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Paramount teams up with American Greetings for new film-based greeting cards

BY Allison Cerra

HOLLYWOOD Paramount Licensing and American Greetings have made greeting card consumers “an offer they can’t refuse” – a new line of classic film-based greetings cards containing embedded sound chips and featuring some of the most famous lines in Hollywood history.

The initial line totaling 10 cards will sell for a suggested price of $4.99 retail.  The line will reach stores in late March and early April, with a second shipment being released in June.  They will be sold at drug chains, grocery stores and super centers nationwide, including Wal-Mart and CVS, as well as in American Greetings and Carlton Cards retail stores.

The initial line is based on the following films:  Airplane, Clueless (multi-button for $5.99 suggested retail), Dreamgirls, The Godfather, Major League, The Naked Gun, Old School, Road Trip and Tommy Boy.

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Duane Reade announces Q4 earnings, implementing cost savings program

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Duane Reade announced on Tuesday that in light of the current economic conditions, it is implementing a cost savings program that includes hiring and wage freezes. The news comes as the Manhattan-based retailer posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $17.4 million and a 2.4% boost in total same-store sales for the quarter.

“We are encouraged by our solid performance in 2008, despite increasingly difficult economic conditions during the latter months of the year. Due to these conditions, we are taking steps to reduce our cost structure in 2009 and will continue to assess the impact of macro factors on our business,” said John Lederer, chairman and CEO, who noted that the company remains “cautiously optimistic” in its 2009 outlook.

In an effort to curb costs, the 251-store company is implementing a cost savings program that includes hiring and wage freezes in administrative and certain other areas of the business, as well as the implementation of a number of strategic cost savings initiatives to improve efficiency and eliminate non-value added activities. The moves are expected to result in a cost savings of between $7 million and $10 million in 2009.

For the fourth quarter, total net sales rose 7.6% to $464.5 million from $431.6 million in the year-ago period. Net retail store sales, which exclude pharmacy resale activity, increased 3.4% to $428.6 million. Total same-store sales increased 2.4%, with a front-end same-store sales increase of 1.5%. Pharmacy same-store sales increased 3.6%.

Net loss for the quarter totaled $17.4 million compared with $15.1 million in the previous year.

Operating loss for the quarter totaled $3.6 million compared with operating income of $1.2 million in the year-ago period. The current quarter includes a $3.5 million litigation settlement charge and an increase in other expenses.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, the company is testing new ideas for store layout and design in various locations throughout the city, which includes more modern-looking signage, wider aisles, improved lighting, a fresh food offering, and a repositioned pharmacy department.

By year-end, the company expects to have about 30 new or renovated stores.

From a signage standpoint, it will begin to rebrand the bulk of the chain in the coming months in a “cost efficient” manner to project more continuity.

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RG Medical introduces no-mercury glass thermometers

BY Michael Johnsen

WIXOM, Mich. RG Medical Diagnostics is looking to bring back the reliability of glass thermometers — without the mercury. According to the company, glass thermometers administered orally or rectally provide better readings than do the algorithms provided by today’s digital thermometer.

And in today’s price-conscious economy, that old reliability of glass thermometers comes at a value price point. The new thermometer, branded Geratherm, is manufactured in Germany using a patented nontoxic substitute for mercury.

As the only supplier offering glass thermometers, RG Medical believes the new product has a potential of driving significant incremental sales to the category, company executives reported.

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