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Senators seek new supplement regulations

BY Michael Johnsen

Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., last month introduced a bill—the Dietary Supplement Act of 2010—that would place greater restrictions on the supplement industry. McCain pointed to the current steroid stigma attached to Major League Baseball and other professional sports as one impetus behind the new bill.

The crux of the issue from an industry perspective: Why impose additional regulation and administrative costs on law-abiding supplement manufacturers when the current regulations have never really been proven as either adequate or inadequate?

Both politicians and supplement manufacturers appear to be hovering around the same goal: remove nefarious players who are tainting the supplement industry from general distribution. The difference? Several Congress leaders have suggested that the Food and Drug Administration lacks enforcement teeth, while association members charge that the FDA needs to use the teeth it already has after gumming supplement regulations for more than a decade.

At issue are what the industry considers redundant requirements that dietary supplement manufacturers must register with the FDA as well as fully disclose all ingredients in their products. Arming the FDA with mandatory recall authority if a product is found to be “unsafe” or “harmful” is also considered redundant, especially considering the FDA effectively pulled the supplement ephedra off the market in 2004.

The trade associations representing dietary supplement manufacturers long have opposed any tinkering with the Dietary Supplement Health and Regulation Act of 1994. “CRN looks forward to the opportunity to study the legislation and find common ground with the sponsors and supporters of this legislation,” stated Steve Mister, Council for Responsible Nutrition president and CEO.

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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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