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Vasos joins Dollar General team, focuses on nonconsumables

BY Michael Johnsen

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. —Former Longs Drug executives Todd Vasos and Rick Dreiling reunited last month at Dollar General, suggesting that the chain of 8,300 dollar stores across 35 states in the eastern half of the United States might become a little more healthcare-oriented.

Dollar General currently is laser focused on improving same-store sales results, according to executives who spoke at Wachovia’s 2008 Consumer Growth Conference in October, extending its current streak of year-over-year same-store sales growth over the past 18 years. And they’re planning to do that through an emphasis on nonconsumables. While consumables certainly drive shopper frequency for the chain, Dreiling, Dollar General’s chief executive officer, noted, nonconsumables will help drive Dollar General’s market basket beyond its current $10 average.

And with the soft economy, consumers are more and more gravitating toward nonconsumables in discount environments. “When I look at Dollar General, there’s no doubt we’re seeing a shift toward the nonconsumable side of the business,” Dreiling said. “We have not been trend-relevant over the years, and we have sourcing opportunities.”

The chain also is looking to expand its private-label offerings. Across the 5,500 SKUs the chain carries on a per-store basis, only 890 of those SKUs represent store brands—of those, 260 SKUs are relatively new to Dollar General.

As part of its initiative to grow private-label offerings, Dollar General earlier this year contracted Kirk Pharmaceuticals, a maker of store brand OTC medicines for retailers including Target, Walgreens, Family Dollar and H-E-B. Kirk offers store brand equivalents across several OTC categories—including pain relievers, cough-cold products and laxatives.

Vasos, named executive vice president and chief operating officer at Longs this past March, in early November joined Dollar General as division president and chief merchandising officer, effective Dec. 1, where he will oversee merchandising, marketing and global sourcing. Vasos will report to Dreiling, who joined Dollar General in January after having worked as Duane Reade’s president and chief executive officer. At Longs, Dreiling was executive vice president and chief operating officer through 2005.

In his role at Longs, Vasos was responsible for all pharmacy and front-end marketing, merchandising, procurement, supply chain, advertising, store development, store layout, store operations, loss prevention, store construction and the operation of three distribution centers.

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Camera scopes out perimeters of injuries

BY Jenna Duncan

ATLANTA IP2Biz announced Friday that it is developing a prototype, non-touch camera that examines wounds to compute their size at a testing facility at the Shepherd Center in Georgia.

The camera fits in the administrator’s hand and includes programming that both charts and records the area of a wound. It does not require contact with the affected area. In addition to aiding treatment, this device is being developed as a method to help provide proof of injury for insurance and damages claims.

Associate professor of applied physiology and industrial design at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Stephen Sprigle, led the development of the camera. “We designed the device to address a key and growing need in wound management,” Sprigle said in a statement. “Our goal was to provide a low-cost, easy-to-use device that used the latest technology to provide measurements of the area of the wound.”

The Shepherd Center in Atlanta is a not-for-profit hospital that provides specialized care and rehabilitation.

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BJ’s Wholesale reports results for November

BY Jenna Duncan

NATICK, Mass. BJ’s Wholesale Club reported Friday an increase in sales for November with at $783.2 million, up 5.2 percent from $744.4 million reported from November 2007. Same-store sales at BJ’s Club stores were up about 4 percent for November, including a drop in sales of gasoline of about 2 percent.

BJ’s said that its same-store merchandise club sales were up by 6.2 percent, versus guidance of 2 percent to 3 percent. The wholesale club chain said the rise was due to increases in sales of consumables and food, particularly in the fourth week, reflecting a calendar shift that included Thanksgiving.

In addition BJ’s said sales for November were up in the metropolitan New York market, but saw the lowest increase in the Southeast.

For same-store club sales, food sales reportedly were up by about 14 percent and general merchandise sales were down by about 4 percent, according to the company.

BJ’s said that its departments with the strongest sales for November included bakery, computer products, dairy, deli, frozen foods, health and beauty, meat, pet foods, prepared foods, and snacks, as well as others. The company said that areas with weaker sales included apparel, cigarettes, electronic items, TVs, toys and other areas.

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