Reports: Kroger to expand Little Clinic footprint as part of healthcare play
NEW YORK — As the implementation of healthcare reform looms, Kroger is sharpening its focus on health care by not only stocking its shelves with healthier food options but also is gearing up to add 50 Little Clinic locations next year, according to published reports.
According to a Memphis Daily News report, Kroger is planning to open as many 50 Little Clinic locations next year. There are currently about 106 clinic locations and, by the end of 2013, the company looks to have nearly 120 clinics across six states.
Aside from expanding its footprint, the clinic operator also is revamping its clinics with updated facilities, the report states. The new clinics include two exam rooms, a private waiting area and an electronic registration kiosk.
“Now they really look like a little doctor’s office inside the store,” Ken Patric, chief medical officer for The Little Clinic, was quoted as saying. “They are permanently built in and are much quieter.”
But the company’s healthcare play doesn’t stop there. In a presentation to analysts in New York on Oct. 30, Robert Clark, group VP nonperishables, said that, based on consumer insights gained through its market research partnership with Dunnhumby USA, the company has been investing in healthier food options, according to a WCPO Cincinnati report.
“When we talk to customers, they’re telling us one of their top concerns is around health care,” Clark was quoted as telling analysts. “Health and wellness is dominating their life. It’s in the media every day. The benefits we all have are under fire, and they’re looking for solutions.”
Harris Teeter posts fiscal 2013 results
MATTHEWS, N.C. — Grocer Harris Teeter posted an increase in fiscal 2013 sales and same-store sales.
For fiscal 2013, sales rose 3.8% to $4.71 billion from $4.54 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales for the year increased 2.23%.
Fourth quarter sales rose 4.5% to $1.19 billion from $1.14 billion in the year-ago period. The increase in sales was fueled by an increase in same-store sales and sales from new stores, partially offset by store closings. Same-store sales increased 1.49% for the quarter.
Net earnings for the year totaled $107.9 million, compared with net earnings of $82.5 million for fiscal 2012. Net earnings for fiscal 2013 were comprised of earnings from continuing operations of $109 million, or $2.21 per diluted share, and losses from discontinued operations of $1.1 million. The merger related and acquisition costs reduced earnings from continuing operations after tax in fiscal 2013 by $6.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share.
Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $21.1 million, or 43 cents per diluted share. The merger related and acquisition costs reduced net earnings in the fourth quarter by $5.9 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, the company stated. Net earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 totaled $22.8 million and were comprised of earnings from continuing operations of $23.7 million, or 48 cents per diluted share and losses from discontinued operations of $0.9 million.
“We are pleased with our results for fiscal 2013 and the opportunities ahead of us with the Kroger merger and our recent store acquisitions. Our pricing and promotional strategies were effective during fiscal 2013 in driving unit sales and customer visits. On a comparable-store basis, we experienced increased unit sales compared to fiscal 2012 and our store brand penetration continues to improve. We believe these positive results are attributable to our continuing commitment to our customers to deliver outstanding values and excellent customer service,” stated Thomas W. Dickson, chairman and CEO.
On July 8, the company and Kroger entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Kroger will acquire all outstanding shares of the company for $49.38 per share in cash. The terms of the merger agreement were approved by the boards of both companies and has been approved by the company’s shareholders; however, it remains subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2013.
On Sept. 12, the company announced that its operating subsidiary, Harris Teeter, entered into an agreement with Greenbax Enterprises, and certain of its subsidiaries to purchase six Piggly Wiggly store locations and one future store location in the Charleston, S.C. area. The acquisition was completed with five of the locations being re-opened shortly after the acquisition date. The remaining two locations are expected to be opened during fiscal 2014.
NY city council votes in favor of raising cigarette purchase age to 21
NEW YORK — New York City Council voted on Wednesday to hike the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 18 years to 21 years.
The bill also increases the minimum purchasing age to 21 years for certain tobacco products and electronic-vapor smokes, according to published reports. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 30 days to sign the bills into law and the minimum age bill will take effect 180 days after enactment.
“Between 2001 and 2011, New York City cut the proportion of public high school students who smoke by more than half. However, the decline in youth smoking in our city has stalled. We know that tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking so it’s critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start. By increasing the smoking age to 21 years we will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking,” Bloomberg said.
According to health officials, more than 80% of the adult smokers in New York City began smoking before the age of 21 years. So, the new restrictions could protect teens and prevent many from ever starting to smoke.