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Mail-order launch sends co. into new year

BY Antoinette Alexander

The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. kicked off 2010 with a new leader at the helm and a focus on improving business. Filling the role of president and CEO, as of Feb. 8, is Ron Marshall, who succeeds executive chairman Christian Haub, who had been serving as interim CEO.

According to A&P, the fit made sense not only because Marshall understands the Northeast marketplace, but also because he has broad experience in the retail industry, including food retail. His previous experience includes serving as president and CEO at Borders Group, as the CEO of Nash Finch and previously as EVP and CFO of Pathmark.

As Marshall settles into his new role, there’s no doubt that the company has its sights fixed on improving the business. As with many food retailers, the challenging economy has taken its toll on A&P. The good news is that A&P has identified areas that need improvement and is working to make the necessary changes.

As explained in the third-quarter conference call with analysts, the grocer is working to simplify its promotions and improve pricing. “We will be making further modifications during the fourth quarter, as we want to shift some of our spending away from promotions entirely and into better everyday shelf prices, as well as better focus our advertising on the really excellent values we offer to consumers on a regular basis,” Haub told analysts during a Jan. 12 earnings call.

A&P

Headquarters: Montvale, N.J. 2009 sales: $9.3 billion*% change vs. 2008: -2.1%*No. of stores: 435No. of stores with Rx: 251Avg. store size: 42,200 sq. ft.Rx sales: $585.9 million*% of sales from Rx: 6.3%*Sales per store: $21.4 million

* Projected; fiscal year 2009 ended Feb. 28, 2009, results not available at press timeSource: Drug Store News

Meanwhile, pharmacy continues to be a significant focus, as the company operates about 250 retail pharmacies and has more than 1,000 licensed pharmacists. During the 2009 cold-and-flu season, A&P kicked off an aggressive flu vaccine program in partnership with ESI Medical that enabled shoppers to obtain free and discounted seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccinations. In addition, A&P is promoting its recently debuted mail-order pharmacy for the delivery of chronic and/or maintenance medications.

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Schnucks’ O’Brien to serve on Department of Agriculture advisory committee

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS An executive from Schnuck Markets will serve on an advisory committee of the Department of Agriculture, Schnucks said this week.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Schnucks VP produce and floral Mike O’Brien would be one of 25 people appointed to a two-year term on the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. O’Brien is also vice chairman of the Produce Marketing Association.

 

“I am honred to represent Schnuck Markets and the retail produce industry as a member of this committee,” O’Brien said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference for families across the nation.”

The committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the secretary of agriculture on industry issues related to fruits and vegetables.

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Gilead commences phase 3 trial for single-tablet HIV treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences has started a late-stage clinical trial of an investigational 4-in-1 treatment for HIV, the drug maker said.

Gilead announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial of its “Quad” HIV drug, a single-tablet treatment that combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. The study will compare the Quad regimen with the standard of care among adults with HIV-1 who have not taken antiretroviral treatments. The company is also investigating cobicistat as a standalone boosting agent for antiretroviral drugs.

“We are pleased to announce that the Quad phase 3 clinical program is underway,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said. “Efficacy and safety results from the phase 2 study suggest that the Quad may represent an important new option for patients with HIV.”

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