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Shoppers Drug Mart reports Q2 sales lift

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO — Canadian retailer Shoppers Drug Mart posted a boost in second-quarter sales, thanks in large part to continued strength and sales growth in over-the-counter medications, cosmetics, and food and confection, the company announced on Thursday.

Second-quarter sales were C$2.39 billion (U.S. $2.52 billion), an increase of 1.4%, compared with the year-ago period. On a same-store basis, total sales increased 0.8% during the quarter.

Front-end sales were C$1.24 billion in the second quarter, an increase of 3.8%, compared with the same period last year, led by continued strength and sales growth in OTC medications, cosmetics, and food and confection. On a same-store basis, front-end sales rose 2.4% during the quarter.

Prescription sales were C$1.15 billion, a decrease of 1%, compared with the same period last year, as continued growth in the number of prescriptions filled was offset by a reduction in average prescription value. On a same-store basis, prescription sales decreased 0.8% during the quarter.

Net earnings were C$148 million, or 68 cents per diluted share, compared with net earnings of C$146 million, or 67 cents per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2010.

"As we continue to work through a difficult year of transition in response to government reform initiatives and the resultant funding and reimbursement pressures this has placed on our pharmacy business, we are encouraged by our performance in the second quarter and our results thus far in fiscal 2011," Shoppers Drug Mart director and interim president and CEO David Williams said.

"We continue to make the necessary adjustments to our business model without compromising on our commitment to deliver the best in patient care and customer service," Williams added. "Our ability to deliver growth in the context of this environment speaks to the dedication and commitment of our associate-owners and their teams at store level whose efforts, along with those of our central and regional office employees, have us well-positioned entering the second half of the year."

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Reckitt Benckiser debuts charity competition on Facebook page

BY Allison Cerra

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Reckitt Benckiser has launched a charity adventure competition on the company’s Facebook page.

The competition, open to students and those early in their careers, offers contestants the opportunity to win such experiences as the chance to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, trek the Great Wall of China, cycle from London to Paris or hike the Inca Trail. The initiative is a continuation of the company’s ‘Global Challenge’ initiative set up in partnership with Save the Children, Reckitt Benckiser said.

"With this competition, we are allowing people outside of RB to participate in a charity challenge normally reserved for employees," stated Rob de Groot, RB EVP for North America and Australia. "This will give young professionals an idea of our charitable and adventure-loving corporate culture and what it’s like to work for RB."

Click here for more information.

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New poll unveils many U.S. consumers prefer organic food

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — It seems that when given the opportunity, more consumers choose organic food over conventionally produced food, according to the latest poll conducted by Thomson Reuters and NPR.

The Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll found that among 3,014 participants interviewed from May 2 to 13, 58% preferred organic food. Additionally, more than two-thirds of consumers ages 35 years and younger, as well as those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, preferred organic food (63% and 64%, respectively).

Breaking down why consumers prefer organic foods, Thomson Reuters and NPR discovered that 36% of consumers said their preference stemmed from their support of local farmer’s markets, while 34% said they wanted to avoid exposure to toxins in nonorganic foods.

"There appears to be a generational difference in preference for organic foods," said Raymond Fabius, chief medical officer at the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. "The strong, positive sentiment among young people indicates they are more concerned with exposure to toxins and place a higher premium on supporting local markets. It stands to reason that, by expanding the network of farmer’s markets, we could see a further groundswell around the support for organic foods."

Click here for the complete survey results.

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