Kroger Targets Retail Health Care For Growth

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(CINCINNATI – September 3, 2019) - Kroger Co. has an eye on an unconventional source for future growth: health care.

Downtown Cincinnati-based Kroger (NYSE: KR), the nation’s largest operator of traditional supermarkets, has plenty of opportunity to expand its retail pharmacy offerings, Jim Kirby, Kroger’s senior director of pharmacy services, said at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores expo in Boston last week.

Kirby told attendees that the upcoming flu season could be one of the worst ever, based on what Australia just experienced during its flu season.

“Time is of the essence, but if there's any way that you can institute flu testing at your pharmacy, then that's a big business opportunity. But more important, it's a great patient care opportunity.”

Kroger is also expanding the types of screenings and vaccinations it offers, Kirby said. But he urged supermarkets in the pharmacy business to go beyond preventive care.

“If we in grocery are truly going to improve health outcomes beyond screenings, we're going to have to get in deep with how patients are living their life,” he said. “This is something that we really harp on at Kroger. We have to engage every patient, every time.”

He also said pharmacists will also get involved in the near future in helping patients with nutrition by helping interpret labels and plan their food intake.

Kroger operates 215 Little Clinic locations in stores and 2,200 pharmacies, many of which are in stores, in 37 states. Kroger operates 2,800 retail stores in 35 states. Its pharmacy business generates about 9 percent of Kroger’s total revenue.