RETAIL NEWS

Southeastern Grocers launches program for Hurricane Florence relief

BY DSN STAFF

Southeastern Grocers is doing its part to help those affected by Hurricane Florence.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer announced that in partnership with its Southeastern Grocers Foundation, it would be providing customers and associates with various ways to help those affected by the hurricane.

“At Southeastern Grocers, our associates, customers and communities we serve can always count on us to provide for them in their time of need,” Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, said. “In an effort to proactively aide our customers, we are launching a community donation program, together with the Southeastern Grocers Gives Foundation, in support of the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief to assist those impacted by Hurricane Florence.”

From now until Sept. 25, shoppers can make a donation at any of the retailer’s locations including Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys and Winn-Dixie, during checkout as well as online.

“Southeastern Grocers has a long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross, beginning with its more than 55-year partnership with Winn-Dixie,” Anna Trefethen, American Red Cross vice president of Humanitarian Services, Southeast and Caribbean Division, said. “Through the generous support of partners like Southeastern Grocers, the American Red Cross is able to meet the emergency needs of the community today and in the future during time of natural devastation.”

Every cent raised will go to the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief, which enables the organization to prepare, respond and help those affected by this disaster and others, the company said.

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Walgreens, Sprint to open additional Sprint Express locations

BY DSN STAFF

Walgreens and Sprint are expanding their joint partnership, which was announced earlier this year.

The companies announced that they will be opening an additional 80 locations of Sprint Express at Walgreens stores, within the Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan areas.

“Our customers who have visited the existing Sprint Express test locations in Gainesville, Florida and in the Chicagoland area, are telling us that they really like the convenience of being able to meet their mobile phone needs, while shopping at Walgreens,” Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations, said. “We’re pleased to expand our collaboration, and moving forward, together with Sprint, we are exploring other mobile wireless initiatives as we collectively focus on enhancing what Walgreens customers want in this new digital world.”

Services within the locations include advice on mobile products and accessories; support, access and education on the Walgreens app; and wireless services available to anyone via a curated postpaid and prepaid service options through Assurance Wireless.

“Walgreens and Sprint have an exceptional relationship,” Dow Draper, Sprint’s chief commercial officer, said. “By expanding our Sprint Express locations we’re increasing Sprint’s presence in locations that are often a daily destination for consumers. This makes it easy and convenient for them to interact with us. We’re also excited to offer the Walgreens family of employees exciting, exclusive offers and explore other opportunities to reward Walgreens customers.”

In addition, Sprint also is introducing exclusive wireless saving for Walgreens’ 250,000 employees and their families. Additional details on specific store locations and product service offerings are to be announced at a later date, the companies said.

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Fred’s sees sales, comps dip as it continues to right its ship

BY DSN STAFF

Memphis-based retailer Fred’s swung to a net loss in its second quarter as it looked to button up its expenses and continued to explore and execute transactions — all aimed at reducing its debt load, building up its cash flow and generating positive EBITDA.

For the quarter ended Aug. 4, the company saw net sales decline 4.3% to $419.7 million, alongside a comparable-store sales slide of 3.5%. Gross profit decreased to $100.5 million, with selling, general and administrative expenses totaling $121.9 million in the quarter — down from the year-ago period. The company’s net loss from continuing operations was $22.9 million, or $0.62 per share — an improvement over the $28.9 million net loss the company posted in Q2 2017.

“We are continuing to make progress against our two main goals of eliminating our debt balance and returning to profitability by Q4 of this year,” Fred’s interim CEO and CFO Joe Anto said. “While there is still much work to be done, we are moving in the right direction and are excited about the momentum we have at the Company.”

The results come shortly after the announcement that Fred’s would be selling the prescription files and inventory from 185 of its locations to Walgreens for $165 million, and several months after it announced that it was exploring options for the retail pharmacy side of the business. With the Walgreens transaction, Fred’s will still operate roughly 163 pharmacies in its stores.

“This transaction will be transformative for the company and should allow us to almost entirely eliminate our ABL Facility balance, enabling us to focus on returning our remaining business to profitability,” Anto said on a call with analysts. “We expect to close this transaction enrolling closings over the course of the fourth quarter and we’ll continue to evaluate strategic opportunities for the remainder of our retail pharmacy business.”

Fred’s attributed its comps drop to a “significant reduction in circular marketing,” and noted that its August marketing saw programs consistent with prior levels to improve on the front-store trend it saw in Q2.

For the six months ended Aug. 6, Fred’s saw net sales down 5.1% to $856.8 million, compared with $902.7 million in the comparable period in 2017. Comps decreased 3.8% for the first six months of 2018 as gross profit dipped to $212.1 million (compared with $251.3 million in the prior-year period. SG&A expenses for the first half of the year were $245.2 million — roughly 28.6% of sales and down from the $256 million they made up in the first half of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was -$11.1 million for the first six months of the year, compared with $8 million in the first six months of 2017.

“We have made significant strides in recent months in right-sizing our cost structure and working towards reducing our debt. We remain confident that over the balance of 2018 we will be able to stabilize our revenues and improve our free cash flow, setting us up to enter 2019 with significant momentum,” said Fred’s chairman Heath Freeman.

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