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CVS plans to launch full-scale beauty centers this year

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. —CVS/pharmacy has, over the years, taken an innovative approach to beauty to position itself as a beauty destination, and now the retailer is raising the bar even higher by piloting a new concept store called Beauty 360.

“For us, it is all about the evolution of where we have been. We believe this is a natural next step,” Mike Bloom, senior vice president of merchandising, told Drug Store News. “We think about it as a pyramid where everybody plays at the bottom of the pyramid and everybody has entered into the game and everybody carries the same products. Then you see some retailers sort of moved out of that and into proprietary brands and then into [in-store skincare centers]. So we believe the next evolution is this concept.”

The first Beauty 360 location is expected to open by the end of the year next to an existing CVS store on the East Coast, and another on the West Coast shortly thereafter. CVS executives, however, have not yet disclosed exact locations.

In typical CVS fashion, the retailer will walk before it runs, carefully gauging the success of the pilot and tweaking it as needed before rolling it out to additional locations. There’s no doubt, however, that there are tremendous opportunities for growth, especially given the planned acquisition of Longs Drug Stores.

The concept, which targets beauty shoppers looking for higher-end prestige products, likely will be housed in a space adjacent to a CVS store or located in a carved-out space within a CVS store, depending on the location and the opportunities that are available.

The units will range between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet in size and will carry 32 lines of skin care and cosmetics, plus a number of fragrances. While the brand names have not been released, CVS executives have described the lines as department or specialty store brands, and stressed that the offerings within Beauty 360 will not include proprietary brands.

“It is really designed from a customer experience perspective so our folks can help customers identify the products that work for them, so it is very experiential,” said Eileen Howard Dunn, senior vice president of corporate communications. “[And] it has a very high-end look. It is brushed metal, very nice lighting and a sea foam green background to it as well.”

CVS also is considering offering such “express services” as manicures and hand massages within the stores, which will be staffed by sales associates who will receive commissions but will sell across all brands.

While beauty always has been a core aspect of CVS’ front-end offering, this new concept likely will help the chain better compete with such specialty stores as Sephora and Ulta. One major advantage that CVS will have, according to Bloom, is CVS’ real estate. In fact, the retailer estimates that more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within two miles of a CVS store and the company has about four million customers a day.

“Convenience is really one of the key theories here. We have great real estate and are on the corner of Main and Main in many towns, cities, urban, suburban and rural. We think it is the right time.… With the economy, her trip behavior today is different so if she can do even more one-stop shopping that is terrific,” said Bloom, who also referred to the struggles facing department stores today.

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Walgreens donates food, supplies as new storms target Gulf, Southeast

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has sent truckloads of food, water and emergency supplies to Baton Rouge, La., to aid with continuing Hurricane Gustav relief efforts.

Among the necessities shipped to hard-hit residents: water, trail mix, granola bars and other snack items, along with infant formula and diapers. Walgreens reports it is also gathering supplies to place on standby for a swift response to new emergency requests across the nation’s southeast coast with the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna this weekend and Hurricane Ike next week.

“We’ll direct critical resources to communities in need,” said Walgreens director of community affairs John Gremer. “We’re on alert, and we’ll be ready to help wherever we can.”

The company notes there is still “tremendous need in many Baton Rouge communities,” which were among the hardest hit by Gustav. “Thousands remain without electricity, and food and water are still in high demand,” the company reports.

Another priority is getting any stores that were closed due to the storm back open quickly, according to the chain. As of Friday morning, Walgreens reported, “all but one of Walgreens’ 15 Baton Rouge stores are open. Across the Gulf Coast region, only nine remain closed down from 69 closed immediately following the storm.”

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Rite Aid donates $44,500-plus in supplies for Gustav evacuees

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. To further assist evacuees of Hurricane Gustav, The Rite Aid Foundation is donating more than $44,500 worth of supplies including water, snacks, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other personal hygiene products as requested by the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to be distributed at shelters for evacuees, the Foundation announced Friday

“Throughout the Gulf Coast, widespread flooding and violent wind damage have created an urgent need for disaster support,” stated Jeff Towers, chief development officer at the American Red Cross. “Rite Aid generously responded to this need through in-kind and financial support to help the Red Cross provide food, shelter and counseling to Gulf Coast communities during this hurricane season.”

Earlier this week, The Rite Aid Foundation made a $75,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help the victims, families and communities affected by Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A relief team of Rite Aid associates, including store cashiers and pharmacists, have traveled from Tennessee and unaffected areas of Louisiana and Alabama to help stores that have been impacted and to help reopen additional stores.

“One of Rite Aid’s core values is to be caring neighbors in the communities we serve, and we are happy to work with the American Red Cross to help the evacuees of Hurricane Gustav,” commented Mike Seesholtz, Rite Aid regional vice president for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “Our associates have been amazing in their commitment to do whatever they can to help the victims of Hurricane Gustav.”

Residents displaced by the hurricane can visit any open Rite Aid for their prescriptions because the company’s satellite-linked computer network assures a complete customer prescription history at any Rite Aid store. Because of the state of emergency, Rite Aid pharmacies also can access prescription information for patients who do not normally get their prescriptions at Rite Aid.

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