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Walgreens Boots Alliance delivers 342nd straight dividend payout

BY Michael Johnsen

Walgreens Boots Alliance on Wednesday declared a regular quarterly dividend of 40 cents per share, an increase of 6.7% over the year-ago period.

Walgreens Boots Alliance and its predecessor company, Walgreens, have paid a dividend in 342 straight quarters (more than 85 years) and have raised that dividend for 42 consecutive years.

The dividend is payable June 12, 2018 to stockholders of record as of May 18, 2018.

Maintaining the kind of growth momentum that enables dividend payouts is a key focus for Walgreens Boots Alliance, executives shared in March, across both the back bench and the front-end.

“Our growth strategy of increasing and consolidating volume, differentiating ourselves through value and quality of service, and controlling costs is bearing fruit across our businesses,” Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO Walgreens Boots Alliance, said. “This is reflected in another good set of financial results in which we delivered the highest sales growth in eight quarters, as well as strong cash generation and record U.S. pharmacy market share. We expect to continue to grow, in part through the recent acquisition of stores from Rite Aid, and today we are raising our fiscal 2018 guidance.”

Walgreens executives in March also addressed front-end growth initiatives. Walgreens’ differentiated beauty offering has been rolled out to approximately 2,900 locations to date, and to help deliver a differentiated health offering, the Deerfield, Ill.-based retailer plans to bring to bear its optical, hearing care and lab testing services as part of a new pilot store initiative. “The pilot stores will also provide a platform for the existing initiatives we have already introduced such as our strategic partnership with FedEx,” Alex Gourlay, co-COO Walgreens Boots Alliance, told analysts. “The development of the new store formats and the iterative evolution as we learn more from their performance in the market also provides us with the opportunity to develop a wider range of services and a different value proposition.”

 

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Walmart, Postmates partner to expand grocery delivery

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart has brought in a new partner to help it expand its delivery of online grocery orders.

The discounter announced it is teaming up with on-demand delivery service Postmates to help expand Walmart online grocery deliveries to more than 40% of U.S. homes. The initiative will start in Charlotte, North Carolina, and expand in the coming months. It comes on the heels of a previous announcement by Walmart that it plans to expand its grocery delivery business across the United States in 2018, going from six metro areas to 100 during that time.Under the agreement with Postmates, after grocery delivery orders have been picked by Walmart’s personal shoppers, a Postmates courier retrieves the order from a Walmart store and delivers it to the customer during their specified delivery window. (Groceries can be delivered same-day.) There is a $30 minimum order threshold, and a $9.95 fee for the delivery services — with no subscription fee. The first order will be free with a $50 minimum and a special code.

“Both Walmart and Postmates strive to make the lives of our customers easier,” said Dan Mosher, senior VP, merchant lead, Postmates. “With our growing fleet of 160,000 couriers, we are confident that we’ll be providing Walmart customers with the ultimate convenience.”

Postmates is not Walmart’s only delivery partner. Uber and Deliv have been helping Walmart test deliveries in select markets, including Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa and San Jose.

In addition, Walmart offers a free service at 1,200 stores that allows customers to order online and pick up their groceries curbside. The service will be expanded to another 1,000 stores this year.

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Kroger to grow its employee base

BY Marianne Wilson

Kroger is in the middle of a hiring blitz.

The company is looking to fill 11,000 positions in its supermarket division, including almost 2,000 management jobs. Kroger said it created 10,000 new jobs in 2017 and 12,000 in 2016, not including jobs created as a result of capital investment, such as temporary construction jobs, or increases as a result of the company’s mergers.

In addition, Kroger is investing an incremental $500 million in associate wages, training and development during the next three years. The company noted that last month in Cincinnati, Kroger associates ratified a labor agreement with the UFCW 75 that set the stage for starting wage and overall wage increases in multiple markets across the country. The agreement raised starting wages to at least $10 per hour, and accelerated wage progressions to $11 an hour after one year of service, for associates in the Cincinnati/Dayton division.

As previously announced, Kroger has also committed to invest a significant portion of the tax benefit it received from the recent tax act in its employees’ future. The company plans to announce the details of the program this month.

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