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Winn-Dixie credits IT for help with financial turnaround

BY Drew Buono

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. After filing for bankruptcy, Winn-Dixie’s is back in the black, due in part to its information technology operations, according to Computerworld.

“I think it fundamentally contributed to the bankruptcy,” said Charles Weston, group vice president on information technology at Winn-Dixie, of the IT systems. The applications were fragmented, and a single job by an employee could involve logging onto five separate screens, he said.

Weston faced fundamental decisions concerning the direction of IT, including whether he should stick with the mainframe or move to a distributed environment for his core business systems. He decided to stay with the mainframe and upgrade to a System z9, by IBM, mainframe in late 2006. He rejected a decentralized approach, which would involve relying on clusters of servers to replace the mainframe, after analyzing the cost and technology involved in the two approaches.

Weston admitted that cost cutting following the bankruptcy reduced his IT staff by more than a third, but pointed out that since restructuring, his department has become an attractive as a place to work because of the effort. The company exited bankruptcy in 2006 and expects to report net income of $13 million for its latest fiscal year, which ended in June. Total sales for the year are expected to come in at nearly $7.3 billion.

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Rite Aid completes acquisition of final Pharm location

BY Alaric DeArment

SANDUSKY, Ohio Soon after Rite Aid’s ascendancy to Stores magazine’s list of the top 100 retailers due to its acquisition of the Brooks Pharmacy and Eckerd chains, it has completed its takeover of over another chain.

According to the Sandusky, Ohio, Register, Rite Aid recently bought the pharmacy scripts and other assets of the local Pharm store, completing its purchase of the chain.

Rite Aid already bought the assets of the other 12 Pharm stores in the Toledo, Ohio, area, announcing that it would reopen seven as Rite Aid stores and close the remaining five. The Sandusky store will be closed Aug. 30.

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Spartan Stores names new ceo

BY Antoinette Alexander

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores, a grocery distributor and operator of 84 retail supermarkets in Michigan, has named Dennis Eidson chief executive officer, effective Oct. 15.

Craig Sturken will continue in his role as executive chairman of the board. Until his transition to president and chief executive officer, Eidson will continue in his current role as a board member, president and chief operating officer.

“For the past 24 months, our board has been engaged in chief executive officer succession planning,” stated Sturken. “I have worked with our board to assess our critical leadership needs and to ensure that we selected the right individual to lead us through our future growth stages.”

Eidson joined the company in March 2003 as executive vice president of marketing and merchandising. In October 2007, he was appointed to the board of directors and as a company president, following his appointment in February 2007 as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Prior to joining Spartan Stores, he was divisional president and chief executive of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company’s Midwest region, and assistant general manager for Nash Finch’s Michigan operations.

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