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Meijer, NuVal sponsor weight-loss competition

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A weight-loss competition sponsored by mass merchandise retailer Meijer and nutritional scoring company NuVal is enlisting 60,000 team members who will compete for $15,000 in prize money over three months.

Meijer said Thursday the Nu-Me Weight Loss Challenge would incentivize the team members from across the five states the retailer serves with $1,000 grand prizes for one team in each of eight divisions — those divisions being Northern, Mid-Michigan, Eastern, Western, Central and Southern regions, as well as supply chain and corporate divisions. Meijer operates 199 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Meijer has used the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System in its stores since 2009; the system scores foods and beverages based on various nutrients and other nutritional factors.

"Health and wellness is an important cornerstone of what we stand for at Meijer," Meijer lead dietician and healthy living adviser Shari Steinbach said. "NuVal has been a great partner for many years, offering a simple tool that helps shoppers make healthier food choices. We’re excited to offer team members an opportunity to engage with NuVal in a fun and informative way that will help them make healthy changes in their lives."

All team members were required to get verified weigh-ins at a Meijer pharmacy or at the company’s Grand Rapids, Mich., headquarters. The competition began on March 1 and lasts through late May and includes weekly activities through an internal portal that allows team members to win prizes for participating whether they’ve received a verified weigh-in or not. Through that portal, they will have access to weight loss strategies, NuVal tips for healthy eating and a feature that allows them to track their daily eating habits and exercise, as well as weekly newsletters with health and wellness ideas.

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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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