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Rite Aid’s total, same-store sales increase in April

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid reported a 2.9% increase in same-store sales for the month of April, the company said in a monthly sales report Thursday.

The boost included a 2.7% increase in front-end comps and a 3% increase in pharmacy comps, as well as a 3.8% increase in script count. Total drug store sales for the period, which ended Saturday, were nearly $2 billion, a 2.5% increase over the $1.95 billion reported in April 2011.

For the year so far, comps increased by 3.3%, including a 3.6% increase in front-end comps and a 3.1% increase in pharmacy comps, along with a 3.2% increase in script count. Total drug store sales for the eight-week period were about $4 billion, a 2.8% increase over the $3.9 billion reported last year.

The 4,658-store chain also announced that it would buy $405 million in 9.375% senior notes due 2015, which prompted Moody’s to raise the company’s credit rating from Caa2 to Caa1, according to published reports. The company announced in February a plan to refinance its debt by offering $481 million in 9.25% senior notes due 2020, using the proceeds to buy back its 8.625% senior notes due 2015.

Also on Thursday, the Jean Coutu Group, which owns nearly 20% of Rite Aid, announced its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2012 results. For the fourth quarter, which ended March 3, the company had sales of C$737.2 million and profits of C$62 million, compared with C$659.8 million and C$46.5 million in fourth quarter 2011. For fiscal year 2012, the company had sales of C$2.73 billion and profits of C$230 million, compared with C$2.6 billion and C$182.6 million in fiscal year 2011.

Last month, Jean Coutu announced it had reduced its stake in Rite Aid by 24%, selling 56 million of its 234.4 million shares and reducing the number of representatives on Rite Aid’s board from three to two.

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Miracle-Gro introduces Expand ‘n Gro Organic planting mix

BY Allison Cerra

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — Miracle-Gro has launched an organic gardening product in select markets.

Expand ‘n Gro Organic planting mix can be used both in ground and in pots. When used in ground, Expand ‘n Gro works as a soil amendment, improving soil structure and also helps in-ground plants grow up to three times larger, as compared with planting in native soil alone.

"Expand ‘n Gro Organic is an innovative, expandable planting mix that is easy-to-use and enriches soil. Every gardener can significantly increase in-ground and container gardening results with Expand ‘n Gro. Incorporating it helps where soils are heavy clays or sands that are difficult to keep right balance between moisture and air in soil," Miracle-Gro marketing director Amy Gath said.

Miracle-Gro Expand ‘n Gro organic planting mix is available in major retailers throughout Albuquerque, N.M., and Colorado Springs and Denver, Colo., as a 0.67 cubic ft. bag (that expands up to three times, to make 2 cubic ft. of soil) at a suggested retail price of $15.99.

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Weis Markets launches fourth annual ‘Paws for Pets’ program

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Tuesday launched its fourth annual Weis Paws for Pets program, offering customers the opportunity to donate money, pet food and supplies to local animal shelters and rescue organizations in May.

“Our Paws for Pets program is designed to help animal shelters and rescues in the spring when they are inundated with unwanted and abandoned animals,” stated Dennis Curtin, director of public relations. “Our customers have been extremely generous in the past. Last year, we generated more than $98,000 in pet product donations for these organizations and hope to do even better in 2012.”

Approximately 94 local pet shelters and rescue organizations will participate in this year’s program, and 64 stores will host pet adopt-a-thon events with local pet organizations.

The program began Sunday, April 29, and continues through Memorial Day weekend. Paws for Pets will run in all Weis Markets’ stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia.

A new option this year allows customers to make donations when they purchase vouchers for $1, $3 or $5, or Paws for Pets bracelets for $1, with all proceeds donated the local shelters.

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