RETAIL NEWS

CARE Pharmacies names two new board members

BY Michael Johnsen

CARE Pharmacies Cooperative on Monday named Christine Lee-Wilson and Avani Sheth to the cooperative’s 2018 board of directors.

“Our Board of Directors is certainly privileged to have the addition of these two dynamic and influential store owners and clinicians,” Mike Wysong, CEO of the Linthicum, Md.-based CARE Pharmacies, said. “Avani and Christine both bring many years of distinguished service to our team and their experience and insight will be invaluable to CARE as we look for new ways to serve our customers well.”

Both appointees are registered pharmacists and own and operate successful community retail and specialty pharmacies.

Lee-Wilson holds a coctor of pharmacy degree from St. Johns University, New York, and recently served as the chair and president for the Maryland Pharmacists Association. She currently owns Professional Pharmacy in Baltimore.

Sheth holds a B.S. degree in pharmacy from Long Island University and currently oversees the compliance and accreditation functions at Giannotto’s Specialty Pharmacy in Newark, N.J.

CARE Pharmacies is a member-owned cooperative of independent community and specialty pharmacies offering a full range of programs and services designed to meet the dynamic needs of the independent pharmacy owner operator. Recognized by the National Retail Federation as one of the fastest growing retailers in the country, CARE has more than 80 locations in 15 states including the District of Columbia.

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Walmart sets the stage for e-commerce growth

BY DSN STAFF

Walmart’s online results for the fourth quarter spooked investors, but the discounter is confident that it will regain momentum this year.

Walmart reported a 23% increase in online sales for the quarter, compared to a 50% increase in the previous quarter. The chain said part of the decline was expected as sales growth on Jet.com, which it acquired in 2016, cooled. It also cited operational snags.

Despite the disappointing results, Walmart is well poised for future online growth and expects e-commerce growth of 40% in its current fiscal year. It is planning a number of investments in its website and overall digital operations that should start to take hold later this year, CNBC reported.

The upcoming initiatives include a revamped website with a focus on fashion and home goods. The site will also feature Jet.com’s “smart cart” technology, which provides shoppers cheaper prices if they pack more items together in one box, use a debit card when paying for purchases or opt out of returns, the report said.

To read more, click here.

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Tops Markets
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Tops Markets files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

BY DSN STAFF

In an effort it said is directed at reducing its debt load, Tops Markets on Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a financial restructuring. The Williamsville, N.Y.-based operator of 169 supermarkets and five franchise stores said that it has received sufficient funding to keep it liquid enough to support its operations as it completes a restructure.

Tops said that the operations would be funded through a $125 million debtor-in-possession term loan financing facility from certain noteholders, as well as $140 million DIP asset-based revolving loan from Bank of America. The company expects to receive court approval to use these funds to support operations as it completes a court-supervised restructuring process. Tops also said that it intends to pay vendors and suppliers in full under normal terms for goods and services provided after the filing.

“We believe the financing that we received from our noteholders is a vote of confidence in our business,” Tops CEO Frank Curci said. “Our operations are strong and we have an outstanding network of stores and a talented team to support them. We are now undertaking a financial restructuring, through which we expect to substantially reduce our debt and achieve long-term financial flexibility. This will enable us to invest further in our stores, create an even more exceptional shopping experience for our customers and compete more effectively in today’s highly competitive and evolving market.”

In the company’s filing, FTI Consulting senior managing director Michael Buenzow, who the company retained in December, cites among the challenges facing Tops roughly $450 million in incremental debt that it took on as part of its acquisition by Morgan Stanley and subsequent transactions. As a result, “it has been unable to overcome the debt burden placed on it as a result of the aforementioned transactions,” the filing says. It also outlines the grocery industry challenges Tops has faced — coupled with the its 85% unionized workforce. These factors have combined to put pressure on Tops’ profit margin, Buenzow wrote. He also cites an inability to make capital investments because of its debt. The company also has been making payments to a Teamsters pension fund related to its acquisition of Erie Logistics.

In addition to committing to continue paying suppliers and vendors, Tops said it expects to operate as normal as it navigates the restructuring process.

“Tops has gained strong market share and we continue to distinguish ourselves by offering quality products at affordable prices with superior customer service,” Curci said in a letter to suppliers. “We have an outstanding network of stores and a strong operational team to support them. Through this financial restructuring, we intend to substantially reduce our debt and enhance our long-term financial flexibility, allowing us to invest further in our stores, create an even better shopping experience for our customers and compete more effectively in today’s highly competitive and evolving market.”

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