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Kroger annual sales up 7.1%

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday reported total sales of $96.8 billion, up 7.1% as compared with the prior fiscal year. After adjusting for the extra week in fiscal 2012, total sales increased to $94.8 billion or 4.9% compared with the prior fiscal year. Excluding fuel, total sales increased 6% over the same period last year. Further adjusting for the extra week, total sales excluding fuel increased 4%.

Identical sales were up 4.5% including fuel centers. For the quarter, comparable sales were up 3.5% (with fuel), marking 37 consecutive quarters of positive identical sales growth, Kroger noted.  

"Consumer confidence was fragile throughout the year," David Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO, told analysts Thursday morning. "But it hit its lowest point this January as customers voiced heightened concern over taxes." And consumer confidence will remain a headwind into 2013, Dillon added, because of four factors: the state of the economy, gas prices, payroll taxes and government policy uncertainty.

That only means Kroger will need to continue to work hard on serving Kroger’s shopper, Dillon suggested. "We remain confident in our ability to delivery growth despite the economic uncertainty. Our team has produced strong results by executing our customer-first strategy over the last five years."

For the full year, trips were up though average marketbasket was down, Kroger reported. Though the number of loyal households and the number of trips out of those households were both on the rise. 

In early-afternoon trading, Kroger’s stock listing was up 3.6% to more than $30.40 per share. 

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MinuteClinic offers discounted physicals to Pop Warner athletes, dancers, cheerleaders

BY Alaric DeArment

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — A nonprofit group that provides youth football, dance and cheerleading programs across the country has named MinuteClinic as its official sports physical provider, MinuteClinic said Thursday.

MinuteClinic, part of CVS Caremark, said sports physicals are offered seven days a week with no appointment necessary at more than 625 CVS/pharmacy stores across the country, and the collaboration, with Pop Warner Little Scholars, is designed to offer parents convenient and affordable options to obtain required sports physicals for their children.

Through the partnership, Pop Warner football, dance and cheerleading team members can take advantage of physicals and obtain a $5 discount. A required coupon and Pop Warner physical fitness and medical history form can be printed from the MinuteClinic website and completed in advance, and must be presented at the time of the physical.

"MinuteClinic is proud to be associated with Pop Warner and the role it plays to develop young people on the field and in the classroom," MinuteClinic chief medical officer Nancy Gagliano said. "Safety on the field and in the gym begins with a pre-participation physical." 

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Walgreens to build nation’s first net-zero energy retail store

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday announced plans to build what the company believes will be the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store, which engineers predict will produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes.  

“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in use of green technology,” stated Thomas Connolly, Walgreens VP facilities development. “We are investing in developing a net-zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores. Because we operate 8,000 stores, we believe our pursuit of green technology can have a significant positive impact on the nation’s environment.”

Engineering estimates — which can vary due to such factors as weather, store operations and systems performance — indicate that the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 256,000 kilowatt hours per year. Walgreens plans to achieve that net-zero energy status by utilizing solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration.

The store will be located in Evanston, Ill., at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street, where demolition of an existing Walgreens store now is under way. The Chicago-area location will allow convenient access for Walgreens engineers based at the company’s headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., to measure the store’s performance for an entire year to determine if the store reaches its goal of net-zero energy use.

Walgreens will attempt to have the store achieve LEED Platinum status, which is the most stringent green designation by the U.S. Green Building Council, and plans to enter the store into the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. The store will be Walgreens’ second showcase project in the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chainwide 20% energy reduction by 2020.

Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its usage by more than 40% through several technologies in the store, including:

  • More than 800 rooftop solar panels;

  • Two wind turbines;

  • Geothermal energy obtained by drilling 550 ft into the ground below the store, where temperatures are more constant and can be tapped to heat or cool the store in winter and summer;

  • LED lighting and daylight harvesting;

  • Carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment; and

  • Energy-efficient building materials.

Over the past year, Walgreens engineers have worked with the city of Evanston and vendors, including Trane, CREE Lighting, Acuity Lighting, Cooper Lighting, CalStar Products, GE Lighting, Geothermal International, SoCore Energy, Wing Power and Camburas and Theodore Architects.

“This planned building development reflects the City of Evanston’s ongoing commitment to the constant improvement of sustainable practices in the natural and built environment and will serve as an excellent example of how responsible development and the environment can be harmoniously combined,” stated Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “Green building is important to Evanston as it is good for business, good for the environment, good for our health and essential to our future. We are honored that Walgreens has chosen our community to build the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store that will be LEED-certified as well.”

Walgreens currently operates two stores that have achieved an LEED certification level of gold and certified; 150 stores utilizing solar power; a store in Oak Park, Ill., using geothermal energy; a distribution center in Waxahachie, Texas, that generates energy through the use of wind; and 400 locations with electric vehicle charging stations. Walgreens stores use 25-watt fluorescent lamps (lowest wattage in the industry), LED cooler and freezer lighting and energy management systems in more than 5,000 locations. In addition, 15 Walgreens distribution centers have achieved net-zero waste, which means revenues from recycling exceed waste expense.

To follow the new store’s two-year journey to achieve net-zero status and the company’s other green initiatives, visit the Net Zero Facebook page

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