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Shopko expands with completed merger

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

GREEN BAY, Wis. — General merchandise retailers Shopko and Pamida have completed their merger that will create a $3 billion company that serves largely rural communities in 22 states.

The combined entity will retain the Shopko name. Shopko will be headquartered in Green Bay and Pamida’s corporate headquarters in Omaha, Neb., will be consolidated into the Green Bay office over the next several months.

The company said that Shopko chief Paul Jones will lead the entire company as president, chairman and CEO. Pamida CEO John Harlow will serve on the leadership team and help direct the integration process.

“Our aim is to combine the best of both companies as we become one Shopko team with a shared vision to become the nation’s leading general merchandise retailer focused on serving smaller communities across the country with our Shopko Hometown store format,” Jones said.

A store conversion plan calls for all Pamida stores to be converted to the Shopko Hometown store format by the end of 2012. Six Pamida stores will not go through conversion and will be closed in August.

The Shopko Hometown retail format, developed over the past three years to augment Shopko’s larger store model, offers a merchandising strategy that combines pharmacy services with a broad offering of national brands and private label brands of apparel, home furnishings, toys, consumer electronics, seasonal items, and lawn and garden products. Size ranges from 15,000 sq. ft. to 35,000 sq. ft.

Shopko announced approximately $80 million will be invested into Pamida store conversions which will begin in June and occur in phases through the end of the year. Each individual store conversion will take approximately five-six weeks from start to finish and will include new interior and exterior signage, updated supplemented fixtures, improved store design and layout, as well as an expanded merchandise mix.

“Over the past two years, seven Pamida stores have already been successfully transitioned to the Shopko Hometown format,” Jones said. “We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers in these communities who tell us they appreciate the improved shopping experience and access to a broader, differentiated selection of merchandise, including products and brands previously not available in their community.”

Once Pamida’s chain-wide conversions are complete, the company plans to accelerate the addition of new Shopko Hometown stores in the second half of 2012 and into 2013. There will be no change to Shopko’s current 149 stores.

Shopko is owned by affiliates of Sun Capital Partners.

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Sam’s Club launches wellness magazine for members

BY Allison Cerra

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club is taking its promotion of health-and-wellness solutions further by launching its own branded, bimonthly magazine.

Sam’ Club said its 8-million member circulation magazine, Healthy Living Made Simple, is the first warehouse club publication solely dedicated to health-and-wellness issues. Topics covered by the publication include items related to personal, child and pet health. Future issues will spotlight local Sam’s Club pharmacists, optometrists and associates, as well as members’ stories, Sam’s Club said.

The company said 7.4 million magazines will be sent to members’ homes, while 600,000 copies will be available in stores.

“At Sam’s Club, we want to build awareness for the benefits of health maintenance and provide wellness solutions for every community we serve,” said Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP health and wellness for Sam’s Club. “Along with our health and wellness products and the services we offer, such as free health screenings through the year, this magazine takes that partnership to the next level. When we help our members stay healthy, it also helps them reduce their healthcare costs – a big concern in today’s economy.”

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Publix reports Q4, full-year results

BY Allison Cerra

LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix reported a 13.4% increase in its fourth-quarter sales to $7.2 billion, the retailer said Thursday.

Net earnings for fourth quarter 2011 were $399.5 million, compared to $342.1 million in 2010, an increase of 16.8%. Comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter increased 5.3%.

Meanwhile, earnings per share were 51 cents, up from 44 cents per share in 2010.

For the 53-week year ended Dec. 31, Publix’s sales were $27 billion, a 7.3% increase from last year’s $25.1 billion, a 52-week year. The additional week in 2011 increased sales by 1.9%. Comparable-store sales for 2011 increased 4.1%.

“I’m pleased that our strong operating performance and improvements in the stock market resulted in an increase in our stock price,” Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw said. “Our associate owners deserve the credit for these results as they continue to make us a leader in customer service.”

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