REAL ESTATE

J.C. Penney to close 33 stores by May

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — J. C. Penney Company announced that as part of its turnaround efforts it will close 33 underperforming stores across the country. The shutterings, which will result in the elimination of about 2,000 positions, are expected to result in an annual cost savings of approximately $65 million, beginning in 2014.

Penney said it expects to incur estimated pre-tax charges of approximately $26 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 and approximately $17 million in future periods. The retailer noted it is continuing with plans to open a new store location later this year at the Gateway II development in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to reexamine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly," said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, CEO of Penney. "While it’s always difficult to make a business decision that impacts our valued customers and associates, this important step addresses a strategic priority to improve the profitability of our stores and position J.C. Penney for future success."

The remaining inventory in the affected stores will be sold over the next several months, with final closings expected to be complete by early May.

Penney has approximately 1,100 stores in the United States.

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Meijer taking part in NACDS-supported study

BY CSA STAFF

With cases of influenza rising across the Midwest, Meijer is participating in a new study by offering free testing for flu and strep throat at its stores in Michigan and allowing its pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs as necessary under a protocol developed by a physician who’s also involved.

Under the program, pharmacists at Meijer’s stores will administer the tests and, in some cases, fill a prescription for flu drugs under a protocol set by a physician participating in a study for which Meijer is collaborating with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy to examine the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic testing and the process by which medicines are administered to patients for influenza and strep throat in pharmacies.

"This is not a replacement of physician services," Meijer VP pharmacy operations Karen Mankowski said. "Increasing accessibility to testing for flu and strep throat and enabling pharmacists to work from those results means that patients might self-treat symptoms less and get better more quickly. That decreases the risk of spreading those common illnesses and allows doctors and nurse practitioners to provide care to patients with more complicated conditions."

Before the study, pharmacists at the retailer underwent a training certification program developed by a team from the two universities and sanctioned by the Michigan Pharmacists Association to administer the noninvasive Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment-waived rapid tests.

"Many of us forget how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway when they have symptoms for flu and strep," said UNMC physician and principal study investigator Donald Klepser, who is conducting the study on a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. "Stand at your pharmacy during cold and flu season and see how many people ask the pharmacist, ‘What should I take for this?’"

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Charmin enlists Kenny G to help mark new design launch

BY CSA STAFF

Charmin will transform the Hard Rock Café in Times Square into the “Soft Rocks! Café" to showcase Charmin Ultra Soft, which now features comfort cushions.

“At Charmin we regularly speak with consumers to get their perspective on our products. When we asked them about softness, they talked about their beds — the down comforters, fluffy pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets,” Gregg Weaver, senior scientist in family care research and development at P&G, said. “We used that insight to develop our comfort cushions, which look and feel soft like pillows.”

Weaver also revealed that softness is one of top three qualities consumers look for when looking for toilet paper, with strength and absorbency being the other two.

To kick-off the festivities, Charmin will bring in the talents of musician Kenny G — famous for his soothing, soft sound — to treat crowds to a concert outside the “Soft Rocks! Café.”

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