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Retail clinic growth slowing down? Not a chance

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that Target is looking to expand its retail-based clinic business this year is yet one more indicator that reports of the demise of retail clinic growth have been greatly exaggerated.

(THE NEWS: Target to expand its retail clinic presence. For the full story, click here)

As the article states, Target, which opened its first clinic in 2006, is looking to open up eight new locations this September. It already operates 28 locations in Minnesota and Maryland.

It wasn’t so long ago — April to be exact — that CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic indicated that it could double its current number of clinics in five years.

Why the growth? Well, aside from the aging population and a shortage of primary care physicians, a major catalyst is healthcare reform, which will mean that 32 million people who currently are uninsured will have healthcare coverage. With emergency rooms already overflowing, and primary care physicians already over-extended, having a retail clinic nearby where patients can receive convenient, quality and affordable health care will only become increasingly important.

Meanwhile, RediClinic, which has 22 clinics in H-E-B stores in Houston and Austin, Texas, is cranking up its marketing efforts and has tapped former Duane Reade executive Jeff Thompson as VP marketing. Thompson will be responsible for RediClinic’s consumer and partner marketing activities, including developing and implementing strategic customer acquisition/retention programs, new product delivery and brand strategy.

Thompson most recently served as VP marketing for Duane Reade.

Clearly, there continues to be significant growth opportunities for clinics — both in terms of the number of clinic locations and the scope of services offered within the clinics. As mentioned earlier, there are 32 million reasons why the growth will be quite dramatic.

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‘Positive traffic and a strong finish’ aid May sales for Fred’s

BY Allison Cerra

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Discounter Fred’s noted a 5% rise in its fiscal sales for the month, which ended May 29.

The chain said sales totaled $141.5 million, up from $134.9 million in May 2009. Comparable-store sales for the month rose 3.5%, compared with an increase of 0.2% in the same period last year.

Fred’s total sales for the first four months of fiscal 2010 increased 3% to $613.1 million. On a comparable-store basis, year-to-date sales increased 3.5% on top of an increase of 2.1% in the same period last year.

CEO Bruce Efird said, “We are pleased that May comparable-store sales came in at the upper end of our expectations, highlighted by positive traffic and a strong finish before the Memorial Day holiday. This performance reflected a number of positive factors, including good results from our May advertising circulars, solid comparable-script growth in our pharmacy department and continued success with the new sales-driving initiatives we are implementing this year. Despite economic uncertainty and high unemployment, the sales momentum building thus far in 2010 positions Fred’s well to capitalize on our customers’ desire for savings, selection and convenience.”

Fred’s operates 670 discount general merchandise stores, including 24 franchised Fred’s stores in the southeastern United States.

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Sandoz closes Oriel Therapeutics deal

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. Sandoz has acquired privately owned U.S. drug maker Oriel Therapeutics, the generics arm of Novartis said Thursday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sandoz said its purchase of Oriel would give it access to such drug-delivery technologies as FreePath and the Solis disposable dry-powder inhaler, itself based on FreePath technology.

“The closing of the Oriel Therapeutics acquisition is an important milestone in our aspiration to a global leadership position in differentiated, high-value respiratory products,” said Don DeGolyer, president of Sandoz’s U.S. division. “We welcome the Oriel employees into our organization and look forward to our ongoing work together to strengthen Sandoz’s position in the respiratory market.”

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