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GNC appoints industry vet to SVP merchandising post

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH GNC on Monday announced the appointment of its second drug store veteran to its executive team — Robert Kral as SVP merchandising.

Kral is a 27-year veteran of Walgreens, where he rose from store pharmacist to store manager, district manager and operations VP positions to head, as SVP purchasing, merchandising and marketing initiatives for the $59-billion company. He left Walgreens in 2007.

Kral will be reporting to GNC’s other drug store vet, Beth Kaplan, president and chief merchandising and marketing officer, who boasts Rite Aid on her resume.

“[Kral] is a great retailer with a demonstrated track record in both operations and merchandising,” Kaplan stated. “He has extensive category experience in nutritional supplements. As a former member of Walgreens’ strategic planning committee, he also has a strong understanding of strategic decision making at a major specialty retailer. At the same time, [Kral’s] 12 years of experience in operations give him a clear understanding of what drives sales at the store level as well.”

“GNC’s smart merchandising, science-based product development and very strong store base allow it to dominate the supplements retailing segment,” Kral said. “But there is clearly more room to grow, and I am very excited to be part of the GNC team that will make that happen.”

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Zicam maker responds to FDA warning letter

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK With the agency’s latest warning letter, one thing is becoming clear: There’s a new sheriff in town. And this sheriff isn’t packing a pea-shooter.

 

Within eight weeks, the Food and Drug Administration has issued two warning letters to two companies initiating two voluntary product recalls in the over-the-counter self-care arena.Critics have been clamoring for a more aggressive and decisive FDA for some time, pointing to public-safety snafus like the contaminated heparin that leaked into the U.S. market, or the recent pervasive peanut recall prompted by salmonella contamination.

 

But swinging to such an extreme, heavy-handed approach may have its own adverse events.

For starters, there is potential collateral damage to industries on the whole. The publicized warning letters that resulted in the recall of a number of Hydroxycut products and a pair of Zicam SKUs has called into question the regulation and safety of the dietary supplement and the homeopathy industries, respectively. An Associated Press report published Thursday was critical of both industries. And debating whether or not that writer was entirely accurate in his depiction of the industry is of no consequence. The fact is the AP reaches more than 7,500 consumer media outlets between paper, radio and television. And who doesn’t believe what they read?

Then there is the actual question as to how heavy is heavy-handed? The Hydroxycut recall was based on 23 adverse event reports; Zicam a little more than 130. Even considering that those events are typically under-reported, they are nowhere near the 13,000-plus adverse events associated with Metabolife’s ephedra supplements that prompted the agency several years back to issue an out and out sales ban on that ingredient. Factor in the number of doses consumed by millions over the years for each of the ingredients, and the corresponding adverse events may seem less dramatic, and certainly less than what’s accepted across other product categories.

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Wegmans set to open store in Va.

BY Michael Johnsen

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. Wegmans announced earlier this week that it will open the doors to its new 138,655-sq.-ft. Fredericksburg, Va., location this Sunday.

The Fredericksburg store, which employs 500, will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until midnight. The store’s pharmacy also will be available to customers every day of the week, operating from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

The store’s Market Cafe offers restaurant-quality foods prepared by executive chef Douglas Jarman and his staff. Everything from specialty coffee drinks to hot panini sandwiches, burritos, an Asian-inspired Wokery Bar, freshly made sushi, pizza and subs is available in the cafe. Customers can choose to take out or dine in at the mezzanine-level cafe, with indoor and outdoor seating for 500. There’s also a Food Bar that seats 19, where chefs prepare fresh seafood and meat dishes made to order.

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