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Cardinal Health announces expansion of training resource, succession planning

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Cardinal Health late last month announced that it would add 14 new modules for its proprietary myPharmacyTrainer online training site, which helps retail pharmacies coach employees on how to deliver better patient care, improve business operations and increase sales.

The myPharmacyTrainer application invites pharmacy staff to interact with virtual patients – each with a unique health care need. By consulting with the patients and answering their questions in an interactive, video game-like environment, staff can quickly learn how to connect patients with pharmacy products and services for their specific needs, and how to improve store sales, productivity and profitability.

Since its launch in September 2008, nearly 2,000 retail pharmacies have used myPharmacyTrainer as a quick, convenient, on-demand training resource.

In other news, Cardinal Health also announced at its annual Retail Business Conference that it has expanded its succession planning and acquisition services for independent pharmacies.

Cardinal Health’s Transition Strategy and Management team can help independent pharmacists to determine the best timing to buy or sell a pharmacy, learn how to structure the sales transaction and understand what kind of additional outside counsel they need.

Since initially launching these services in October 2008, Cardinal Health’s Transition Strategy and Management team has worked with more than 125 pharmacists interested in buying or selling an independent pharmacy. Because Cardinal Health serves more than 5,000 independent pharmacies throughout the United States, the company is uniquely positioned to match potential buyers and sellers and to help develop acquisition and exit strategies that take into consideration the specific challenges these owners face.

“Cardinal Health understands that to many independent pharmacists, planning for the future of their businesses is much like planning for the future of their families,” said Jimmy Neil, VP Transition Strategy and Management for Cardinal Health. “It’s extremely important – but it can also be a complicated, lengthy and emotional process. Studies show that ownership of more than 60 percent of community pharmacies will change hands within the next 10 years, so we’re committed to making sure that independent pharmacies have all of the information and expertise they need to buy, sell or create a long-term exit strategy for their business.”

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Report: Bashas’ shuttering 14 stores

BY Allison Cerra

CHANDLER, Ariz. Almost one month after filing for bankruptcy protection, the 15th largest privately owned supermarket chain in the country will close 14 underperforming stores.

Bashas’ food stores said it plans to close 14 underperforming stores as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

The company has retained $45 million in financing to fund ongoing operations. Bashas’ plans to continue operating all of its brands, including Food City, which caters to Hispanic shoppers, and high-end grocer AJ’s Fine Foods.

Bashas’ president and COO Mike Proulx said in a release the company needs to close some underperforming stores along with stores in newer areas that didn’t grow or develop.

Bashas’ wants to close 10 stores in metro Phoenix and one store each in Winslow, Tucson, Marana and Willcox by Oct. 10.

The company said it is working to place as many employees as possible affected by the closings at other locations.

“We made this bold move to help preserve the business and the jobs of our more than 10,000 employees,” Bashas’ president and CEO Mike Proulx said last month of the bankruptcy filing. “We did this to improve the health of the company as we navigate through difficult economic times.”

 

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On Target: More pharmacies and a low-price promise

BY Mike Troy

SPRING HILL, Fla., and , BRONX, N.Y. —Target expanded its pharmacy presence last month with the opening of 23 new stores nationwide, and extended a bold pricing promise to more aggressively combat Walmart’s assertion that its prices are “unbeatable.”

The addition of 23 new stores, 17 of which feature an expanded fresh food offering, gives Target a total of 1,719 stores nationwide and pushes its pharmacy total to 1,562 units. While that milestone is noteworthy, and pharmacy remains a strategic priority for the company, it is the expansion of food and the stronger stand on pricing that are seen as more significant strategic initiatives even if they are complementary to strategies already established in pharmacy.

Target is out to increase customer traffic in its stores, while simultaneously overcoming the perception among some customers that it isn’t as sharply priced as Walmart.

Expanding the presence of food and consumables is an obvious measure to generate increased customer traffic, and Target took an important step in that regard when it introduced a discount store format called Pfresh, which, as the name implies, includes perishable products. At a new 135,000-sq.-ft. store in Spring Hill, Fla.—an hour north of Tampa—the Pfresh format is on display and quite attractive. The fresh presentation is compelling enough that customers unfamiliar with the much larger SuperTarget concept may think they are in one.

As of the end of the first quarter, Target’s plans call for Pfresh to be in about 100 stores by year’s end, and if it’s deemed to be working, from 2010 most new and remodeled stores will feature the expanded food offering.

Beyond simply adding food, another experiment apparently expanded during July at new stores is Target’s “low price promise.” At multiple locations inside two new stores visited by Drug Store News, Target called out the promise with signing on endcaps at each checkout lane and in the large food and consumables area where Target is most eager to get credit for prices it contends are competitive with those found at Walmart. The pricing promise was tested earlier this year at stores in Orlando, Fla., Denver and Minneapolis, and allows Target to match prices on advertised items from nearby stores.

New messaging around pricing and expanded food offerings is intended to generate more traffic, which ultimately should benefit the pharmacy and healthcare businesses, which are among Target’s best-performing segments. Target already offers a differentiated experience in addition to being competitive with its $4 generic offering, and now it is poised to benefit from more customers being exposed to its prescription and healthcare offerings.

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