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In-store clinics: a careful balancing act

BY DSN STAFF

In-store walk-in clinics are popping up near the pharmacy counters at drug, supermarket and mass merchandise stores coast to coast, and Supervalu’s pharmacies are no exception. But the company’s foray into ambulatory patient care will be more of a steady and careful march than a full-scale assault, its leaders indicate.

On its home turf, Supervalu gradually is expanding its presence in walk-in clinical care through a partnership between Now Medical, an urgent care company based in Minnesota, and its Cub Foods pharmacies. Some half-dozen Now Care Clinics are now open adjacent to Cub pharmacies.

Supervalu also is expanding its in-store clinic base in the St. Louis market and in Idaho, and is “actively working on growing it,” according to Supervalu pharmacy president Chris Dimos.

To this point, however, Supervalu has not chosen a national alliance with a single clinical-care vendor, like Walgreens with Take Care Health or CVS with MinuteClinic. “If we came across a national player that fits well with us, we’re not ruling it out,” Dimos said. “It would be easier for us to manage one relationship with a national [clinic] player, as opposed to several. We just want to make sure we are aligned in our strategic vision of what role this plays in our pharmacies.

“We need to make sure that as these clinics roll into our stores, that there is a synergy between our pharmacists’ clinical services and the clinic,” he added. “We’d like to make sure our pharmacists play a role in clinical care of patients.”

A case in point is Supervalu’s immunization program. “It’s not just a flu shot program. It’s a year-round immunization program,” Dimos said. “Where allowed by law, we’re doing flu shots and many other types of vaccines, such as Zostavax, Gardasil, Tetanus and will soon be offering travel vaccines. We’re looking at it much more broadly. And that’s one of those areas where we have to make sure we don’t delegate away that pharmacist-patient interaction.

“We believe clinics have a place in the future of health care. It’s hard to be against convenient local care. It’s about overall health care,” he said.

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Fred’s reports both monthly and quarterly record sales

BY Allison Cerra

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s Inc. reported record sales for the five-week and eight-month periods which ended Oct. 6, 2007.

The company said Friday that its total sales for the month increased 2 percent to $161.4 million compared to the same period last year. Total sales for the year-to-date period increased 5 percent to $1.157 billion.

Same store sales for the month rose 1 percent on top of a 5 percent increase in September last year. On a comparable store basis, sales increased 1.3 percent through the first eight months of fiscal 2007 compared with a 2.7 percent gain in the year-earlier period. Same-store sales are a key predictor of how well the company performs in stores that have been open for several years, and how well the newly open stores will do in the future.

“September sales came in at the low end of our forecasted range of a 1 percent to 3 percent increase, affected by unusually warm weather across our markets and the disruption caused by the updating of 98 stores under our refresher program,” said Fred’s Stores chief executive officer Michael J. Hayes. “We look forward to finishing our refresher program in October with the last 60 stores and to a better economic environment for our customers going forward, as the benefits of the minimum wage increase and the focus of Federal Reserve Board on the credit crunch take hold.”

Fred’s opened four stores at the end of September, bringing total store openings to 22 for the year-to-date period. These new store openings have been balanced by the company’s decision to close underperforming stores. In the remaining months, Fred’s Stores said that it plans to open 14 additional stores, with no further planned closings, which will result in a net increase in stores of 2 percent for the year.

Fred’s Inc. operates 702 discount general merchandise stores, including 24 franchised stores in the southeastern United States.

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Target to open another 61 stores nationwide

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it will be opening an additional 61 Target stores, the company said Friday.

The stores, which will all open Oct. 14, will open in 22 different states. The majority of the stores are making their debut in Arizona, California, Ohio and Texas.

In addition to offering the latest in trend-right merchandise, Target also brings a 44-year tradition of community involvement. The retail chain commits itself to local communities donating more than $3 million each week to area nonprofit organizations, becoming involved in local volunteerism efforts through Target Volunteers, and orchestrating other special projects that help meet area social service, arts and education needs.

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