Saturday, December 29, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
7-Eleven Shifts Focus to Healthier Food Options
The chain that is home of the Slurpee, Big Gulp and self-serve nachos with chili and cheese is betting that consumers will stop in for yogurt parfaits, crudité and lean turkey on whole wheat bread.
7-Eleven, the convenience store chain, is restocking its shelves with an eye toward health. Over the last year, the retailer has introduced a line of fresh foods for the calorie conscious and trimmed down its more indulgent fare by creating portion-size items.
The change is as much about consumers’ expanding waistlines as the company’s bottom line. By 2015, the retailer aims to have 20 percent of sales come from fresh foods in its American and Canadian stores, up from about 10 percent currently, according to a company spokesman.
“We’re aspiring to be more of a food and beverage company, and that aligns with what the consumer now wants, which is more tasty, healthy, fresh food choices,” said Joseph M. DePinto, the chief executive of 7-Eleven, a subsidiary of the Japanese company, Seven & i Holdings.
Convenience stores have typically been among the most nimble of retailers. In the 1980s, they added Pac-Man arcade games as a way to keep customers in stores longer and to buy more merchandise. They installed A.T.M.’s a decade later, taking a slice of the transaction fees. More recently, they built refrigerated dairy cases, with milk, eggs, cheese and other staples.
But just as they have taken business from traditional supermarkets, convenience stores have faced increased competition from the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, which offer a basic menu of fresh foods for consumers on the go.
At the same time, a major profit driver for convenience stores — cigarettes — has been in steady decline over the last decade as the rate of smoking has dropped in the United States.
Fresh foods can help offset some of those losses. The markup on such merchandise can be significant, bolstering a store’s overall profits. It’s also a fast-growing category.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Happy Holidays All!
German Health Care Attracts Foreign Patients
By NICHOLAS KULISH and CHRIS COTTRELL
BERLIN — When Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, needed advanced medical care for a stroke suffered this week, he flew not to the United States or Britain but to Germany, for treatment here in the capital.
For many Americans, Germany is known as a way station where soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan received immediate medical care on United States military bases. But it is also a popular destination for wealthy and prominent patients from the Middle East, Russia and beyond, experts say.
Before the Arab Spring uprisings, the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak traveled to Munich in 2004 for back treatment and to Heidelberg in 2010 to have his gallbladder removed. Last year, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan reportedly had a surgical procedure on his prostate at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.
According to German government statistics, the number of hospital patients from the United Arab Emirates rose to 1,754 from 339 between 2000 and 2010, the most recent year available. From Saudi Arabia, the figure climbed to 712 from 143. The numbers from Iraq were smaller but still rose to 176 from 95. Over the same period, the number of Russians jumped to 4,873 from 842.
“We have one of the worldwide best health care systems and people from abroad know that,” said Isabella Beyer, research associate in medical tourism at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences. Mr. Talabani, 79, is among them; he was treated in Germany before for back trouble.
Mr. Talabani is now being cared for at Berlin’s Charité hospital, which is more than 300 years old and is one of Europe’s largest university hospitals. The storied institution was home to several Nobel Prize winners, including Robert Koch and Paul Ehrlich. A spokeswoman for Charité, Manuela Zingl, confirmed that Mr. Talabani was being treated there but said that she could not disclose any information on his condition because of rules on medical privacy.