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February 24, 2009
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  • CVS Caremark Corp., Woonsocket, R.I., gave a nod to private label in its fourth quarter 2008 earnings report conference call last week. In that call, president and CEO Tom Ryan said that front-store margins are strong, due in part to private label. CVS’s private label business hit a new record in December, reaching 17 percent, according to Ryan.
  • Rite Aid Corp., Camp Hill, Pa., announced the launch of its own Rx Suncare line, which the company said is competitive with national brands or items found at high-end specialty retailers in terms of quality, but priced much lower. Seven products carry the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation as an effective UV sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50 and anti-aging vitamins. The products, priced from $2.49 to $9.99, are fragrance-free and non-comedogenic (do not block pores), Rite Aid said, and they provide stabilized broad spectrum protection.
  • Although the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market store concept from UK-based Tesco was widely (and some may say wildly) anticipated in the United States, Tim Mason, head of the U.S. operation, was quoted in the Feb. 22 edition of The Times (UK), saying some changes are being made a good year after the launch. Mason said the concept hasn’t worked as expected because of the global economy and the company’s assumptions about the American marketplace. “We may have assumed that certain elements of the Fresh & Easy brand would do the work for us, and we would not have to go down and dirty on price. That may have been a mistake,” Mason said, adding that U.S. consumers seem to be less loyal. “A Brit has to hear it a few times before you accept that people make up their mind where to go each week when they check out the special offers round the kitchen table.”
  • The H-E-B supermarket chain, San Antonio, announced last week that it is installing self-serve kiosks for electronic bill payment and financial services in 26 stores. The kiosks, supplied by TIO Networks Corp., Burnaby, British Columbia, accept cash or debit cards for bill payment.
  • Personal care products made with organic ingredients now can be certified. Quality Assurance International (QAI), San Diego, said it is the first organization to certify to the first U.S. National Standard for personal care products labeled as “Made with Organic.”
  • New research from Epsilon (U.S. headquarters in Dallas) reveals that consumers who receive permission-based e-mails are more likely to patronize and have a favorable opinion of retailers. According to Epsilon, 56 percent of recipients of permission-based e-mails from retailers said they are more likely to buy from those retailers, while 52 percent said they have a more favorable option of the retail companies that send them e-mail because of the nature of the communications.

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