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Walgreens readies support for areas in path of Hurricane Florence

BY DSN STAFF

As Hurricane Florence prepares to make landfall, Walgreens has been taking steps to help customers, associates and communities that are expected to be affected by the storm, both in the lead-up and aftermath, the company announced Wednesday.

“Walgreens is fully mobilizing to support the health and wellness needs of our customers and communities facing this dangerous storm,” Walgreens president of operations Richard Ashworth said. “We urge our patients and customers to follow evacuation orders and get to a safe location first and then refill medications at the nearest pharmacy. Walgreens has approximately 9,800 locations nationwide that are able to access patient’s records,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. “We have a dedicated team in our Emergency Operations Center working to ensure our team members in the impacted areas remain safe and are preparing to rapidly restore operations in order to best serve our patients and communities.”

Walgreens’ efforts include prescription drug preparedness efforts, as the state of emergency declared in North and South Carolina means pharmacists can refill up to a 30-day supply without requiring refill authorization for any non-controlled substance. The company also recommended patients take a waterproof bag with current medications, even if the bottle is empty, as the label info can help pharmacy staff with refill requests.

Walgreens also said it was proactively staging temporary mobile pharmacies near the region that it can deploy to stores that might be damaged or unable to open in a timely manner if necessary.

Additionally, the company said it will evaluate a philanthropic response in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, with plans to activate its store base to donate to American Red Cross hurricane relief work. It also said it would prepare to donated necessary items to emergency shelters — in the aftermath of Hurrican Harvey, Walgreens said its customers donated more than $10 million to Red Cross relief efforts.

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Walmart to acquire grocery delivery platform in Mexico, Chile

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is enhancing its online grocery delivery capabilities south of the border.

The purchase is intended to ramp up multi-platform capabilities in the region, and follows similar investments in China and Japan.

The discounter has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Cornershop, an online marketplace for on-demand delivery of food, health & wellness and packaged goods from supermarkets, pharmacies and specialty food retailers in Mexico and Chile, for $225 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cornershop will remain an open platform that will continue to deliver from a variety of retailers. Its three founders — Oskar Hjertonsson, CEO; Daniel Undurraga, COO; and Juan Pablo Cuevas, chief technology officer, and their teams — will continue to lead the business.

“Cornershop’s digital expertise, technology and capabilities will strengthen our successful businesses in Mexico and Chile and provide learning for other markets in which we operate,” said Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International. “Combining Cornershop’s innovative, crowdsourced delivery platform with Walmart’s unique assets will allow us to accelerate growth for both companies, delighting our customers by saving them both time and money.”

Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected by the end of the year.

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Kroger tops profit estimates in Q2 results

BY Marianne Wilson

Kroger’s second-quarter profit topped estimates, but its sales came in below estimates amid ongoing intense competition in the grocery sector.

Net income rose 43.9% to $508 million, or $0.62 per share, from $353 million, or $0.39 per share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came in at 41 cents, above estimates of 38 cents.

Sales increased to $27.87 billion from $27.60 billion, below estimates of $27.93 billion. Same-store sales rose 1.6%, below expectations.

On its quarterly earnings call, Kroger management said that its ongoing efforts to adjust store layouts and rearrange brands on the shelves, with an emphasis on its own labels, impacted same-store sales.

“This effect is not a surprise to us,” said CEO Rod McMullen on the call. “We expect the headwinds from space optimization during the first half of 2018 to become a tailwind late in the third quarter.”

Looking ahead, the company raised its net EPS guidance range to $3.88 to $4.03 from $3.64 to $3.79, but affirmed its adjusted EPS outlook of $2.00 to $2.15.

Kroger has been investing in a slew of initiatives to grow its online business as it faces fierce competition in the space from Amazon and Walmart.

“We are only two quarters into our three-year Restock Kroger plan, and we are making solid progress,” McMullen stated in a release. “Kroger customers have more ways than ever to engage with us seamlessly through our recently-launched Kroger Ship, expanded the availability of Instacart, successful ClickList offering, and selling Simple Truth in China through Alibaba’s Tmall.”

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