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Safeway: Higher profit in the works for 2012

BY Allison Cerra

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway is projecting that 2012 will be a good year for the retailer.

The company said ahead of an investor conference held Tuesday that it forecasts earnings per share will be in the range of $1.90 to $2.10 per diluted share. This compared with net income of $1.49 per diluted share in fiscal 2011, due to a tax charge 29 cents per diluted share. Excluding the charge, diluted earnings per share would have been $1.78 in fiscal 2011.

"We made progress in 2011 on a number of initiatives. We built out an internal technology platform for our digital marketing program, just for U; we continued to achieve significant cost reduction; we maintained price parity; our consumer brands team created another $100 million brand with Open Nature; Blackhawk delivered another year of double-digit growth and we returned $1.7 billion in cash to shareholders," Safeway chairman, president and CEO Steve Burd said. "With 87% of our store base remodeled into Lifestyle stores, we believe we have the freshest asset base in the supermarket industry. When you combine all this with our differentiated offering, we believe we are very well positioned for future growth."

In late February, Safeway reported that overall sales for 2011 were up 6.3% and identical-store sales, including fuel, were up 4.4% for the year.

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Giant-Carlisle launches mobile app

BY Alaric DeArment

CARLISLE, Pa. — A supermarket chain in the Northeast is the latest to enter the mobile application game.

Giant Food Stores, based in Carlisle, Pa., announced the launch of a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices that it said syncs with a customer’s BonusCard, provides access to an online account and allows customers to check point totals for Gas Extra Rewards and A+ School Rewards and view personalized savings offers.

"More customers are relying on the convenience that technology can offer, and we are committed to bringing that innovation to our customers and to our stores," Giant president Rick Herring said. "The launch of a mobile app is a natural extension to the suite of technologies we currently offer in store."

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Bartell launches teddy bear drive for kids

BY Alaric DeArment

SEATTLE — Bartell Drugs is accepting donations of teddy bears for children in stressful and traumatic situations at its stores as part of a program set to last through the first of April, the regional chain said Monday.

Bartell’s, which operates 58 stores in and around Seattle, said customers could buy an official "Bartell Bear" for $7 or donate a new or gently used teddy bear less than 12-in. size for the "Teddy Bear Patrol" campaign. The company is teaming up with local radio station Warm 106.9 FM for the effort.

The drive also includes special collection events at three of the chain’s stores.

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