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Walgreens continues supplier diversity initiative

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is continuing its Community Corner Initiative by showcasing products manufactured by African-American suppliers, in line with Black History Month.

The drug store chain on Monday said that the supplier diversity initiative, now in its second year, will recognize African-American vendor partners through print advertisements, in-store announcements, in-store product demonstrations and on Walgreens.com. Companies featured this year include Anika Labs, Johnson Products and Namaste. Community Corner products also can be purchased online at Walgreens.com/cc.

Gleatha Glispie, Walgreens director of supplier diversity, said the program serves a diverse, savvy customer base and the chain has "received a tremendous amount of good feedback, and we’re building on that momentum as we look forward to again driving stronger awareness, trial and loyalty for even more brands this year.”

Walgreens plans to expand the program to feature products from businesses owned by Native Americans, Asian-Americans, veterans and other categories of diverse suppliers at different points throughout the year.

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Influenza widespread across 25 states

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated the nation’s influenza status. Nine states are reporting high influenza-like activity (a metric that captures the severity of a flu outbreak) and 25 states are reporting widespread activity (a metric that captures the estimated level of spread of influenza activity through state and territorial epidemiologists reports.)

Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia joined Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma, while Georgia dropped to moderate ILI activity in the last week. However, ILI activity is widespread across the South and stretching up through the East Coast, according to CDC data.

The CDC noted that the ILI activity level reported within a state captures the severity of a flu outbreak by measuring the number of outpatient visits for ILI. That metric does not measure the extent of geographic spread of ILI within a state, however, which means a high number of ILI reported in a single city could skew the data for the entire state.

The CDC is reporting geographic spread of influenza — a metric that captures the estimated level of spread of influenza activity through state and territorial epidemiologists reports — in addition to its severity report.

Of all influenza A viruses tested since Oct. 30, 2010, 23.9% were identified as the 2009 H1N1 virus, up from 15.8% the week prior. As many as 42% of the specimens were identified as an H3N2 virus, similar to the H3N2 component of the 2010-11 triumvirate influenza vaccine.

The proportion of outpatient visits for ILI was 3.6% — above the national baseline of 2.5%. Last week, the proportion of outpatient visits was 2.9%.

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Ingles Markets unveils Q1 results

BY Allison Cerra

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Off to a strong start for fiscal year 2011, Ingles Markets on Monday reported a 3.8% rise in net sales for its first quarter ended Dec. 25, 2010.

Net income totaled $7.7 million for the quarter, a 28.3% jump from the year-ago period.

Comparable-store sales, the retailer noted, increased 2.9%, both including and excluding gasoline sales.

"We are off to a strong start for fiscal year 2011, with increased sales and profits for the quarter that included Thanksgiving and Christmas," said company CEO Robert Ingle. "Overall conditions are improving somewhat, but we continue to be cautious about the next few quarters."

In early-morning trading, the retailer’s stock opened at $19.04, after closing at $18.79 on Friday.

Ingles Markets operates 203 supermarkets in six southeastern states.

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