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Jean Coutu’s marketing initiatives help fuel Q1

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONGUEUIL, Quebec — Canada’s Jean Coutu Group reported on Tuesday a lift in first quarter retail sales thanks, in part, to its marketing initiatives, Francois Coutu, president and CEO, told analysts during its quarterly conference call.

“Total sales have achieve solid growth in a market which still remains very competitive,” Coutu told analysts.

During the quarter, retail sales increased 4.4% to Canadian $1.06 billion. On a same-store basis, pharmacy sales increased 4.2% during the quarter as front-end sales increased 2.7%.

Net profit during the quarter totaled C$50.6 million, or 27 Canadian cents per share, compared with C$54.1 million, or 29 Canadian cents per share, in the year-ago period. According to Coutu, the decrease is mainly due to a tax provision of C$4.7 million recorded during the first quarter.

During the quarter, the pharmacy retailer put forward several marketing initiatives, such as weekly flyers announcing lower prices. The company also launched additional promotions and contests that were supported by advertising campaigns on TV, radio, weekly flyers and social media.

“[The] increase in sales were significant during these events,” Coutu told analysts.

Coutu noted that, again this year, the company served as the Parents and Kids Fair sponsor in Montreal and Quebec in April and May. During the event, the company promoted its services and products and distributed more than 15,000 kits for new mothers at both the fair and in its stores.

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Amazon creates ‘Prime Day’ to boost subscriptions

BY Mike Troy

SEATTLE — Amazon’s latest gambit to encourage shoppers to buy a $99 Prime membership and goose second quarter sales involves the creation of quasi-holiday called “Prime Day.”

Amazon said it was introducing a new global shopping event called Prime Day on July 15 to commemorate its 20th anniversary. To celebrate the company said it will be offering more deals than on Black Friday for those who pay the $99 annual fee to belong to the Prime free-shipping program.

Throughout the day, Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Austria will be served a steady diet of promotional offers and Amazon.com’s special features called Lightning Deals and Deals of the Day.

“Prime Day is a one-day only event filled with more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members around the globe. Members tell us every day how much they love Prime and we will keep making it better,” said Greg Greeley, vice president Amazon Prime. “If you’re not already a Prime member, you’ll want to join so you don’t miss out on one of the biggest deals extravaganzas in the world.”

To make it easy to participate, the company is offering a free 30-day Prime trial in hopes shoppers will get hooked on a service that now goes well beyond free two-day shipping on 20 million items. More recently, the service has been expanded to offer free same day delivery in 14 metropolitan areas.

Content is also a key part of the Prime value proposition with members receiving unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, more than one million songs, more than one thousand playlists, hundreds of stations with Prime Music and unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive with Prime Photos.

The most recent Prime development involves the introduction of Prime Now one-hour delivery service, for an additional fee, in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Dallas, Manhattan, Miami and London. To get current users talking about the service, part of Prime Day involves a social media component and a contest. Prime members are being given a chance to win a $10,000 gift card by participating in the #PrimeLiving photo contest.

The premise is that Prime members will share some of their happy moments that are reflective of time savings, convenience and access to a broad assortment of merchandise that Prime offers. Members sign into Prime Photos between July 6 and July 15 to submit a photo on the contest page amazon.com/primeliving. Photos will be selected and featured daily on Amazon’s social channels leading up to Prime Day.

One winner will be selected in each country based on the image that most creatively captures a happy moment of #PrimeLiving.

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Walmart Canada launches grocery pickup option

BY Dan Berthiaume

MISSISSAUGA, Canada – Walmart Canada is looking to extend its omnichannel grocery experience.

Starting on July 7, customers will be able to place online grocery orders for select product, including fresh food, for pickup in six stores in the Ottawa area. An additional five stores will offer the service starting on July 21. The pickup fee is $3 and customers will be able to order up to 21 days in advance.

"Among the top priorities for Canadian consumers are saving time and saving money,” said Simon Rodrigue, senior VP, e-commerce, Walmart Canada. "Walmart is committed to making the lives of our customers better by helping them do both. By expanding our online offering to include fresh foods at Walmart's low prices for pickup in-store, we are delivering on that promise. We want to make it easy for customers to order their groceries at home, work or while waiting at the doctor's office so they can enjoy our unbeatable prices while saving a ton of time."

Wal-Mart started piloting a similar service in the U.S. in February 2015 and put it into widescale rollout the following month.

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