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Safeway, Target and Walgreens among retailers to form Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Retail Industry Leaders Association, along with several of America's most recognized retail brands, on Wednesday launched the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center. 

The R-CISC is an independent organization, the centerpiece of which is a Retail Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Among those companies participating with and supportive of the R-CISC are American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, J. C. Penney, Lowe's Companies, Nike, Safeway, Target, VF Corp. and Walgreens.  

“We are highly focused on protecting our customers and maintaining their trust. That’s why we have joined the R-CISC and are committed to sharing best practices and information with our peers and other stakeholders in order to strengthen our collective defenses against potential threats,” stated Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens and vice chairman of RILA.

Through the R-CISC, retailers are sharing cyber threat information among themselves and, via analysts, with public and private stakeholders, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The R-CISC will also provide advanced training and education and research resources for retailers.

“Retailers place extremely high priority on finding solutions to combat cyber attacks and protect customers," stated Sandy Kennedy, president RILA. "In the face of persistent cyber criminals with increasingly sophisticated methods of attack, the R-CISC is a comprehensive resource for retailers to receive and share threat information, advance leading practices and develop research relevant to fighting cyber crimes.” 

In order to create a structure tailored to the needs of the retail industry, the R-CISC was developed with input from more than 50 of America’s largest retailers, and in consultation with key stakeholders including federal law enforcement, government agencies and subject matter experts.

“We have seen a sharp increase in the number of malicious actors attempting to access personal information or compromise the systems we all rely on, in the retail industry and elsewhere,” commented Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Protection and Programs Directorate. “We continue to work with the private sector to create shared situational awareness of potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center will further enhance DHS’s collaboration with this important sector of the American economy with information and resources that can help companies keep their networks and the information stored on them safe and secure.”

RILA established partnerships with many federal agencies through the formation of the R-CISC and has support from U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service.

 

 

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Community Health Network expands its clinical partnership with Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

INDIANAPOLIS — The clinical collaboration between Community Health Network and Walgreens is rapidly expanding across central Indiana, Community Health Network announced recently. Seven additional Healthcare Clinics at select Walgreens sites are being integrated with Community Health Network to provide additional points of access for consumers who are looking for coordinated health care. 

“Healthcare systems are seeing the value of offering a retail connection for consumers as part of their delivery of care across the continuum," commented Alan London, VP strategic clinical partnerships, Walgreens. “As consumers continue to take more control of their healthcare decisions and shift toward cost and quality comparisons of providers, the collaboration between Walgreens and Community Health Network will offer another resource for finding the level of healthcare they need. For example, a consumer can be seen by a nurse practitioner at Walgreens for what appears to be a minor illness and then have the option to be referred to a Community physician specialist if more advanced treatments are needed. The process is comprehensive.”

“The healthcare industry is changing and that change is being driven by the needs of consumers,” stated Paul Wilson, senior medical director at Community Physician Network. “Consumers are looking closely at pricing and ease of access to quality health care. Our collaboration with Walgreens is helping us achieve our goal of being a high-value provider," he said. "We offer hundreds of quality physicians and innovative sites for inpatient and outpatient care and Walgreens is a very successful retail company with a great connection to consumers on a broad scale. Together, we can meet the healthcare needs of residents across Central Indiana.”

Each Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens location in the collaboration provides patients who need additional care access to a full continuum of Community Health Network providers and services, including primary or specialty physicians with Community Physician Network; Community MedCheck, imaging and lab services. 

Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens offers immediate treatment for minor illnesses and injuries and will also help Community Health Network patients manage the treatment of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma.

 

 

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Winter woes contribute to Walmart’s weak Q1 results

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart continues to envision flat same-store sales at its U.S. stores after reporting weaker than expected profits on weak U.S. sales results that were negatively affected by a winter that wouldn’t end.

Net income declined 5% to $3.6 billion and earnings per share of $1.10 were five cents below analysts’ expectations and below the company’s prior year first-quarter profit of $1.14. Even excluding the effects of the severe winter, estimated by Walmart to be three cents a share, the company’s profit figure would have been below the prior year amount, although with the guidance range of $1.10 to $1.20.

Sales at Walmart’s U.S. stores increased 2% to $67.9 billion although same-store sales declined 0.1% after declining 1.4% during the first quarter the prior year. Sales at Sam’s Club, including fuel, were essentially flat at $13.9 billion, but increased 0.5% if fuel sales are excluded. Same-store sales declined 0.5%, excluding fuel, after a prior year drop of 0.2%.

“Like other retailers in the United States, the unseasonably cold and disruptive weather negatively impacted U.S. sales and drove operating expenses higher than expected," said Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and CEO. "Walmart’s underlying business is solid, and I’m confident in our long-term strategies. We’ll continue to invest in price and enhance our service to improve sales. We remain focused on growth across the enterprise, especially in small formats like Neighborhood Market in the U.S."

The company highlighted what it called significant investments in e-commerce initiatives, including its global technology platform, and said sales worldwide rose approximately 27% and noted that e-commerce had a 0.3% favorable impact on same store sales at U.S. stores.

"We have the opportunity to create transformative growth through stronger e-commerce capabilities," McMillon said. "Our investments are focused on improving customer experience and fulfillment capacity. We’re working to deliver a relevant, personalized and seamless customer experience across all channels to further grow sales."

Total company sales for the quarter ended April 30 increased 0.8% to $114.2 billion, but would have grown 2.1% if a $1.6 billion negative impact of currency exchange rates were excluded from the calculation.

Walmart had set a low bar for itself heading into the quarter which began in early February as severe winter weather was hitting the nation at the time the company provided guidance calling for flat same store sales at U.S. stores and clubs. Although weather conditions have improved nationwide, the retailer continues to forecast relatively flat comps while touting strong fundamentals of its business.

"A number of severe winter storms negatively impacted us during the quarter. A solid start to spring and a strong Easter drove positive comps in the back half of the quarter,” said Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO. "Neighborhood Markets continued to deliver strong results. Comp sales increased approximately 5% for the quarter, and net sales have nearly doubled versus two years ago. We saw strength across food and health and wellness, and we’re particularly pleased with our overall traffic trend. April marked the 46th consecutive month of positive comps for Neighborhood Market.”

Like McMillon, Simon touted Walmart’s solid fundamentals and said, “our recently launched initiatives, including the Walmart 2 Walmart money transfer service and the video game trade-in program, along with continued price investment, will resonate with the customer."

As for Sam’s Club, president and CEO Rosalind Brewer, highlighted several noteworthy developments such as 10.9% growth in membership income driven by a fee increase.

"We expect that the combination of the national rollout of Sam’s Club Cash Rewards and the launch of our new industry leading cash back credit card will enhance member value to drive stronger membership growth,” Brewer said. “These programs, along with our improvements in merchandise, are expected to drive better comp sales in the future.”

 

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