Six years after hitting rock bottom, Winn-Dixie is gearing up for a strong return by revamping its stores, revitalizing its brand, and modernizing its pharmacy services.
The past few decades haven’t been easy for Winn-Dixie Stores, inc. But after years of watching its market share dwindle and dealing with financial hurdles, the Jacksonville, Florida–based supermarket chain is ready to turn the page.
Earlier this year, Winn-Dixie embarked on a companywide overhaul that has included remodeling several stores and rebuilding its brand and culture.
As of September 2011, 5 stores had been completely remodeled, boasting a “cleaner and more modern” look that features high ceilings and hardwood floors. However, the transformation is about more than just aesthetics, according to Dan Lafever, Winn-Dixie regional vice president. As part of the overhaul, selected stores now feature an expanded produce section, a deli department serving hot and cold prepared foods, a Wi-Fi–enabled sitting area where free coffee is served, a wider selection of wines, cheeses, and fresh seafood, and a remodeled pharmacy with wellness center.
The goal is to provide consumers with “a onestop grocery destination” that caters to the needs and preferences of the surrounding community, said Lafever.
The company has already reaped financial benefits from the overhaul, reporting that the revamped stores are exceeding the industry average of $475 in annual sales per square foot. An additional 15 renovations are planned for the fiscal year that ends June 2012. If the stores continue to perform well, it could mark a significant step forward for Winn-Dixie, which filed for bankruptcy in 2005.
Since then, the company, which operates 484 stores (including 379 in-store pharmacies) in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, has been focused on winning back some of the market share it lost to rival stores. One way that Winn-Dixie hopes to attract a wider audience and increase local appeal is by featuring foods and products that reflect the needs, tastes, and preferences of a store’s geographical area, according to John Fegan, BSPharm, RPh, vice president of pharmacy. For example, the newly revamped Winn-Dixie store located in Aventura, Florida, features a variety of koshercertified products and freshly prepared foods.
“With locations that have been remodeled and upgraded, the guests will experience a broad, current selection of food products that best fit their lifestyles,” said Fegan. “Adding the fact that patients can combine their shopping visit with a trip to the pharmacy for their health-related medications, availing themselves of the services that a Winn-Dixie pharmacist provides, we have found a very high satisfaction level among our shoppers.”
Pharmacy Services Get a Makeover
Whereas the companywide strategy for WinnDixie has revolved around a physical transformation of the stores, the pharmacy department’s overhaul has centered on creating a more convenient experience for patients.
The company recently introduced RxConnect, a centralized prescription record system that links all pharmacies at Winn-Dixie and SaveRite stores, which is designed to simplify the process of ordering and picking up medications. In August 2011, Winn-Dixie began converting all SaveRite grocery stores to conventional WinnDixie–branded stores and discontinuing the SaveRite banner, a process the company expects will take about 4 months.
In the meantime, all patients will be able to review medication profiles online, print out medication history reports, request refills online, and view images of the medications they are taking through RxConnect, according to Fegan.
“A centralized prescription record system that links all Winn-Dixie and SaveRite pharmacies actually benefits both the shoppers and the pharmacists,” he said. “For the shopper, they will experience the convenience of having their prescription information available at whatever Winn-Dixie location they choose. For the pharmacist, patient information is easily retrievable and can be used to quickly fill prescriptions, review prescription and patient records in order to answer questions, or provide a printout of health records.”
In addition to RxConnect, Winn-Dixie has launched a number of other initiatives aimed at improving the patient’s overall experience. The pharmacy now accepts Flexible Spending Account and Health Savings Account debit cards at all registers, making it easier for patients to save money on health care purchases. Most Winn-Dixie pharmacies also offer:
• Free total cholesterol and diabetes screenings (with results available online)
• Easy prescription transfers
• Free blood pressure screenings
• A full line of specialty diabetic products
• A smartphone application that can help users find the closest store, view weekly circulars, and create and manage shopping lists
Through these initiatives, the company hopes to achieve continued growth and position itself as the top supermarket chain in the South.
“We enter fiscal 2012 as a stronger company and look forward to building on the momentum we have established this year as we continue to grow sales through initiatives and customer loyalty programs,” said Peter Lynch, chairman, CEO, and president of Winn-Dixie.