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Walmart unveils extensive restructuring

BY Drug Store News Team

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Major restructuring initiatives announced Thursday by Walmart touch nearly every aspect of the company and are intended to created a new organizational framework to drive growth.

The changes were announced in a series of memos posted on the company’s Web site from president and CEO Mike Duke, vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright, chief merchandising office John Fleming and coo Bill Simon. According to Castro-Wright, the changes were made because it was time to escalate efforts associated with the company’s Project Impact initiative begun approximately three years ago.

Although most generally associated with a new store prototype, Project Impact encompasses a wide range of initiatives to strengthen price leadership, improve product assortments and upgrade the shopping experience. Those benefits were realized in large part due to improve alignment among its merchandising, marketing and operations group. Now, a similar strategy is now being applied to the Walmart Realty division which will be integrated with store operations and logistics and report to Walmart U.S. COO Bill Simon.

“This move will help facilitate our growth as we seek to enter new markets and develop new segments across the U.S. and will drive efficiency by allowing us to better leverage our resources,” Castro-Wright said. “We are also building a structure that aligns the store planning team with the customer experience team that currently is part of merchandising. This will also support our efforts to accelerate our speed to market with new formats.”

In addition, the company plans to introduce a new field reporting structure that includes three geographic business units in the west, the south and the north. The company’s previous structure consisted of five major regions.

The shift has resulted in several interesting personal moves as Walmart.com president and CEO Raul Vasquez was given the role of an operator with oversight of the Walmart West area. Rosalind Brewer was name president of Walmart South after previously serving as president of Walmart’s southeast division. Hank Mullany, previously president of the Northeast division, is now president of Walmart North. Mike Moore and Michael Lewis, who previously served as senior VP under the five operating region structure, have been given new roles in the merchandising group. Moore is now responsible for automotive, stationery, hardware, fabric and crafts and sporting goods. Lewis will lead the newly created Global Merchandising Center for packaged grocery product.

Another major merchandising change involves Andrea Thomas who will serve as senior VP brand merchandising for home, hardlines and entertainment reporting directly to chief merchant John Fleming. Thomas was previously responsible for private brand management in the marketing group.

Another noteworthy change involves the creation of a new organization called store merchandising execution. It will be led by Andy Barron who has the tall order of designing merchandise strategies for the geographic business units, executing customer focused programs and will report to both Simon and Fleming.

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URAC gears up for Best Practices Awards

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The nation’s leading healthcare accreditation and education organization has issued a call for entries for its 2010 Best Practices Awards in Health Care Consumer Empowerment and Protection to find which companies are setting the standard in advancing the role of consumers as active participants in health care.

URAC’s Best Practices Awards recognize the achievements of healthcare companies that are actively pursuing practices to advance consumer empowerment and protection in an exceptional, measurable and reproducible way. Last year’s winners included such innovative companies as CVS Caremark, HealthPartners, Eliza Corp., Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, and Pro-Change Behavior Systems.

“At a time when everyone is looking for healthcare value, transparency, and accountability, the URAC Best Practices Awards give healthcare organizations an opportunity to showcase best practices and receive recognition for their commitment to engage consumers as partners,” said Alan Spielman, president and CEO of URAC. “We are delighted to honor those who are leading the health care industry through innovation and providing proven practices that advance patient safety and empower consumers.”

Awards will be given in two categories. The Consumer Decision-Making category recognizes practices that educate consumers about their healthcare needs while providing the information, tools, and resources necessary to promote empowerment. These could include health coaching, disease-specific education, or behavior change programs. The Consumer Health Improvement category honors practices that are related to quality improvement in patient safety such as drug therapy management, disease prevention, or care coordination.

The deadline for entries is March 15. To access the online submission form, visit www.urac.org/QualitySummit11/. For questions, e-mail [email protected] or call 202-216-9010.

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Rite Aid reports drop in same-store sales

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday posted a 2.1% decline in same-store sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 23. Total drug store sales for the four-week period decreased 3.3% to $1.9 billion.

Both front-end same-store sales and pharmacy comparable sales were each down 2.1% for the period, while prescriptions filled at comparable stores decreased 1.1%.

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