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Rite Aid comps rise 2.2% in January

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid’s comps increased 2.2% for the month of January, compared with January 2011, the company said Thursday.

Announcing results of the four-week period that ended Saturday, the retail pharmacy chain said January front-end comps increased 2.7%, while pharmacy comps increased 2.1%, including a negative effect of 230 basis points from new generic introductions. Prescription count at comparable stores increased by 1.6%.

Total drug store sales for the month increased 1.6%, to $1.92 billion, compared with nearly $1.9 in January 2011, with 70% of that coming from prescription drug sales.

For the nine-week period that ended Saturday, comps increased 3%, compared with the same period last year, including a 1.4% increase in front-end comps and a 3.8% increase in pharmacy comps. Total drug store sales for the period were $4.6 billion, a 2.6% increase over the same period last year.

Meanwhile, over the last 12 months, comps increased 1.9%, including a 1% increase in front-end comps and a 2.3% increase in pharmacy comps. Total drug store sales increased 1.4%, to $23.5 billion.

The results beat the expectations of investors and analysts; Guggenheim Partners had anticipated a 0.9% rise in overall comps, while Wall Street investors had expected a 1.3% rise. Guggenheim attributed the higher-than-expected comps to better weather than last year and Walgreens’ departure from the Express Scripts network, which had prompted numerous retailers — including Rite Aid — to seek to draw ESI members from the country’s largest retail pharmacy chain.

In other news, the chain said it was providing Tdap booster vaccines for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, at 3,200 of its nearly 4,700 stores for $71.99. The vaccine is available at Rite Aid stores in California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, the company said.

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CVS Caremark names new SVP government affairs

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark has announced the appointment of Larry Burton as SVP government affairs, effective Feb. 27, bringing more than 30 years of experience in strategy development, public policy and government affairs to the company.

He joins the company from Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C., where he was executive director. In this role, Burton was responsible for developing policy positions and strategies for implementation on matters of priority interest to CEOs in such areas as energy and environment, trade, corporate governance, health care and other major economic issues. Previously, Burton was regional coordinator of the Western Hemisphere (North America) for energy company BP, and had served as the VP U.S. government and international affairs in the company’s Washington, D.C., office. In addition, Burton was the special assistant and associate director in the Office of Management and Budget, where he was senior liaison to the U.S. Senate on budget and regulatory matters.

"Larry’s strong background in government affairs work, as well as his experience in developing and advocating for critical public policy positions both as a staffer for elected government officials and as a representative of large corporations, make him uniquely qualified to lead our Washington, D.C., office and help shape our positions and perspectives on healthcare policy," stated Helena Foulkes, EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer of CVS Caremark.

"The CEOs of the Business Roundtable have all benefitted from Larry’s insight and leadership on many key issues," added BRT president John Engler. "I have watched and admired his steady approach, and he will be a superb addition to the CVS Caremark team as health care in America continues to undergo major change."

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Fresh & Easy overhauls careers website

BY Allison Cerra

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — After expanding its intern recruitment efforts through social media channels, Fresh & Easy said it has launched a new careers website and tools to aid job seekers.

The redesigned careers site provides such features as employee profiles and interviews, behind-the-scenes videos of the facilities and home office, as well as tips on how to be successful within the Fresh & Easy culture, the retailer said. Job seekers also can join Fresh & Easy’s talent network to receive updates when jobs matching their talents become available. What’s more, the company also uses its careers blog to allow visitors to connect with Fresh & Easy and be the first to hear about job openings, receive tips on job searching, as well as professional development opportunities.

"We plan to better recruit America’s top talent by connecting and interacting with job seekers through our various websites and social networks," Fresh & Easy recruitment director Emma Weare said. "Our new Careers site will help job seekers find an open position that aligns with their talents and to learn more about why Fresh & Easy is a great place to work."

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