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Publix makes $5M donation to combat hunger

BY DSN STAFF

Publix is looking to help communities in need.

The Lakeland, Fla.-based company announced that it would be donating $5 million to more than 240 nonprofit organizations, including Feeding America member food banks that focus on alleviating hunger.

“For more than 50 years, we have been nourishing the communities in which Publix operates,” Carol Jenkins Barnett, president of Publix Super Markets Charities, said. “Through these efforts, we’ve supported the plight of the hungry and homeless, recognizing the importance of proper nutrition and the access to food. Children, seniors and families should never have to wonder where they will find their next meal. Our Foundation is dedicated to providing more meals and giving more hope to our communities.”

The retailer will award a gift card between $20,000 to $15,000 from its Publix Super Markets Charities to locations in various states. Those on the company’s lost include:

  • Alabama’s Feeding Gulf Coast in Theodore, Food Bank of North Alabama in Huntsville, Montgomery Area Food Bank in Montgomery and the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama in Birmingham;
  • Florida’s All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend in Tallahassee, Feeding Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, Feeding South Florida in Pembroke Park, Feeding Tampa Bay in Tampa, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida in Orlando and the Treasure Coast Food Bank in Fort Pierce;
  • Georgia’s Second Harvest of South Georgia in Valdosta, Middle Georgia Community Food Bank in Macon, Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta, Food Bank of Northeast Georgia in Athens, Feeding the Valley in Midland, Atlanta Community Food Bank and America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia in Savannah;
  • North Carolina’s Action Pathways in Fayetteville, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Raleigh, Manna Food Bank in Asheville, Inter-Faith Food Shuffle in Raleigh, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in Winston-Salem;
  • South Carolina’s Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia and Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston;
  • Tennessee’s Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee in Maryville, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in Nashville and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee in Greeneville; and
  • Virginia’s FeedMore in Richmond.

“Feeding America is thankful to Publix and Publix Charities for their long-standing commitment to fighting hunger in communities across the southeast,” Matt Knott, president of Feeding America, said. “One in eight Americans are at risk of hunger. This investment in programs and infrastructure will help food banks and their agency partners provide millions of meals to children, seniors and families who need them most.”

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Albertsons, Rite Aid terminate merger

BY David Salazar

Albertsons and Rite Aid on Wednesday evening announced that they had mutually decided to terminate the proposed merger of the Boise, Idaho-based grocery retailer and the Camp Hill, Pa.-based retail pharmacy chain. The termination came a day before Rite Aid was set to hold a special shareholders meeting at which the company has been urging its shareholders to vote in favor of the merger.

“Albertsons believes that the strategic rationale of the Rite Aid combination was compelling, including the $375 million of cost synergies and $3.6 billion of identified revenue opportunities,” Albertsons said. “We disagree with the conclusion of certain Rite Aid stockholders and third-party advisory firms that although they acknowledged the strategic logic of the combination, did not believe that Albertsons was offering sufficient merger consideration to Rite Aid stockholders.”

In the lead-up to the shareholders vote, CNBC reported that Glass Lewis and Institutions Shareholder services — two advisory firms for investors — came out against the merger, citing the offered price as the main sticking point, as they both backed the rationale for the acquisition, according to CNBC.

Albertsons said that in consulting with its board, it was “unwilling to change the terms of the merger.” Moving forward, the company said it would be focused on the future following the completion of its integration with Safeway. Efforts include building up its store-brand offerings and bolstering its e-commerce platform, which it said posted 108% year-over-year growth in the first quarter of 2018.

Rite Aid chairman and CEO John Standley said that despite believing in the merits of the merger, it had listened to its stockholders and has committed to moving forward as a standalone company.

“We remain focused on leveraging our network of conveniently located retail pharmacies, our EnvisionRxOptions PBM and our trusted brand of health and wellness offerings,” Standley said. “We will continue building momentum for key areas of our business like our innovative Wellness store format, highly successful customer loyalty program and expanded pharmacy service offerings, as we also enhance our omni-channel and own brand offerings to strengthen our competitive position and create long-term value for stockholders.”

Rite Aid also noted that its board was weighing governance changes, which it said would be undertaken alongside engagement with shareholders. It said that it would hold the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Oct. 30 at 8:30 a.m. at a location that is yet to be determined.

Neither Albertsons nor Rite Aid is responsible for any payments to one another under the merger terms, the companies said.

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Report: Inventory management is a key factor in store efficiency

BY Marianne Wilson

Inventory management has emerged as a key factor for operational efficiency within physical stores — and there is almost no room for error in today’s omnichannel marketplace.

That’s one of the findings of a new report from ABI Research, which said that as stores strive to perfect how they serve customers and integrate various shopping and delivery channels, being able to accurately count, control and predict available inventory will become a basic operational requirement.

“Stores which have limited intelligence on the location and quantity of stock at the individual item level cannot expect to adequately serve their customers or successfully execute a competitive omnichannel retail strategy,” said Nick Finill, senior analyst at ABI Research.

The good news is that with computer vision use cases maturing, artificial Intelligence tools becoming more powerful, and RFID technology demonstrating major ROI, retailers are now able to approach 100% inventory accuracy — enabling a transformation of the industry.

For many retailers using traditional inventory counting methods in the apparel, fashion, and soft goods sector, inventory accuracy can drop to around 65%, resulting in a poor experience for shoppers and lost sales, according to the report. Using RFID technology, these retailers can reach near-perfect inventory intelligence at more regular intervals, leading to improved customer satisfaction, reduced shrinkage, and improved sales velocity. In most cases, fashion retailers employing RFID can increase annual revenues by at least 3%.

RFID deployments in the fashion retail sector have demonstrated clear ROI for retailers deploying the technology at scale. ABI Research calculates that an apparel store with annual sales of just under $6 million can realistically achieve a 44% ROI within the first year, with returns increasing to over 200% in the third year.

“The resurgence of RFID as a powerful inventory management tool in fashion retail has been driven by rapidly falling costs and demand for greater end-to-end insight in retail operations,” said Finill. “However, RFID will fail to transform the entire retail market due to its limited viability outside of soft goods and fashion verticals.”

In shelf-based retail environments such as grocery stores, 20 hours of labor per week is spent on average by associates performing stock counts. The automation of these processes, using computer vision, robotics, and AI, promises to save labor costs for retailers, in addition to improving the customer experience and driving sales.

The emergence of easily integrated, cloud-based managed service models has played a major role in the transformation of inventory management. Diverse SaaS inventory solutions offered by disruptors such as Infor, Nedap, Scandit, and BossaNova are helping retailers digitize and automate the entire in-store inventory lifecycle without the need for major capital expenditure, according to ABI.

“In order to remain competitive with e-commerce retailers and other brick-and-mortar rivals, physical stores will soon be adopting IoT and AI-enabled inventory tools as the standard, rather than the exception,” Finill concluded.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Transforming In-Store Inventory Management report.

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