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• Albertsons-owned Safeway announced the opening of five new Akos Med Clinics - offering what it calls “a completely automated health encounter using Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality” - in stores located in the Phoenix, Arizona, market, which doubles the number of in-store Akos clinics it has been opened in the area.

Another two are scheduled to open in the next month, one in Arizona and one in Boise, Idaho.

James Bates, president and CEO of Akos Med Clinic, says that “much like the self-checkout for groceries, patients appreciate the autonomy our clinics provide, as well as the affordability and speed. Like many other things, Artificial Intelligence is changing how we consume healthcare, and our AI system is giving time back to providers to spend consulting with patients.”

• Southeastern Grocers - which operates Bi-Lo, Harveys, Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Mas supermarkets - said yesterday that it plans to close 22 stores as it continues to struggle competitively.

The Post & Courier reports that “Bi-Lo’s departure marks the third grocer to leave the affluent but brutally competitive East Cooper market. Food Lion closed its last store in the Charleston suburb in 2012, and Piggly Wiggly exited the next year after running into financial trouble. The area is now served by Harris Teeter, Publix, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Aldi. Newcomers Lowes Foods and Publix GreenWise are expected to open over the next few months.”

The story notes that “the financially troubled Southeastern filed for bankruptcy reorganization in March 2018 and announced it would shutter 94 underperforming stores … The measures were meant to trim the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company’s debt by about $500 million. When it emerged from bankruptcy in May, the chain had 582 stores and began upgrading several of them.”
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