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Procter & Gamble, Mobeam partner on mobile couponing system

BY Antoinette Alexander

SAN FRANCISCO — Procter & Gamble is partnering with technology company Mobeam to bring the first-ever fully mobile couponing system to market.

The innovation, created by mobeam of California, makes electronic coupons presented on a phone or other mobile device scannable, so shoppers need only their phones or handhelds, not a stack of coupons, at checkout.

Couponing represents a growing $3.7 billion segment of the consumer packaged goods market in North America, with more than 300 billion coupons distributed every year and redemption on the increase as consumers strive for greater value and savings. And while smartphones are supporting users and simplifying life in a host of new ways, until now, phone couponing has not been an option because bar codes displayed on mobile phone screens are invisible to commonly used in-store laser scanners.

Mobeam technology converts — or mobeams — the bar code data into a beam of light that can be read by bar code scanners already found at store checkout counters. No additional point-of-sale equipment is needed.

P&G developed a partnership with mobeam through P&G’s open innovation Connect+Develop program. The P&G and mobeam partnership is aimed at exploring and testing a new method for consumers to redeem — and retailers to accept — coupons at the point of sale.

The next step in the partnership is to work with the mobile communications industry to add the mobeam application into handheld phones and then to test the application and process with shoppers and selected retailers.

Mobeam is working with handset manufacturers to engineer its light-based communications technology into new lines of handsets. P&G, mobeam and other partners expect to test the technology in market in 2012.

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CVS/pharmacy reaches out to last-minute holiday shoppers

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — With Christmas less than a week away, CVS Caremark is reminding shoppers that they can find gifts and deals at their local CVS/pharmacy.

With a larger-than-ever selection of gifts in more than 7,300 stores nationwide, customers will find everything from gift wrap and decorations for the home, to gifts that fit every budget and personality. This year’s options range from such classics as bath-and-body products and stocking stuffers to items like speaker towers for iPhone and iPod users, handheld video camcorders, small appliances and many of the hottest children’s toys, which many shoppers might not realize they can find easily at their local CVS/pharmacy.

"Last-minute shoppers can head to CVS/pharmacy this week to find great deals on a variety of gift options," stated Judy Sansone, SVP merchandising for CVS/pharmacy. "With extended holiday hours at nearly all of our 7,300 stores, CVS/pharmacy is the perfect place to find gifts and holiday necessities without the hassle."

Many CVS/pharmacy locations are offering extended holiday hours this week, and most 24-hour stores will remain open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In addition, shoppers heading to CVS/pharmacy now through Christmas for gifts and other essentials also can earn up to $50 in free gift cards. Through Dec. 25, members of CVS/pharmacy’s ExtraCare Rewards program can earn free $10 gift cards to Macy’s, Gap, Applebee’s, Shell Stations, American Express, Barnes & Noble or CVS/pharmacy by spending $30 on specially marked items found in the weekly CVS/pharmacy circular.

CVS/pharmacy also is reminding customers to check out the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages for exclusive social media offers and contests. Facebook community members can take the "Holiday Shopping Quiz" to earn a 20% off shopping pass before they head to the store. Additionally, shoppers can follow CVS/pharmacy ExtraCare on Twitter to learn about deals and get last-minute gift suggestions.

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Bi-Lo buys big with proposed Winn-Dixie merger

BY Michael Johnsen

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie Stores on Monday announced that the companies will merge to create an organization of approximately 690 grocery stores and 63,000 employees in eight states throughout the southeastern United States.

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, BI-LO will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Winn-Dixie stock in the merger. Winn-Dixie shareholders will receive $9.50 in cash per share of Winn-Dixie common stock, representing a premium of approximately 75% over the closing price of Winn-Dixie common stock on Dec. 16.

“With no overlap in our markets, the combined company will have a perfect geographic fit that will create a stronger platform from which to provide our customers great products at a great value, while continuing to offer exceptional service," stated BI-LO chairman Randall Onstead. BI-LO and Winn-Dixie do not currently expect any store closures as a result of the combination, the companies noted. "BI-LO and Winn-Dixie are both strong regional brands with similar heritages.”

“This transaction with BI-LO provides Winn-Dixie shareholders with a significant cash premium for their shares. We believe this transaction is in the best interests of our shareholders,” commented Peter Lynch, chairman, CEO and president of Winn-Dixie. “By combining BI-LO and Winn-Dixie, we anticipate building a company that is stronger than our individual businesses and creating opportunities for continued advancement through the cross-pollination of our people and the sharing of ideas across our organizations, all to the benefit of our guests, suppliers, team members and the neighborhoods that Winn-Dixie serves.”

The transaction is currently expected to close in the next 60 to 120 days, subject to the approval of Winn-Dixie shareholders and other customary closing conditions, including expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The transaction is not subject to any financing condition. Following the completion of the merger, Winn-Dixie will become a privately-held, wholly owned subsidiary of BI-LO and Winn-Dixie’s common stock will cease trading on the NASDAQ.

Until the merger is complete, both BI-LO and Winn-Dixie will continue to operate as separate companies.

Following completion of the merger, it is anticipated that the companies will continue to operate under the BI-LO and Winn-Dixie banners, the grocers stated.

The combined company’s executive management team structure and headquarters location will be decided as the companies move closer to finalizing the transaction; however, it is expected that the combined company will maintain a presence in both Greenville, S.C. and Jacksonville, Fla.

 

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