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Walgreens completes tender offer for I-trax

BY Drew Buono

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has completed its tender offer for I-trax, a healthcare operator that runs clinics through its CHD Meridian Healthcare and ProFitness Health Solution subsidiaries.

In March, Walgreens announced that it was pursuing I-trax and, at that time, the company also announced that it had signed an agreement to purchase Whole Health Management, another healthcare operator that operates clinics in almost 70 locations.

The plan for Walgreens is to add these two companies with its own clinics, operated by Take Care Health Systems. Take Care currently operates 160 clinics in 13 states and plans on having 400 more clinics in operation by the end of this year.

“We are very pleased to have successfully completed the tender offer and to be moving forward to extend our ‘Main and Main’ strategy to include health and wellness services at the worksite,” said Walgreens chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey Rein. “The positive response we’ve received for our new Health and Wellness division from all corners of the healthcare and retail industries has been gratifying. We’re particularly pleased to be hearing from employers across the country who are excited about the prospects of working with Walgreens in new ways.”

Rein added, “The acquisition of these two market leaders truly transforms Walgreens in the healthcare space and reinforces the company as a trusted consumer brand in the eyes of our customer base. We’re looking forward to working with the entrepreneurs at both I-trax and Whole Health to grow the business and benefit from our respective expertise and strengths. We have already started planning our integration activities and are confident of realizing significant additional value for our shareholders.”

Walgreens Health & Wellness division will be based in Conshohocken, Pa., and will be run by Hal Rosenbluth, co-founder of Take Care Health Systems, newly-named president of this division and corporate vice president of Walgreens. The combination of I-trax and Whole Health Management will operate under the name Take Care Employer Healthcare Solutions.

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Supervalu celebrates Earth Day

BY DSN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Supervalu, in honor of Earth Day, has launched a new associate volunteer program—Volunteers in Action—and participating in month-long Earth Day community and in-store events.

“As one of the largest retail grocery companies in the United States, Supervalu is committed to preserving and protecting our environment,” said John Domino, Supervalu vp of facilities, energy, environmental and engineering. “We are proud to honor our pledge as environmental stewards, not only through our month-long Earth Day events and activities, but every day through our business operating practices and community relations efforts.”

Supervalu’s activities include a weeklong partnership with the Will Steger Foundation that includes educating children on global warming, distributing reusable bags in Boise and clean-ups in Southern California.

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Safeway net income up in Q1

BY DSN STAFF

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway reported net income of $193.4 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2008 compared to net income of $174.4 million 39 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2007.

The company reported that total sales increased 7.3 percent to $10 billion in the first quarter of 2008 compared to $9.3 billion in the first quarter of 2007. According to the company, the sales growth was due to contributions from Lifestyle stores, an increase in the Canadian dollar exchange rate and higher fuel sales drove this increase. Identical-store sales increased 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2008. Excluding fuel, identical-store sales increased 2.9 percent. Easter holiday sales occurred in the first quarter of this year compared to the second quarter of last year. When adjusted for the estimated impact of the Easter holiday shift, non-fuel, identical-store sales increased 2 percent.

“We are pleased with our earnings performance in the first quarter of 2008,” said Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Our earnings per share grew by 13 percent compared to the first quarter of 2007. Part of this growth was due to the shift in the Easter holiday. In addition, our efforts to reduce and control costs contributed to operating margin improvement. At the same time, we invested in lower prices to improve our competitiveness and enhance our consumer offering. We remain confident in our ability to deliver earnings per share growth in the 13-18 percent range for this 53-week year.”

Safeway confirmed guidance for 2008 of $2.25 to $2.35 diluted earnings per share and free cash flow of $500 million to $700 million. Safeway revised guidance for identical-store sales growth, excluding fuel, from a range of 3 percent to 3.2 percent to a range of 2 percent to 2.3 percent.

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