retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The San Antonio Business Journal reports that HE Butt plans to start selling digital television converter boxes in its stores, preparing for the time next year when all television signals in the US will be digital, rendering useless all analog televisions that are not connected to converters.

The drop-dead date for analog television signals is April 7, 2009.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Walgreen has spent $300 million to acquire two companies that operate work site health centers - I-trax, Inc. and Whole Health Management. According to the story, “Walgreens said it will have more than 500 work-site and retail clinics in 40 states, including its Take Care Health Clinics, the brand of its in-store retail clinics.”

• The Daily Camera reports on the stated plans of Wild Oats founder Mike Gilliand, who now is running Sunflower Markets and has his “sights set on quadrupling its store base to 50 locations in five years and becoming a $500 million company, Sunflower Farmers Markets has caught the eyes of a lot of manufacturers. And Whole Foods' acquisition is helping, Gilliland said.”

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Walgreen Co. is getting into the fashion business, and “is seeking to boost profits by expanding its in-house brands, which range from nuts to trash bags and now clothing. The collection of cotton capris, sweat pants, quilted vests and T-shirts for men and women, will be priced at $7 to $15. ”

KC's View:
Hard to imagine that selling clothes is a good way for Walgreen to boost profits…since it hardly seems consistent with the company’s core business. On the other hand, weirder ideas have been successful. So who knows?