers’ loyalty program, and almost 1-in-2 Canadian women.

Presently, Shoppers plans to grow its square footage at a clip of 8% to 9% with a new distribution center slated to open in 2010 to help support that growth. And that’s really going to be Bang’s merchandising challenge — finding a way to slip one more item into that Shoppers marketbasket in a saturated marketplace. Bang certainly can’t build front-end sales by attracting new customers. There just aren’t that many Canadians who don’t already shop at Shoppers.

For Bang, it’ll be a question of optimizing categorical synergies and in doing so help drive impulse purchases. Similar to Walgreens, Shoppers is on a mission to make a good shopping experience better, and Bang’s expected to help realize that goal.

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