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Rite Aid to host caregiver expo with GSK, Drug Store News

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid is set to host the Rite Aid Caregiver Expo this weekend, the chain announced Wednesday morning, in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline and Trib Total Media.

“We and our Expo partners are providing caregivers with convenient and invaluable best practices and information because we know that it sometimes can be challenging to care for a loved one,” stated Mark de Bruin, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy. “At the Expo, caregivers will have the opportunity to get advice directly from healthcare professionals as well as take advantage of a variety of free resources.”

The Rite Aid Caregiver Expo will exclusively house the following resources:

  • Pharmacists, financial planners and legal counsel available to answer questions and provide helpful hints
  • Representatives from hospice care and nursing home facilities
  • Caregiving associations
  • Advice from experts on how to juggle professional and caregiving responsibilities
  • Demonstrations and information on smoking cessation, health and beauty products and healthy eating
  • Information on basic care, disease states and recent research finds
  • Free blood pressure screenings
  • Free product and medication samples

The event has been organized by Drug Store News.

The Rite Aid Caregiver Expo will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Hall D of the Pittsburgh Convention Center.

Rite Aid operates 175 stores in the Pittsburgh metro area and approximately 611 in Pennsylvania.

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Winn-Dixie reports Q1 sales growth

BY DSN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores this week reported first-quarter 2008 net sales of $1.6 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent over the first quarter 2007. The company reported identical-store sales increased 0.2 percent, compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported that gross profit on sales in the first quarter was $446.4 million, an increase of $21.9 million compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2007. As a percentage of sales, gross margin was 27.5 percent in the first quarter compared to 26.4 percent in the same period of fiscal 2007, an increase of 110 basis points. According to the company, the improvement in gross margin was due primarily to a planned reduction in promotional spending in the first quarter of the current fiscal year and to a lesser extent operational improvements that reduced costs at its distribution facilities.

The company reported adjusted EBITDA of $19.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, compared to a loss of $11.1 million in the same period of fiscal 2007. The company incurred a net loss for the quarter of $0.8 million compared with a net loss of $24.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, an improvement of $23.8 million.

“We are very pleased with our financial progress this quarter, especially improvements in adjusted EBITDA and gross margin, which reflects the operational changes we are making while we continue to execute our long-term turnaround plan,” Winn-Dixie chairman, chief executive officer and president, Peter Lynch said. “In addition to the store remodels, we are working to improve our competitive position by enhancing the conditions at all our stores, refining our merchandising and promotional activity, managing costs, training our dedicated associates and improving customer service.”

For the fiscal 2008 year, Winn-Dixie expects adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $90 million to $115 million. Identical-store sales are expected to be slightly positive. Gross margin in fiscal 2008 is expected to be slightly higher than in fiscal 2007.

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HearAtLast to open at two Wal-Mart locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO HearAtLast Holdings, which owns and operates a chain of hearing stores that sells digital hearing aids and testing devices, plans to open two new retail locations in two Toronto area Wal-Marts.

The new locations, which mark the ninth and 10th clinics, are a direct result of the company exercising its option under a master licensing deal with Wal-Mart International. The deal allows HearAtLast to open hearing aid clinics within several Wal-Mart stores throughout Canada.

HearAtLast facilities sell hearing aids and also offer complimentary screening tests, clinical hearing tests, instant custom MP3 headphones and custom hearing protection. After a prescription is approved, the independent on-site audiologists and hearing aid practitioners dispense a hearing aid in about an hour.

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