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Reports: FTC to discuss retail clinics, telemedicine during public workshop

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission is holding a public workshop in March to examine U.S. healthcare competition issues as healthcare spending swallows up a significant part of federal and state budgets. Among the topics up for discussion, according to reports, are retail clinics and telemedicine.

According to reports, the two-day workshop will be held March 20 and 21 in Washington, D.C. and will be webcast on the FTC’s site.

During the workshop, the FTC intends to looks at innovations in health care delivery, such as retail clinics and telemedicine, and the potential benefits that such models can provide. It will also consider the impact of regulatory frameworks on their development.

Additional topics will include —

  • Professional regulation of health care providers;
  • Advancements in health care technology;
  • Measuring and assessing quality of health care; and
  • Price transparency of health care services.

 

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Delhaize America continues ‘positive momentum’ in Q4

BY Antoinette Alexander

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Delhaize America, whose banners include Food Lion and Hannaford, posted an increase in fourth-quarter and full-year revenues as it completed the Food Lion phase roll out during the year.

“Since joining as CEO in November 2013, I have gained a thorough understanding of our Group, of the different markets in which we operate and of our banners. Our Group has strong foundations, with leadership positions in nearly all our markets, a solid balance sheet, and passionate associates. Since the beginning of the year, we continue to have positive momentum at Delhaize America while facing challenges in Belgium and Serbia,” stated Frans Muller, CEO of Delhaize Group. “In 2014, we will further differentiate our offer and support our core banners by focusing on maintaining or strengthening our local leadership positions. We will pursue operational efficiencies and exercise continued capital discipline in order to fund this.”

For the quarter, revenues at Delhaize America increased by 2.8% to $4.3 billion. Comparable store sales growth was 2.8% despite retail inflation turning negative (-0.4%) as a result of additional price investments due to the launch of Phase 4 in the second quarter and Phase 5 in November at Food Lion and an overall low inflationary environment, the company stated.

Underlying operating profit decreased by 14.1% to $128 million due to a lower gross margin resulting from price investments and due to higher SG&A. Underlying operating margin for the quarter was 3.0% compared to 3.6% in 2012.

For 2013, U.S. operations generated revenues of $17.1 billion, an increase of 1.9% compared with 2012 in local currency. Comparable store sales increased by 2%. In 2013, Food Lion completed its phase repositioning by implementing Phase 4 in May 2013 (178 stores) and Phase 5 (169 stores) in November 2013.

The U.S. gross margin decreased by 15 basis points to 25.9% as a result of price investments partly offset by improved procurement conditions, at both Food Lion and Hannaford.

Selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of revenues increased by 6 basis points to 22.6% mainly as a result of the reduction of the U.S. bonus in 2012, largely offset by cost savings.

Underlying operating margin of our U.S. business decreased by 29 basis points to 3.7% (4.0% in 2012) as a result of price investments and slightly higher SG&A. Underlying operating profit decreased by 5.3% to $639 million (€481 million). Operating margin was 3.4% mainly as a result of $53 million (€40 million) reorganization, fixed asset impairment charges and store closing expenses.

In separate company news, the Belgian international food retailer had announced the appointment of Marc Croonen as chief human resources officer of Delhaize Group. Croonen, formerly human resources director of International Paper for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, will also become a member of the Delhaize Group executive committee. 

He will start effective May 1, 2014 and lead the Group’s HR, sustainability, and internal communications functions, succeeding Nicolas Hollanders who is leaving the company. The IT functions that had been reporting to Hollanders will now report to Pierre Bouchut, the Group CFO.

In addition, Dirk Van den Berghe, CEO of Delhaize Belgium and Luxembourg, has been appointed to the Delhaize Group executive committee.

 

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Walmart, Walmart Foundation and U.S. Conference of Mayors launch manufacturing innovation fund

BY Antoinette Alexander

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors have launched the $10 million Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund.

Eligible non-profit organizations can apply for grants of $100,000 or more, funded by the Walmart Foundation, to help create solutions to challenges many companies face with on-shoring and growing U.S. manufacturing.

The first year of the initiative will focus on innovation in textiles manufacturing and common manufacturing processes that apply to a broad range of consumer goods, including small motor manufacturing and tooling for injection molding. Anticipated participating organizations include research and academic institutions, think tanks and other non-profit entities focused on innovations in manufacturing.

“Through the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, we hope to help remove the barriers to revitalizing and growing U.S. manufacturing, creating jobs and building a stronger American economy,” stated Cindi Marsiglio, VP of U.S. sourcing and domestic manufacturing for Walmart. “This is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s broader commitment to foster new ideas and jobs to promote strong communities and grow America’s manufacturing footprint.”

The announcement is part of Walmart’s commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products that support American manufacturing. The Boston Consulting Group estimates the initiative will add 1 million jobs in the United States.

Applications are due April 22. Selected proposals will receive grants ranging from $100,000 and above for award periods of at least one year, with the option of reapplying for continued funding. Each applicant will need sponsorship from the mayor of a USCM member city.

 

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