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Winner Medical hopes to score with cotton fabric

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK When Winner Medical Group CEO Li Jianquan rang the opening bell at Nasdaq MarketSite this summer, it was the culmination of a career for a man whose dream once had been simply to get enough to eat.

Since Winner’s founding, it has grown into a major producer of such medical products as gauze and masks, exporting its products to the United States, Germany, Japan and other countries. Based in Shenzhen, China — the bustling commercial city across the border from Hong Kong that was the epicenter of China’s economic reforms that began more than 30 years ago under premier Deng Xiaoping — Winner began listing on the NYSE Amex last year and began listing on Nasdaq this year.

 

In 2005, the company got the idea to produce a nonwoven cotton fabric that wouldn’t lose threads or produce lint and would be biodegradable, dubbing it PurCotton. Winner has opened more than a dozen stores in Shenzhen, mostly in residential areas and shopping malls, with hopes to expand to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou if the stores are successful. So far, Li said, around a third of the stores have broken even.

 

 

Products sold in the stores include cotton balls, swabs, bandages, cosmetic removal pads and household cleaning supplies, made from cotton imported from Texas. At the moment, Li said, Winner will wait until it has found success in China before opening PurCotton stores abroad, though it does export products made with the fabric to other countries, and it holds patents on PurCotton in more than 50 countries.

 

 

Born near Wuhan, a large city in central China’s Hubei province, Li spent most of his early years working in the countryside. At that time, he ate meat perhaps once a year, for the Lunar New Year. “Before I was 23, I always dreamed of having enough rice to feed my stomach,” Li told Drug Store News. “It was a very, very poor situation at that time.”

 

 

After several years working for a state-owned company, Li founded Winner in 1991 in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, across the border from the gambling hub and then-Portuguese colony of Macao. The first few years were the most difficult, especially because banks at that time could not lend money to privately held companies. The company moved its headquarters to Shenzhen in 2001.

 

 

“We had to rely on ourselves to build up the business step-by-step,” Li said.

 

 

This summer, Li said, Winner had more than 200 PurCotton items available and hopes to more than double that number by the end of this month.

 

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Casey joins A&P’s board

BY Antoinette Alexander

MONTVALE, N.J. Grocer A&P has announced the election of Thomas Casey to its board of directors.

Casey has more than 24 years of experience in financial management and strategic planning. During his career, he has served as a strategic financial adviser to companies in the retail entertainment, food and drug, convenience store, food wholesale and foodservice industries. During his tenure at Deutsche Bank Securities, Casey was responsible for the banks’ retail industry relationships in North America. He also has held financial and investment banking positions with Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Blockbuster and Dillon Read & Co.

“I would like to welcome Tom to the board. We are excited to have his extensive financial knowledge and experience to help us lead our comprehensive turnaround. I am looking forward to working with Tom and the board of directors to create value for our shareholders,” stated Christian Haub, executive chairman of the company.

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CVS Caremark declares quarterly dividend

BY DSN STAFF

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark’s board of directors approved a quarterly dividend of 8.75 cents per share of common stock.

The dividend is payable on Nov. 2 to holders of record on Oct. 22.

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