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Walgreens’ inoculation efforts don’t go unnoticed

BY Jim Frederick

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Seven million vaccinations is a lot of flu shots. And if you’ll pardon the pun, it was more than enough to put Walgreens at the sticking point of the nation’s inoculation campaign against the H1N1 virus.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens tapped for national award for its flu vaccination efforts. For the full story, click here)

Walgreens earned some well deserved honors from the National Influenza Vaccine Summit as the nation’s top corporate warrior in the long battle against H1N1 and other strains of the influenza virus sweeping the country in 2009 and early 2010. It was an obvious choice: administering more than 7 million vaccinations, Walgreens’ immunization campaign was by far the largest in the country of any kind, let alone one delivered by a corporation. It was a remarkable example of the power of community pharmacy to deliver a needed health service in thousands of neighborhood locations on a consistent basis, and it spoke volumes about pharmacy’s real value as a convenient, accessible source for professional health care and disease prevention.

Yes, the 7,500-store chain is a for-profit enterprise. And yes, Walgreens generated tens of millions of dollars in income from the relatively modest fees it charged patients to get their flu shots in one of its stores. But at a cost ranging as low as $20, the chain offered an easy, affordable option for millions of Americans who may not have taken the time or expense to get immunized at their family physician’s office.

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Combined effects dampen Spartan’s Q4, fiscal-year earnings

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Combined effects of a bad economy, price deflation and sold or closed stores dampened sales for Midwestern supermarket operator Spartan Stores in fourth-quarter 2010, causing a drop to $558.8 million, compared with $581.3 million in fourth-quarter 2009, the company said in an earnings report Wednesday. Spartan’s fiscal year ended March 27.

Sales for the fiscal year as a whole saw a smaller decrease, falling to $2.55 billion, compared with $2.58 billion in fiscal year 2009. Profits for fourth quarter 2010 were $13.7 million, compared with $17.3 million in fourth quarter 2009. Profits for the year were $63.5 million, compared with $72.7 million in 2009.

“We expect to generate improved cash flow, to further strengthen our balance sheet and to execute additional elements of our consumer-centric business strategy during fiscal 2011,” Spartan president and CEO Dennis Eidson said. “Following our aggressive capital investment program during the past two years, our retail store base is in good physical condition.”

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ROI marks three-year anniversary

BY Allison Cerra

NEW HAVEN, Conn. A software-as-a-service provider specializing in retail space and assortment optimization marked its three-year anniversary.

Retail Optimization Inc. offers an innovative, predictive macro analytics that optimizes both retail space and assortment simultaneously. Since ROI’s inception, more than 400 grocery and drug stores including Supervalu, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Rite Aid and Ahold have been optimized by the ROI process, the company said.

Additionally, new partnerships with such consultancies as Willard Bishop and Retail Performance Group are continuing the momentum and already showing positive effects, ROI said.

“The retail market demands results and we typically see 3% to 5% lifts on a store by store basis,” said ROI president and CEO Wes Bray, “Since we can deliver scalable, predictive analytic reporting that interfaces with a retailer’s current systems, ROI is perfectly positioned to quickly provide critical business intelligence, especially as more retailers move toward computer automated ordering.”

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