Winn-Dixie renews ‘fresh & local’ appeal
If sports columnists covered Winn-Dixie, their story line would read something like this: The Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer has climbed back into the ring as a slimmed-down and much-improved fighter competing in a lighter weight class.
The evidence is abundant that Winn-Dixie has regained its balance. In fiscal 2010 — a year hammered by recession and slack sales — the chain generated net earnings of $28.9 million, finished upgrading nearly half its store base, unveiled a dazzling new store prototype and poured $190 million into strategic improvements and the expansion of its “Fresh & Local” strategy.
Capping a long retrenchment, Winn-Dixie last year shed another 30 stores saddled with high lease costs and other problems. To restore profitability, it focused on “adjusting our promotional practices,” in the words of chairman, president and CEO Peter Lynch, and on the rebranding and expansion of its private brands, which now comprise nearly 4,000 products and account for 23% of “all the brands we sell in dollar terms,” according to the company.
Most significant, Winn-Dixie has remodeled roughly half its 484 supermarkets. Capping that renovation effort was the unveiling last year of a dramatically improved store prototype in Margate, Fla., and Covington, La., that highlights the company’s Fresh & Local market strategy.
Led by VP pharmacy John Fegan, a veteran of Ahold USA, the pharmacy division has certified all but a few of its 800 pharmacists to provide immunizations and some 400 of them to offer medication therapy management.
“With the availability of generics and the prices so low, it really comes down to the service … and [the] comfort the [customer] gets from walking in and talking with the pharmacist,” Fegan said.
Among recent innovations are a centralized prescription record system, called WD RxConnect, and an optional, automatic script-refill program.
Brookshire Rx offers competitive pricing
The brand-new Fresh Health Prescription Plan from Brookshire Grocery was rolled out on March 10. It’s a comprehensive prescription plan that shoppers in the chain’s new Fresh by Brookshire’s store, which opened in March 2010, can purchase for a $10 membership fee.
“The program covers generic and brand prescriptions at very competitive pricing compared to what they’d pay with insurance and third-party plans,” said Jim Cousineau, Brookshire SVP pharmacy operations.
“It’s for shoppers who don’t have insurance or third-party plans. We thought the Fresh banner gave us the opportunity to market and test this with a little bit different clientele, and then determine whether or not this is something we could expand to our other banners,” Cousineau said.
Also at this 55,000-sq.-ft. store is an in-depth nutritional center. The goal, Cousineau explained, is to fuse the pharmacy, grocery and nutritional center as a combined health-and-wellness initiative.
In 2009, Brookshire started offering a wider selection of health-and-beauty products and established sections devoted to diabetes, sleep and therapeutic aids and supplies in a remodeled Super 1 Foods store in Lafayette, La.
The program’s success has been average, Cousineau said. However, components of the program were expanded to another store, in Denton, Texas, where it seems to be doing better, “so we may be able to have a better barometer based on this store,” he explained. If it continues to go well, the program may be extended, though he added, “I don’t know that we ever see it as a real bastion of business for us.”
What has been a success from day one are diagnostic services in four of Brookshire’s stores. These include such screenings as blood glucose and body mass index. That program is being expanded, as is an immunization program that has recently grown to cover travel vaccines and other offerings, such as the pneumococcal vaccine.
Brookshire also has a free antibiotic program and discounted generics program.
Hy-Vee finds niche in Rx, healthy eating
The typical first-time customer walking into a Hy-Vee store will probably see it as a supermarket, but what makes Hy-Vee stick out is its strong emphasis on pharmacy programs and health and wellness.
In December 2010, the chain announced it would become one of a number of retailers to participate in Pharmacy Saver, a new program offered in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest Medicare Part D insurer. The program offers 366 commonly prescribed generic drugs to select Medicare beneficiaries for as little as $2 and is offered on top of Hy-Vee’s generic discount program, which offers generic prescriptions for $4 for 30-day supplies and $10 for 90-day supplies.
Pharmacy Saver adds to Hy-Vee’s growing list of pharmacy offerings, including the chain’s partnership with Omaha, Neb.-based specialty pharmacy provider Amber Pharmacy to provide services that also would take advantage of Hy-Vee’s diet and nutrition programs. The partnership, officially a joint venture with Amber called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, also has its headquarters in Omaha and offers phone service, personal care coordinators and the option of having specialty medications made available for pickup at a Hy-Vee pharmacy or delivered to a patient’s home, office or other location.
Healthy eating is another area where Hy-Vee has staked out a niche for itself. It marked February as American Heart Month with a special advertising circular that contained nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs, created in coordination with the chain’s 150 retail dietitians. The chain also began experimenting with a healthy checkstand assortment it calls “Blue Zone Lanes” (see page 86).
Hy-Vee’s efforts have won it recognition from the Food Marketing Institute, which awarded the chain one of its 2010 Maximizing People Potential awards at the FMI Human Resources/Training Development Conference in Baltimore in October in recognition for its healthy lifestyle program, which encourages employees to manage their health and rewards them for active participation.