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Albertsons announces big strides since Safeway merger

BY David Salazar
BOISE, Idaho — Albertsons on Monday — the two-year anniversary of its merger with Safeway — shared some of the progress the company has made since the combination made it the second-largest supermarket company in the United States. The merger created a collective company with 2,230 stores and a team of 250,000 people across 19 banners. 
 
Since the merger closed in January 2015, Albertsons said it has grown its workforce by 10%, adding 26,000 jobs, building 23 locations and acquiring 151 more stores. At the same time, the company increased its healthy food offerings and charitable donations, giving $272 million in food donations nationwide in 2016 and $25 million in donations from the Albertsons Cos. Foundation in 2016 to support cancer research, hunger relief, veterans support and programs for people with disabilities. 
 
The company has also become a big force in pharmacy since it merged with Safeway. In the 2016 Drug Store News PoweRx Industry Rankings, Albertsons was ninth in our ranking of the top 50 retail pharmacy players with $5 billion in pharmacy sales across 1,738 of its locations with a pharmacy in 2015. Its spot in 2016 was up two spots from where it was in our 2015 rankings, when it was ranked eleventh, with $4 billion in pharmacy sales for 2014 across 1,600 stores with pharmacies. 
 
“We added an exceptional class of talented employees to our family as we grew to serve more neighborhoods and customers,” Albertsons chairman and CEO Bob Miller said. “We also supported hundreds of causes with millions of dollars in donations and transformed into a greener, more sustainable company. I'm extremely proud of our accomplishments, which are a result of the dedication of every employee. They helped us take steps toward being the ‘Favorite Local Supermarket’ in the communities we serve.”
 
Because of its efforts toward sustainability, Albertsons was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency with a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award for increasing awareness of products that are safer for people and the environment. 
 
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Walmart to give new employees pay increases sooner

BY Brian Berk

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The labor market for workers appears to be improving.

Walmart confirmed to media outlets it will speed up the time it takes for new employees to complete a training program and subsequently increase their pay.

The retail two years ago implemented a $9 per-hour minimum wage and last year unveiled a six-month training program called Pathways. Once this program was completed, pay was increased to $10 per hour.

However, based upon feedback, Walmart will now shorten this salary increase wait time to 90 days. A company spokesperson told CNBC the change is being as new employees were able to master the aspects of the Pathways training course more quickly than expected.

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Walgreens, Rite Aid amend deal to $7 per share, extend end date

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill.  — Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid on Monday morning extended their previously announced definitive merger agreement under which Walgreens Boots Alliance will acquire all outstanding shares of Rite Aid.

The retail pharmacy operations also restructured a new deal that would value Rite Aid at between about $6.8 billion and $7.4 billion, depending on required store divestitures, down from an initial acquisition cost of $9.4 billion.

Under the terms of the amendment, the parties have agreed to reduce the price for each share of Rite Aid common stock to be paid by Walgreens Boots Alliance. The revised price will be a maximum of $7 per share and a minimum of $6.50 per share. In addition, Walgreens Boots Alliance will be required to divest up to 1,200 Rite Aid stores and certain additional related assets if required to obtain regulatory approval.

The exact price per share will be determined based on the number of required store divestitures, with the price set at $7 per share if 1,000 stores or fewer are required for divestiture and at $6.50 per share if 1,200 stores are required for divestiture. If the required divestitures fall between 1,000 and 1,200 stores, then there will be a pro-rata adjustment of the price per share. Walgreens Boots Alliance agreement to divest up to 1,200 Rite Aid stores represents an increase of up to 200 stores over the 1,000 stores that Walgreens Boots Alliance had agreed to divest under the terms of the original agreement.

According to the original divestiture agreement with Fred's announced Dec. 20, if the FTC requires divestiture of more than the 865 Rite Aid stores currently contemplated by the purchase agreement and Walgreens Boots Alliance agrees to sell such stores, that purchase agreement requires Fred’s to purchase those additional stores.

Additionally, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid agreed to extend the end date under the previously announced agreement from Jan. 27 to July 31 2017 in order to allow the parties additional time to obtain regulatory approval.

The transaction is subject to approval by the holders of Rite Aid’s common stock, the expiration or termination of applicable waiting periods under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended and other customary closing conditions.

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