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Montini’s promotion will help move Rite Aid in right direction

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Newly promoted Rite Aid EVP merchandising Tony Montini isn’t new to the company, having served brief stints there in the late 1980s and early 2000s. But the retailer’s latest initiatives, and the leading roles that Montini and SVP merchandising Bryan Shirtliff will take in them, are the kinds of things that will let the two really leave their mark on the company — and on the industry.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid appoints new EVP merchandising. For the full story, click here)

Rite Aid has had its share of troubles over the last several years, but it already has seen a rise in same-store sales. And the promotions of Montini and Shirtliff, who will oversee the chain’s customer segmentation initiatives, new store formats and the Wellness+ loyalty program, couldn’t have come at a better time.

It’s safe to call Wellness+ a success, thanks to its growth to 36 million members. Meanwhile, the co-branded Rite Aid/Save-A-Lot stores saw comparable-store growth of 83% in fourth quarter 2011, and the company recently unveiled its Wellness store format, with stores in six markets in western Pennsylvania and the New Jersey coast. As a result, according to the company’s fourth quarter 2011 and fiscal 2011 earnings statement, it expected the situation to improve in 2012, anticipating increased chain-wide and same-store sales and reduced losses.

Should the company prove truly successful in its decade-long bid to restore its former greatness, it is likely that these men and the teams and initiatives they are leading, will be remembered as among the critical heroes who helped usher in a corporate Renaissance in Camp Hill.

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Inaccurate meta-analyses cause dietary supplement industry to take a hit

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Calcium causes heart attacks! Vitamin E kills! Vitamin D makes your eyeballs explode! OK, the last headline was just made up, but these are the kind of B-movie headlines many of these inaccurate meta-analyses generate, especially across the dietary supplement industry.

(THE NEWS: Council for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Association respond to British Medical Journal meta-analysis. For the full story, click here.)

That means these stories should be of little importance. The problem is, the lay press and general public don’t know that. A few years back when one of these meta-analyses suggested people who supplement with vitamin E have a greater chance of dying, the category took a 30% hit. And when that particular meta-analysis was faulted by fellow researchers as having bigger holes than a doughnut, the story already had dropped to page eight in the lay press. By then, the damage already had been done. The general public never really caught wind of the fact that it was safe, even healthy, to supplement their diets with vitamin E again.

What IS important is the fact that both the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the Natural Products Association started reaching out to the press the same day this story hit the wires, and consequently before those B-movie headlines would have been created. Sales of all vitamins totaled $6.5 billion for the 52 weeks ended March 19 across all channels, including Walmart, according to the Nielsen Group, and are growing at a rate of 3.6%. The allocation to supplements like calcium and vitamin D products run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

And CRN and NPA were on hand to help set the record straight before these popular supplements were unjustly maligned.

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Report: Stop & Shop to implement mobile shopping app

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — About one month after launching a mobile application that syncs customers’ loyalty cards to provide access to online accounts, Stop & Shop is forging ahead with new technology, according to published reports.

Three Stop & Shop stores in the Boston area on Monday will launch a software app from Modiv Media that allows customers with iPhones (iPhone 3GS or higher) to scan grocery items and add them to an electronic shopping cart, the Boston Globe reported. Modiv Media plans to offer an app that runs on Google’s Android operating system later this year.

How it works: By aiming the phone’s camera at the bar code on a product package, the customer can see the price and add it to an electronic shopping cart. Once shopping is done, the app relays the information to a checkout register, where the customer can pay with cash or a credit card. The app speeds up the checkout process by eliminating the need for a store employee to manually scan the items.

Modiv Media already offers the same service through handheld self-checkout scanners found in 350 supermarkets in the United States, including local Stop & Shop outlets.

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