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Supervalu will continue to focus on value pricing, hyperlocal merchandising in fiscal 2013

BY Michael Johnsen

MINNEAPOLIS — Looking ahead to fiscal 2013, Supervalu will continue its focus on "hyperlocal" merchandising, value-driven pricing and its transformational remodels to build on its momentum coming out of fiscal 2012. "For us momentum is just starting to build," Craig Herkert, Supervalu president and CEO, told analysts Tuesday morning. "We enter the new fiscal year as a leaner company together with a business strategy" that will drive results, he added.

In late morning trading, shares of Supervalu were up almost 9% to $5.77.

"Hyperlocal will be our true point of differentiation," Herkert said. The strategy in the past year has reinvigorated store staff, Herkert said, and increased customer engagement. "This is a major cultural shift for our company, but one that store teams have genuinely embraced."

That “hyperlocal” retailing concept empowers store directors to utilize tools and insights within their immediate trade areas. Local operators are helping to define the assortment, pricing, promotions and services to the neighborhood.

In addition to facilitating a local product assortment, Supervalu has also worked on lowering its price profile. In September, Supervalu introduced its “Fresh Produce, Fresh Prices” initiative, which effectively lowered the everyday price on around 200 key produce items.

Supervalu’s value proposition may be most apparent across its produce department, which makes up as much as 10% of total sales and represents a key driver of store choice for most shoppers. More than 200 items were reduced by up to 20% across all stores by January 2012. Since first implemented during the third quarter, unit sales are already up 300 basis points.

Through 2013, Supervalu will focus marketing on wooing existing shoppers to spend more, Herkert said. "Over time we would expect to generate incremental traffic as secondary shoppers shop with more frequency," he said.

Supervalu reported full-year net sales of $36.1 billion, down 3.7%, and a net loss of $1.04 billion, or $4.91 per diluted share. Same-store sales were down 2.8%, representing an improvement of 300 basis points over fiscal 2011. Customer count was down 3.9% and average ticket was up 1.1%.

The company expects to generate fiscal 2013 earnings per diluted share within a range of $1.27 to $1.42. “We are committed to fair price plus promotions and will intensify our efforts as we enter the second year of our business transformation," Herkert stated. "As we move into fiscal 2013, we see another year of improving identical store sales and will continue to take appropriate steps to deliver greater value to our customers and move closer to becoming America’s neighborhood grocer."

Net sales for the 52-week fiscal year are estimated to be between $35 billion and $35.5 billion, which includes the reduction of approximately $500 million in sales from the sale of the majority of the company’s fuel centers. Identical store sales growth, excluding fuel, is projected to be negative 1% to negative 2%. Debt reduction is estimated to be approximately $400 to $450 million and capital spending is projected to be approximately $675 million. Supervalu expects to complete approximately 100 store remodels and increase Save-A-Lot’s store count by approximately 50 stores, including licensed locations.

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Former Giant Eagle CFO heads to Family Dollar

BY DSN STAFF

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar has named Mary Winston to the position of EVP and CFO. Winston will report to Howard Levine, chairman and CEO, and will have executive responsibility for Family Dollar’s financial operations, including accounting, treasury, tax, financial planning, investor relations and internal audit.

“With more than 25 years of financial management and leadership experience, Mary is an excellent addition to our team,” Levine said. “Her extensive financial experience, combined with her strong communication and analytical skills, make her a great choice to help us execute against our strategic plan to expand our market share and drive greater financial returns.”

In conjunction with this change, Kenneth Smith, former SVP and CFO, expects to leave the company, serving in a transition role as SVP finance until October 2012.

“Throughout his 22-year tenure with the company, Ken has made significant contributions to Family Dollar in a variety of financial and operational areas,” Levine said. “Under his leadership, Family Dollar has strengthened its financial position and delivered strong returns to shareholders. I sincerely thank him for his service to Family Dollar and appreciate that we will continue to benefit from his expertise during the transition.”

Prior to joining Family Dollar, Winston served for four years as SVP and CFO of Giant Eagle. She also previously served as EVP and CFO of Scholastic, a children’s publishing and media company; as VP, treasurer and then controller of Visteon, an automotive parts supplier; and as Pfizer’s VP global financial operations.

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Walgreens increases quarterly dividend

BY DSN STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens announced that its board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of 22.5 cents per share, a 28.6% increase over the year-ago dividend.

The dividend is payable June 12 to shareholders of record on May 21. The drug store chain noted it has paid a dividend in 318 straight quarters (more than 79 years) and has raised its dividend for 36 consecutive years. What’s more, the company’s annual dividend rate has risen from 31 cents per share to 90 cents per share over the last five years.

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