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In first full month, Fred’s EntrustRx helps realize double-digit growth

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — May sales at Fred's Super Dollar increased by 10% to $166.9 million, reflecting the first full month of its EntrustRx specialty pharmacy operations, the discount retailer reported Thursday. Excluding $6.1 million from last year's May sales for 56 closed locations, total sales increased 15% for the month. Comparable store sales for the month increased 0.3% compared with a 0.4% decrease in the same period last year.
 
“We are pleased with the Company's solid sales growth in the month of May, meeting plan in both total and comparable store sales,” commented Jerry Shore, Fred's CEO. “This was significant considering that the fiscal month of May did not include the first day of the month. We anticipate June sales to reflect the benefit of this calendar shift. This progress sets the stage for a cycle of double-digit sales growth for the company for the remainder of the year.” he said. "As we outlined in our recent conference call, we expect to drive higher sales and traffic in the second quarter through pharmacy expansion, as well as general merchandise and supply chain initiatives that are progressing throughout the company."
 
Fred's total sales for the first four months of fiscal year 2015 increased 4% to $676 million. Excluding sales of $27.9 million from closed stores in 2014, total sales increased 9% for the first four months of 2015. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales increased 0.6% versus a 1.5% decrease for the year-earlier period.
 
During May, Fred's opened one Xpress pharmacy location and converted one Xpress pharmacy location into an existing full-service location.
 
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Vitamin Shoppe to sponsor health expos

BY Gina Acosta

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — The Vitamin Shoppe is hoping to attract more health-conscious shoppers by sponsoring a health expo this month at all 700 of its stores.
 
All Vitamin Shoppe stores across the country will host a "Share the Health" Expo from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Each store will provide samples of healthy goodies, offer consultations with local wellness partners, plus tips and recipes for healthy living this summer. The first 50 shoppers at each store will receive a free gift bag with product samples from a selection of brands.
 
In the first quarter ended March 28, the Vitamin Shoppe grew total sales 9.4% and delivered a 1.2% total company cost including the impact of online sales growth. The company reported its 38th consecutive quarter of positive comparable store sales. E-commerce sales were slightly down at a decrease of 90 basis points. Retail revenue grew 5.7% to $288 million while the retail comp was 1.5%.
 
The Vitamin Shoppe sells more than 20,000 products to choose from, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, sports nutrition, homeopathic remedies, green living, beauty aids and more. It operates 700 Vitamin Shoppe stores across the country or online at VitaminShoppe.com.
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Report: Walmart relaxing rules for associates

BY Gina Acosta

FAYETTEVILLE, Ak., Walmart reportedly is relaxing its dress code and raising the temperature at its stores as part of an effort to improve working conditions. 
 
According to a Reuters report, Walmart made the announcement to a gathering of 3,000 workers brought to Arkansas this week before the company's annual shareholders' meeting due to be held on Friday.
 
The effort, which includes a new training program and upgraded handheld terminals for department managers, is being billed as a sign that management was listening to some 1 million hourly workers it employs in the United States, according to Reuters.
 
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