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Walgreens taps veteran to head CCR

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK In a high-stakes campaign to fire up its front-end appeal, reaffirm its relationship with America’s consumers and rejuvenate its same-store sales, Walgreens has gone to its bench.

Walgreens has named one of its veteran operations people, Mike Arnoult, to the key post of VP in charge of Customer Centric Retailing. Until last month, the post was held by Chong Bang, who left the company in mid-December to oversee merchandising at Toronto-based Shoppers Drug Mart.

Unlike Bang, Arnoult is more a seasoned operations manager than a merchant. His appointment is a clear sign that Walgreens has moved beyond the conceptual and launch phase of CCR, and is ready to begin the next phase of the massive project: the expansion of a CCR-based store design across Walgreens’ coast-to-coast network of 7,147 drug stores.

Nevertheless, Arnoult inherits a critical challenge at the retail behemoth. CCR encompasses Walgreens’ massive effort to pull together a sprawling marketing and merchandising operation and focus its efforts more sharply on meeting and anticipating customer demands. Within two or three years, it will transform the chain’s front-end presentation and go-to-market strategy coast-to-coast with a leaner, more condensed merchandise mix; a sharper focus on health, wellness and patient education in the aisles; improved departmental adjacencies and signing; and — Walgreens merchants hope — a better overall shopping experience.

Bang took CCR all the way from conception to realization, streamlining assortments, cutting hundreds of redundant SKUs, and applying new rationale to categories, adjacencies and promotional strategy at the front end. He also oversaw the test and launch of a new Walgreens store prototype, based on CCR principles and a better read of consumer needs.

Arnoult will now take the CCR rollout from a 400-store pilot in Texas to nationwide completion. Given the chain’s aggressive plans for 2010 — nearly 3,000 stores scheduled for a CCR redesign by the end of the year — he’ll need to bring all his proven management skills to bear to coordinate local-market remodeling activities with Walgreens’ operations and merchandising teams.

“We’re evaluating the findings from the Texas stores and doing some tweaking,” company spokesperson Tiffani Washington told Drug Store News in December. “We’ll continue the rollout [of the CCR-based store overhaul program] starting in January.”

Arnoult brings to his task a strong resume in store, district and regional management. His 20-year career at Walgreens includes stints as store manager, district manager and store operations VP, followed by a year as head of online merchandising. He’s a 1990 graduate of Marquette University with a B.A. in communications.

“His ability to build relationships and collaborate across the organization will be invaluable,” Walgreens asserted.

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Teel rejoins Raley’s as CEO

BY Allison Cerra

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. Raley’s board of directors Wednesday announced that Michael Teel, grandson of the regional supermarket founder, Tom Raley, will lead the chain as CEO.

“He knows the market; he knows the company,” said the co-chairman, Jim Teel. “The board and the family welcome Michael back with our full, 100% support.”

Michael led the company from 1996 to 2002, and returned with the message that he is focused on the family’s goal of keeping the company privately held and staying true to Raley’s core values.

“This is a special company. We are unique in how our employees offer service to our customers. I value that strength, and see it as essential to who we are,” Michael Teel said. “As a leader, my role is to foster this unique quality and allow it to thrive.”

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Fred’s reports monthly sales

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Deep discounter Fred’s on Thursday posted $209.3 million in sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2, representing a 4% increase as compared with December 2008. Comparable-store sales for the month increased 1.3%, versus flat comparable-store sales in the same period last year.

“We are pleased with Fred’s December sales performance, especially considering the tough consumer environment that persists, as comparable-store sales for the month rebounded,” stated Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO. “Several key factors contributed to these positive results, including improved customer traffic, continued pharmacy department script growth and better clearance of seasonal inventory.”

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