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Deloitte Consumer Spending Index reports sharp decline

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending, fell to 3.16% from an upwardly revised gain of 3.78% a month ago.

The index showed the largest single month decline since November 2007.

Deloitte said that the index, which is comprised of four components — including tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — saw a drop due to "a sharp deterioration in real wages coupled with a rise in jobless claims."

"Growth in consumers’ disposable income recently accelerated following a cut in Social Security taxes, giving consumers the means to spend," Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly index Carl Steidtmann said. "However, rising food and energy prices have started to undermine consumers’ purchasing power, which may continue to lose ground to inflation in the months ahead, particularly if unemployment claims head higher."

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Kodak’s board elects Augustin Melendez as VP

BY Allison Cerra

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Eastman Kodak Co.’s board of directors has named a new VP.

The company said that Augustin Melendez will take on his new role immediately. Since joining Kodak in 2000, Melendez has held multiple senior leadership roles in human resources. He currently serves as chief diversity and community affairs officer and human resources director for Kodak’s graphic communications group.

Melendez holds a B.S. in business administration and economics and a B.A. in speech and communications from Wagner College, as well as an M.S. in human resources and development from St. John Fisher College.

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Merlo will continue legacy left behind by Ryan

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — As reported, CVS Caremark’s annual meeting of stockholders was of special importance as it marked the beginning of a new chapter for both CVS Caremark and its former chairman and CEO Tom Ryan, who officially retired from the company after more than 30 years of service.

(THE NEWS: CVS’ Merlo outlines factors for future growth. For the full story, click here)

Ryan, who began his career with CVS/pharmacy in 1974 as a pharmacy intern, told shareholders that he was fortunate to spend his 37 years with a company he "loved." He said it was the culture and the people that drew him to CVS. That love for CVS and passion for the pharmacy industry was undeniable as he held back tears and shareholders rose to give him a standing ovation for his years of dedication and hard work.

Under Ryan’s leadership, CVS has grown from a regional drug store chain with revenues of $5 billion in 1994 to a pharmacy healthcare provider powerhouse with revenues nearing $100 billion. Over the years, CVS has transformed into an industry trailblazer with its innovative beauty concepts, highly successful loyalty card program and vertically integrated pharmacy-PBM model via the 2007 acquisition of Caremark.

Despite being a larger — much larger — company, Ryan said those same "traits and values" that attracted him to the company years ago still hold true today within CVS.

With the mark of a successful leader, Ryan has left the growing company in the hands of a strong, capable new leader — Larry Merlo. "I’m passing [the company over] to a great leader, one whom I respect and who knows this business. Larry will take this company to great heights," Ryan told shareholders.

Clearly, this is not an end of an era, but rather the beginning of a new chapter for the Woonsocket, R.I.-based powerhouse.

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