Supervalu launches “refund rewards” program
MINNEAPOLIS One of the country’s largest supermarket operators is giving customers at select stores a way to stretch their dollars in the midst of the economic downturn.
Supervalu announced Wednesday the start of a “refund rewards” program, whereby customers who buy gift cards in $250 or $300 increments will get an additional $20 or $30 added to the card, respectively. The company will offer the program from March 15 through April 15 at its Acme, Albertsons, Bigg’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s/Star Market stores.
“We know that consumers’ budgets are strained like never before, so we’re looking for ways to help our shoppers find value at the grocery store,” Supervalu chairman and CEO Jeff Noddle stated. “This program will help our shoppers put more in their carts, whether they’re looking to stock up on staples or purchase items for a special meal.”
The company said gift card purchases can’t exceed $1,250 per household, not including the bonus amount, and the cards can’t be used to buy alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, fuel, prescription drugs, additional gift cards or dairy products.
Duane Reade announces Q4 earnings, implementing cost savings program
NEW YORK Duane Reade announced on Tuesday that in light of the current economic conditions, it is implementing a cost savings program that includes hiring and wage freezes. The news comes as the Manhattan-based retailer posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $17.4 million and a 2.4% boost in total same-store sales for the quarter.
“We are encouraged by our solid performance in 2008, despite increasingly difficult economic conditions during the latter months of the year. Due to these conditions, we are taking steps to reduce our cost structure in 2009 and will continue to assess the impact of macro factors on our business,” said John Lederer, chairman and CEO, who noted that the company remains “cautiously optimistic” in its 2009 outlook.
In an effort to curb costs, the 251-store company is implementing a cost savings program that includes hiring and wage freezes in administrative and certain other areas of the business, as well as the implementation of a number of strategic cost savings initiatives to improve efficiency and eliminate non-value added activities. The moves are expected to result in a cost savings of between $7 million and $10 million in 2009.
For the fourth quarter, total net sales rose 7.6% to $464.5 million from $431.6 million in the year-ago period. Net retail store sales, which exclude pharmacy resale activity, increased 3.4% to $428.6 million. Total same-store sales increased 2.4%, with a front-end same-store sales increase of 1.5%. Pharmacy same-store sales increased 3.6%.
Net loss for the quarter totaled $17.4 million compared with $15.1 million in the previous year.
Operating loss for the quarter totaled $3.6 million compared with operating income of $1.2 million in the year-ago period. The current quarter includes a $3.5 million litigation settlement charge and an increase in other expenses.
As previously reported by Drug Store News, the company is testing new ideas for store layout and design in various locations throughout the city, which includes more modern-looking signage, wider aisles, improved lighting, a fresh food offering, and a repositioned pharmacy department.
By year-end, the company expects to have about 30 new or renovated stores.
From a signage standpoint, it will begin to rebrand the bulk of the chain in the coming months in a “cost efficient” manner to project more continuity.
RG Medical introduces no-mercury glass thermometers
WIXOM, Mich. RG Medical Diagnostics is looking to bring back the reliability of glass thermometers — without the mercury. According to the company, glass thermometers administered orally or rectally provide better readings than do the algorithms provided by today’s digital thermometer.
And in today’s price-conscious economy, that old reliability of glass thermometers comes at a value price point. The new thermometer, branded Geratherm, is manufactured in Germany using a patented nontoxic substitute for mercury.
As the only supplier offering glass thermometers, RG Medical believes the new product has a potential of driving significant incremental sales to the category, company executives reported.