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MinuteClinic opens first clinics in Nebraska

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark has announced that the first MinuteClinic in Nebraska are opening this week inside select CVS/pharmacy stores.

Two clinics opened Wednesday in Lincoln and one is opening Thursday in Omaha. A third clinic in Lincoln and three more clinics in the Omaha area will open later this month. MinuteClinic now has clinics in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

"We are excited to bring MinuteClinic's high quality, convenient and affordable medical services to Nebraska, our first expansion state in 2014," stated Andrew Sussman, president, MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer, CVS Caremark Corp.  

"We anticipate an increasing demand for services in Nebraska and believe MinuteClinic can be part of the solution to help broaden access to care."

Sussman added that MinuteClinic is committed to helping patients find a medical home and believes it can play a complementary role in working with primary care providers.

"About 50% of our visits occur on evenings, weekends and holidays when patients may not be able to get an appointment with their primary care provider," Sussman stated. "And about half of the patients we see at MinuteClinic do not have a personal physician, due in large part to the severe shortage of primary care doctors in the U.S."

Patients who visit MinuteClinic without a primary care provider are provided a list of physicians in the area who are accepting new patients, stated Sussman.
 

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Fred’s Super Dollar reports July sales, projects Q2 loss

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred's Super Dollar on Thursday reported July sales of $148 million, representing an increase of 4%. Comparable store sales for the month increased 0.7% on top of a 2.5% increase in the same period last year. 
 
For the second quarter ended Aug. 2, Fred's posted an increase of 2% to $490.6 million. On a comparable store basis, second quarter sales decreased 0.1% versus an increase of 2.2% for the year-earlier period.
 
"We are pleased that Fred's returned to positive comparable-store sales for July, reflecting stronger trends in general merchandise sales and improved customer traffic, as recent changes to our marketing plan have gained additional traction," stated Bruce Efird, Fred's CEO. "General merchandise departments that reported better performance in July included health aids, housewares, flooring, stationery, toys, auto and hardware and several consumable departments," he said. "With our new ad program and marketing strategy now in place, we expect these positive trends to continue in the back half of the year.
 
"In July, we also rolled out a clearance and inventory right-sizing program in all of our stores to address unproductive inventory and exit or reduce product categories that do not align with our convenience center model," Efird added. 
 
Fred's also realized ongoing sales and script growth in the pharmacy department during July, with the company's best monthly comparable-script growth of the year, Efird said. However, Fred's pharmacy department margins for July continued to be pressured by very significant vendor cost increases on both brand and generic drugs. This cost pressure in the pharmacy accounted for a drop of approximately 225 basis points in pharmacy department gross margin. On a positive note, Fred's finalized a new pharmacy prime vendor distribution agreement. "With this key strategic relationship, we have a new alliance that supports our rapid growth and addresses the issues experienced over the past yeaer, while restoring Fred's pharmacy department margin and signficantly improving the profitability of its specialty pharmacy business," Efird said. 
 
"With the transitional costs associated with implementing our convenience center model, together with the vendor-related cost pressures on pharmacy, we now expect to report a loss for the second quarter in the range of $0.15 to $0.20 per share, exclusive of reserves for disposition of inventory and stores that do not fit our convenience model," Efird continued. "However, the drivers of performance for the balance of the year will be the pharmacy department's new vendor agreement, store shipments returning to forecast and the continuation of our new marketing programs. We plan to outline these strategic changes and our expectations for future performance on August 28, when we announce second quarter results and provide updated guidance for the remainder of 2014."
 
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Sales of Nivea, Eucerin increase during first half of 2014 at Beiersdorf

BY Antoinette Alexander

HAMBURG, Germany — Beiersdorf released results for the first half of the year and recorded a lift in sales of Nivea and Eucerin brands in the consumer business segment.

The consumer business segment recorded organic sales growth of 5% in the first half of the year. The strong euro led to a reduction in this figure of 5.1 percentage points as a result of negative effects from currency translation, the company stated. Structural changes reduced growth by 0.1 percentage points. In nominal terms, sales therefore decreased by 0.2% to €2,637 million.

Nivea sales rose by 6.1% compared with the previous year. In the first half of 2014, Eucerin continued its strong sales performance of the previous year, recording a 6.8% increase in sales. La Prairie recorded sales growth of 7.0%.

Consumer sales in the Americas were down 4% on the previous year (€464 million), due to exchange rate changes for the U.S. dollar and the key South American currencies. Organic sales in the Americas region rose by 4.8%. Sales in North America were up 4.2% on the previous year.

Organic group sales in the first half of the year were up 5.0% on the prior year. Growth was reduced by 4.8 percentage points due to exchange rate effects. Nominal group sales were up 0.2% on the previous year, at €3,171 million (previous year: €3,163 million). The consumer business segment recorded organic growth of 5.0%, while sales grew organically by 5.4%.

Looking ahead, the company stated that it expect slightly higher growth in the United States economy in 2014. Alongside increased consumer spending due to a lower unemployment rate, it anticipates higher public spending.
 

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