Retail

Retail Pulse: Walmart Provides Health Career Path; Inspire Brands To Buy Jimmy John’s

Retail Pulse: Walmart Provides Health Career Path

Brick-and-mortar retailers are expanding their efforts to provide customers with health and wellness services while taking steps to train their employees for healthcare roles. Walmart, in one case, is adding healthcare to its Live Better U’s college offering, in an effort to provide associates with a pathway to careers as its health and wellness strategy evolves.

The retailer’s 1.5 million U.S. associates can now apply for two career diplomas or one of seven bachelor’s degrees. The degrees include health science, health and wellness and healthcare management/administration, offered through Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue University Global, Wilmington University and Bellevue University. The offering also includes career diploma programs for pharmacy technicians and opticians through Penn Foster.

Drew Holler, senior vice president of associate experience for Walmart U.S., said in the announcement about the offering, “Walmart aims to be the market leader in providing retail workers a path to careers in growing fields like healthcare. We don’t know of any other retailer in America that has a program that allows its associates the opportunity to achieve a degree in healthcare that can translate into a higher-paying job within the company or in the broader field.”

The new offerings will help associates get training to fill key healthcare roles across Sam’s Club and Walmart locations, “which includes more than 5,000 retail pharmacies, 3,000 vision centers and 400 hearing centers, as well as the new Walmart Health center in Georgia.” (As previously reported, the Georgia location will provide patients with comprehensive and low-cost care, including mental health services.) Walmart said in the announcement of the training, “the upskilled workforce will help the retailer make quality healthcare more affordable and accessible for customers in the communities it serves.”

Beyond the training program, Walmart’s Sam’s Club is collaborating with multiple healthcare companies to offer discounts on routine care. Members in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan will be able to purchase medical services bundles starting next month, including telehealth consultations, free prescriptions for some generic medications and discounted dental care. The packages provide savings on dental services within a provider network via Humana and unlimited telehealth for a dollar per visit via Seattle-based 98point6.

Through the help of bundles and education, Walmart is bolstering its efforts to provide healthcare and health-related products to its customers as its wellness strategy evolves.

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News

Inspire Brands is poised to acquire Jimmy John’s for an undisclosed price in a deal that would make it the fourth-largest restaurant company in the country. Jimmy John’s has been aiming to attract diners via its in-house delivery program, as delivery platforms like Grubhub and Uber Eats have become popular. The deal also comes as the sandwich chain has experienced competition from Jersey Mike’s Subs, Firehouse Subs and Potbelly.

Jimmy John’s President James North will stay at the company; Founder Jimmy John Liautaud will no longer be board chairman, but will serve as an adviser to the restaurant. Liautaud said in a statement, according to the outlet, “Jimmy John’s has found the ideal home at Inspire. Inspire’s long-term approach, culture of innovation and commitment to helping brands grow set it apart from the rest.”

On another note, Best Buy is seeking revenue of $50 billion by fiscal 2025. The electronics retailer also intends to have $1 billion of cost reductions as well as additional efficiencies over the five years to come, while still targeting revenue of $43.1 billion to $43.6 billion for fiscal 2020. The news comes ahead of an investor meeting, which is a first for Corie Barry, who took over as chief executive in the summer.

The company’s investor meeting is said to be the first in two years. Best Buy CFO Matt Bilunas said of the retailer’s strategy, according to reports, “In this next chapter, our focus continues to be top-line growth. We also believe the initiatives we will outline today, along with a continued focus on cost reductions, will result in operating income rate expansion over the five-year timeframe.”

And IKEA is making its most substantial annual investment in China following a slowdown in sales growth in the country. The retailer is reportedly dedicating 1.4 billion to an expansion in the next year. It plans to open multiple new locations before the end of the year and to refresh existing stores. Anna Pawlak-Kuliga, the firm’s top executive in the country, said the plan would help “accelerate expansion offline and online.”

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.

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