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WBA and Rite Aid withdraw deal for 2,000-plus stores, to refile Friday

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid on Wednesday filed notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the companies would be withdrawing its initial deal to acquire 2,186 Rite Aid stores, and will refile that agreement by Friday, August 18.

That will reset the clock on the waiting period under the HSR Act with to Sept. 18, 2017, unless otherwise extended or terminated.

Following the termination of the deal to acquire Rite Aid outright, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid on June 29 had agreed to a new deal under which Walgreens Boots Alliance would purchase almost 2,200 stores and three distribution centers from Rite Aid for $5.2 billion in cash.

“This new transaction extends our growth strategy and offers additional operational and financial benefits,” Stefano Pessina, Walgreens Boots Alliance executive vice chairman and CEO, stated at the time of the June announcement. “It will allow us to expand and optimize our retail pharmacy network in key markets in the U.S., including the Northeast, and provide customers and patients with greater access to convenient, affordable care.”

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SPINS partners with Natural Commerce, a Direct Eats Company

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO —  SPINS on Wednesday announced an exclusive partnership with e-commerce innovator Natural Commerce, a Direct Eats Company.

“We can build the endless aisle for our retail customers almost instantly with our access to an immense range of key health and wellness products,” stated David Hack, CEO Natural Commerce. “Our partnership with SPINS gives us top insights into maintaining the selection today’s shoppers want, and as we grow our network with SPINS’ broad coalition of innovative retailers, we can continue to exponentially increase exposure and opportunity for health and wellness brands.”

“Natural Commerce is disrupting what used to be real barriers to entry into the omnichannel marketplace,” noted Tony Olson, CEO SPINS. "SPINS is ready to help brands and brick-and-mortar retailers adapt, grow and win with e-commerce. Leveraging Natural Commerce solutions in collaboration with the SPINS Product Library will change the game for our shared brand clients and retail partners.”

With the shift to online grocery expected to grow by 300% over the next two years (from 4% to 12% of overall grocery spend), Natural Commerce helps brands and retailers maximize their opportunity. Natural Commerce provides turnkey e-commerce solutions that allow brick-and-mortar retailers to go to market in months and to leverage and maintain their shopper data. The company also enables brands to offer an expanded product assortment across a greater number of outlets, thereby helping both brands and retailers maximize their share of wallet in the omnichannel marketplace.  

As a key central aggregator for the e-commerce space, Natural Commerce leverages the power of group buying and a lower cost of goods to benefit all consumers on one central platform.

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SpartanNash bullish on future with military commissary PL contract

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Fresh off winning new private label business for military commissaries, SpartanNash noted that its robust own brands initiative is feeding an enthusiasm for its future earnings potential.

SpartanNash on Wednesday posted $1.9 billion in sales for the second-quarter ended July 15, representing an increase of 3.7%. The increase in net sales was driven by contributions from the Caito Foods Service acquisition and organic growth in the food distribution segment, the company stated.

"We continue to be very pleased with our food distribution segment's performance despite challenging retail market conditions, as the creative solutions we offer our customers continue to contribute to their success as well as ours," stated David Staples, president and CEO SpartanNash. "During the quarter, we began shipping private brand products to U.S. military commissaries and look forward to the continued roll out of this program in the second half of the year.”

The commissary operator Defense Commissary Agency is the equivalent to a $5 billion retailer, Staples told investors Thursday morning.

SpartanNash has approximately 250 own brands in the commissary system today, Staples told investors Thursday morning. That assortment will grow to approximately 425 by year’s end. “Our private brand initiative with [Defense Commissary Agency] is progressing nicely and we began shipping products to commissaries during the second quarter,” Staples said. “With DeCA’s stated target of up to 4,000 SKUs in this program, we have the potential for substantial growth over the next two years, which would result in a significant improvement to our financial results. As we have previously noted, our strategy with the military segment is to be the best-in-class provider for DeCA in these Exchanges.”

“We continue to enhance our private brands programs for both independent customers and corporate owned stores,” Staples said. “In the second quarter we announced the launch of the Our Family brand into the Michigan region. This brand will replace our Spartan brand and will provide us with a system-wide national-brand-equivalent or better-quality program, providing a larger variety of product offerings at a lower cost to our customers, and will allow us to streamline our supply chain. Thirty retailers in Michigan already depend on the Our Family brand,” he said. “We’re excited to expand the brand and introduce it throughout our distribution network.”

Additionally, SpartanNash continues to expand the Open Acres fresh brand product offering, and have begun to incorporate its own fresh cut fruits and vegetables into the brand. SpartanNash also continues to enhance its expanded Living Well offering, which includes the natural and organic Full Circle private brand line and a significant number of new SKUs across organic produce and healthier specialty items.

We have extended significant effort to build an industry-leading private brand, and after recent wins such as the DeCA private brand worldwide program, are now being contacted by new companies to potentially help them drive sales through a wide variety of private brand offerings,” Staples said. “For the second quarter, private brand unit penetration in our retail operations was 21.5%, up 30 basis points from the prior year quarter, whereas the national average was slightly negative during the same time period. We ended the quarter with approximately 4,800 unique private brand items and we continue to enhance our assortment.”

In addition to posting quarterly results, SpartanNash named Mark Shamber EVP and CFO effective Sept. 11. Shamber previously served as CFO for United Natural Foods, a specialty and organic food distributor. Following his departure from UNFI at the end of 2015, Shamber has been working as an independent consultant and serving as the vice chairman, board of directors of Day Kimball Healthcare. Earlier in his career, Shamber worked in the audit practice of Ernst & Young, and in the finance department of Reebok International.

As SpartanNash's EVP and CFO, Shamber will direct finance, mergers and acquisitions, treasury, internal audit, real estate and risk management. He will report to Staples.

 

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