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Vasos joins Dollar General team, focuses on nonconsumables


GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. —Former Longs Drug executives Todd Vasos and Rick Dreiling reunited last month at Dollar General, suggesting that the chain of 8,300 dollar stores across 35 states in the eastern half of the United States might become a little more healthcare-oriented.

Dollar General currently is laser focused on improving same-store sales results, according to executives who spoke at Wachovia’s 2008 Consumer Growth Conference in October, extending its current streak of year-over-year same-store sales growth over the past 18 years. And they’re planning to do that through an emphasis on nonconsumables. While consumables certainly drive shopper frequency for the chain, Dreiling, Dollar General’s chief executive officer, noted, nonconsumables will help drive Dollar General’s market basket beyond its current $10 average.

And with the soft economy, consumers are more and more gravitating toward nonconsumables in discount environments. “When I look at Dollar General, there’s no doubt we’re seeing a shift toward the nonconsumable side of the business,” Dreiling said. “We have not been trend-relevant over the years, and we have sourcing opportunities.”

The chain also is looking to expand its private-label offerings. Across the 5,500 SKUs the chain carries on a per-store basis, only 890 of those SKUs represent store brands—of those, 260 SKUs are relatively new to Dollar General.

As part of its initiative to grow private-label offerings, Dollar General earlier this year contracted Kirk Pharmaceuticals, a maker of store brand OTC medicines for retailers including Target, Walgreens, Family Dollar and H-E-B. Kirk offers store brand equivalents across several OTC categories—including pain relievers, cough-cold products and laxatives.

Vasos, named executive vice president and chief operating officer at Longs this past March, in early November joined Dollar General as division president and chief merchandising officer, effective Dec. 1, where he will oversee merchandising, marketing and global sourcing. Vasos will report to Dreiling, who joined Dollar General in January after having worked as Duane Reade’s president and chief executive officer. At Longs, Dreiling was executive vice president and chief operating officer through 2005.

In his role at Longs, Vasos was responsible for all pharmacy and front-end marketing, merchandising, procurement, supply chain, advertising, store development, store layout, store operations, loss prevention, store construction and the operation of three distribution centers.

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