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First Data Advisors reports on mid-year gift card performance

BY Staff Writer

Atlanta — The prepaid gift card market remained healthy in the first half of 2011, experiencing a higher rate of growth than U.S. consumer spending despite the sluggish macroeconomic environment. That’s one finding of a new analysis on the U.S. gift card market from First Data Advisors.

Using actual point-of-sale data from First Data’s proprietary SpendTrend database, the 2011 Prepaid Midyear Gift Card Performance Update found that gift card activation volume increased 8.8% — nearly a percentage point more than overall consumer spending volume on credit, debit, and Electronic Benefit cards for the same period. Despite the fragile state of the U.S. economy, the average per card amount activated on gift cards expanded 6.1% in the first half of 2011.

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Walgreen profit leaps 69% in Q4

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreen Co. reported Tuesday that profit for its fiscal fourth quarter surged 69%, in part due to gains from the $525 million sale of its pharmacy benefits management business Walgreens Health Initiatives during the quarter.

Net income for the quarter ended Aug. 31 rose to $792 million, up from $470 million in the year-ago period and surpassing Wall Street expectations.

Revenue rose 6.5% to $18 billion and same-store sales increased 4.4%.

For the full fiscal year, Walgreen reported earnings of $2.71 billion on $72.18 billion in revenue.

“Through constant innovation and effective execution of our key initiatives, we continued to make substantial progress this year in the transformation of Walgreens to become the first choice for health and daily living,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson.

In the fourth quarter, the company opened or acquired 59 stores compared with 65 in the year-ago quarter. In fiscal 2011, Walgreens added a net gain of 199 new drug stores including 32 acquisitions, on target with its plan to slow organic store growth to between 2.5% and 3% during the year.

The company also said that it completed its 2009-set goal during the fiscal year to convert or open 5,500 Walgreens stores to its new customer centric format. And as announced earlier in the year, it plans to convert or open at least 1,000 “food oasis” stores over the next five years to address the need for greater access to healthy foods in underserved communities across the country, building on a 12-store pilot in Chicago.

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New execs named at Family Dollar

BY CSA STAFF

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores announced that it has named Michael Bloom to the position of president and COO and promoted Dorlisa Flur to the position of vice chair strategy and chief administrative officer. Both Bloom and Flur will report to Howard Levine, chairman and CEO. These appointments follow the announced retirement of R. James Kelly as Family Dollar’s president and COO after 15 years with the company.

“Today’s announcement reflects the result of several years of thoughtful discussion and planning as we prepared for Jim’s retirement,” said Howard Levine. “We are pursuing an ambitious growth agenda to expand our market share and drive greater financial returns, and these leadership changes ensure that we have a strong management team in place to execute our plans."

Prior to joining Family Dollar, Bloom served as EVP merchandising supply chain, marketing and advertising for CVS Caremark. He began his 20-year career with CVS Caremark in store operations and progressed through a number of positions with increasing responsibility including category manager, VP consumer healthcare, and SVP merchandising. Before joining CVS, Bloom spent ten years as a manager/executive with the Virginia-based People’s Drug Stores and the Florida division of Toronto-based Shopper’s Drug Mart.

Flur joined Family Dollar in 2004 as SVP strategy and business development. In October 2008, Flur was promoted to EVP strategy and marketing, and in August 2009, she was promoted to EVP chief merchandising officer. Prior to joining Family Dollar, Flur served as a principal with the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.

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