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Standard & Poor raises outlook on Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Tuesday revised its outlook on Rite Aid to stable from negative, the company announced.

“The rating action follows Rite Aid’s successful refinancing of the bulk of its 2010 debt maturities, including a new $1 billion asset-based revolving credit facility, thereby improving its liquidity position and enhancing financial flexibility,” stated Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Ana Lai. “Further, Rite Aid’s operating performance remains adequate and we expect cash flow generation to improve due to operating initiatives to reduce inventory and capital spending cuts, resulting in good levels of positive free cash flow.”

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services suggested it would consider revising the outlook to positive if the company is successful at turning around the Eckerd stores’ performance, thereby increasing profitability and cash flow, with credit metrics strengthening such that leverage falls to less than 7.0x.

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Cub Foods launches nutrition information program in stores

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS Cub Foods announced the launch of Nutrition iQ, a unique nutrition information program designed to help consumers make better-informed, better-for-you food choices right at the grocery store shelf.

Nutrition iQ was developed in collaboration with Joslin Clinic, part of an academic medical center affiliated with Boston’s Harvard Medical School. The Nutrition iQ program is available in the 73 Cub Foods stores located in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

The Nutrition iQ program comes as research shows that consumers are having difficulty making sense of nutrition guidelines and are looking for an easier way to make informed food choices for better health. For example, approximately three-in-five consumers think diet and nutrition are very important, yet more than half say they need practical tips to help them eat right and 41% don’t know or understand nutrition guidelines, according to the American Dietetic Association.

The Nutrition iQ program uses easy-to-see, color-coded shelf tags – hung just below an item’s price tag – to help consumers quickly identify healthier food choices for themselves and their families.

“Cub Foods is committed to helping its customers lead healthy lifestyles. With more than 60,000 items on our grocery store shelves, it can take considerable time to read and compare nutrition labels. The Nutrition iQ program provides a convenient way for consumers to evaluate food choices on the spot as they shop,” said Chuck Lynch, SVP operations at Cub Foods.

“Poor food choices contribute to many health problems, including obesity and heart disease,” said Nora Saul, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., nutrition services manager, Joslin Clinic. “We’re pleased to have been able to contribute our nutritional expertise to a program that offers people a way to make healthy eating choices.”

Cub Foods is the second of Supervalu’s nationwide family of grocery stores to receive the Nutrition iQ program, which initially launched in January 2009 at the company’s Albertsons banner. Preliminary data from Albertsons suggest that the program has helped steer consumers to purchase better-for-you foods. Supervalu will roll out the program to its other stores, including Acme in Philadelphia, bigg’s in Cincinnati, Farm Fresh in Virginia, Hornbacher’s in Fargo, Jewel-Osco in Chicago, Shaw’s/Star Market in New England, Shop ‘n Save in St. Louis and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, this year.

KelloggsDRSNhttp://www.centerstoregrowth.com

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CVS Caremark Charitable Trust invests grant to Easter Seals

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHICAGO The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust has invested a $300,000 grant to Easter Seals’ autism services for young children nationwide, CVS Caremark announced on Tuesday.

The grant, made possible through the CVS Caremark All Kids Can Program, enhances nearly $6 million already provided to Easter Seals through the All Kids Can Program in which Easter Seals is a national partner.

“CVS Caremark is committed to helping improve the quality of life for children with autism through this grant,” stated Eileen Howard Dunn, SVP corporate communications and community relations for CVS Caremark. “By supporting Easter Seals in enhancing evidence-based therapies, our reach can impact families living with autism now and those who many be diagnosed in the future.”

As many as one-out-of-150 children is diagnosed with autism, and the need for treatments continues to grow exponentially. Getting the right support at the earliest stage in life is critical. Known as early intervention, this type of service gives children the skills they need to be successful, stated CVS Caremark.

Established in 2006, the CVS Caremark All Kids Can Program selected Easter Seals as a national partner in the five-year, $25 million initiative to support children with diabilities.

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