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Fred’s heading into the holidays behind 15% September growth

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred's Super Dollar on Thursday reported a 15% sales increase to $211.5 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 3. Excluding $6.2 million from last year's September sales related to 52 subsequently closed locations, total sales increased 19% for the month. Comparable store sales for the month rose 4.2% compared with an increase of 0.2% in the year-earlier period.
 
"We are pleased to report a solid sales performance for September, as both total and comparable sales exceeded our plan," commented Jerry Shore, Fred's CEO. "This reflected strong growth in retail and specialty pharmacy, along with higher general merchandise sales as our merchandising and marketing programs produced balanced contributions across all major front-end categories."
 
Fred's total sales for the year-to-date period increased 9% to $1.4 billion. Excluding sales of $51.3 million from stores closed mainly in late 2014, total sales increased 13% for the first eight months of 2015. On a comparable store basis, year-to-date sales increased 1.3% versus a decline of 0.5% for the year-earlier period.
 
"Our team is excited as we head into the important holiday season," Shore added. "We have a sense of confidence about the opportunities ahead considering the way we continue to increase the coordination of initiatives for merchandising, marketing, supply chain and store operations. We believe the outlook for strong sales to continue is good, which in turn will lead to stronger financial performance in the future."
 
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Costco reports September sales results

BY David Salazar

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco on Wednesday reported its September sales figures, which saw the company’s American stores showing positive growth as its Canadian and international store comparable sales dropped, resulting in no net change in net sales over the same time last year.

Net sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 4 hit $10.75 billion, an increase of 2% over the same period last year, which saw sales of $10.57 billion. The company reported a 3% increase in U.S. comps, as well as a 10% drop in Canadian comps and a 6% drop in international comps. Gas price deflation and foreign exchange seem to be having the biggest impact on international operations, given that excluding these factors, Canadian comps rose 10% and international comps rose 8%. 

The company said that it planned to open 12 new warehouses, which includes one relocation, by the end of 2015. 

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Tough regulatory environ, competition capping Jean Coutu Group growth

BY Michael Johnsen

LONGUEIL, Québec  – The Jean Coutu Group on Wednesday posted $526.2 million in sales, up 1.8%, for the quarter ended Aug. 29. Overall same-store sales were up 2%, the Canadian retail pharamcy operator reported, with pharmacy comparable sales up 2.5% and front-end same-store sales up 0.4%. Sales of OTC remedies, which represented 8.2% of total retail sales, increased by 1.1%. 
 
“Throughout the second quarter, we have continued to implement our business plan efficiently, which helped us report an increased operating income in spite of a challenging regulatory context and a still highly competitive environment," stated François Coutu, president and CEO. “We remain committed to focus on dynamic strategies in order to meet our objectives and sustain our growth.” 
 
For the first half of fiscal year 2016, revenues amounted to $1.1 billion, representing an increase of 2.6% as compared to the year-ago period. This increase is attributable to the overall market growth and the expansion of the PJC network of franchised stores despite the deflationary impact on revenues of the volume increase in prescriptions of generic drugs compared with brand name drugs as well as the price reductions of generic drugs.
 
Over the first half same-store sales were up 2.9%, representing a pharmacy same-store sales increase of 3.3% and a same-store front-end lift of 1.6%. OTC sales represented 8.5% of total retail sales, up 2.8%. 
 
Generic drugs reached 70% of prescriptions during the second quarter of fiscal year 2016 compared with 68.1% of prescriptions for the comparable period of the previous fiscal year. For the second quarter of fiscal year 2016 the introduction of new generic drugs reduced pharmacy’s retail sales growth by 1.2% and price reductions of generic drugs reduced the growth of those sales by another 0.3%.
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