Fred’s overhauls ops and marketing, explores sale
Regional discount retailer Fred’s is making some big changes to its merchandising and operations groups to begin 2014 and has retained several firms to review strategic opportunities.
On the heels of a 1.4% same-store sales increase in December, driven by its pharmacy business, Fred’s said it had retained BofA Merrill Lynch and Peter J. Solomon Company to review strategic opportunities to enhance shareholder value. In addition, the operator of 701 stores throughout the Southeast, gave CFO Jerry Shore additional responsibilities as COO and said CEO Bruce Efird would lead the merchandising and marketing team and strategy.
"The merchandising and marketing team has been revamped and now will report directly to me,” Efird said. “We have developed new pricing, marketing, inventory management and profit strategies that are designed to drive greater profitability throughout the year, with a key goal of re-energizing fourth-quarter results in 2014.”
In addition, Fred’s will continue to implement the successful elements of a reconfiguration plan, a key aspect of which involves the addition of pharmacies to its discount stores. The company plans 150 to 200 conversions in 2014, which will leave it with pharmacies in 60% of its store by the end of 2014.
The moves come as Fred’s experienced a challenging sales climate throughout 2013. The company’s year-to-date sales increased 1% to slightly more than $1.8 billion, while same-store sales declined 0.9%.
"While December sales were in the range of our expectations, they were driven primarily by the strong performance of our pharmacy department, as the discretionary departments in general merchandising fell short of plan,” Efird said. “The positive impact from our reconfiguration plan continued in December, driven mainly by our hometown auto and hardware department. However, in spite of the success of our reconfiguration program, Fred’s 2013 fourth-quarter promotional strategy, which was centered on Black Friday, did not produce the incremental gains we expected.”
FDA approves generic hypertension pill made by Actavis
DUBLIN — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic drug for high blood pressure made by Actavis, the company said Friday.
Actavis announced the approval of telmisartan immediate-release tablets in the 20-mg, 40-mg and 80-mg strengths, which it intends to release immediately.
The drug is a generic version of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Micardis, which had sales of about $274 million during the 12-month period that ended in September, according to IMS Health. As the first company to successfully apply for approval of a generic version, Actavis has 180 days in which to compete exclusively against Boehringer Ingelheim’s product, according to FDA regulations.
FDA approves combination of two GSK drugs for skin cancer
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved two drugs made by GlaxoSmithKline for use together in patients with advanced melanoma that can’t be removed by surgery or has spread to other parts of the body, the agency said Friday.
The FDA announced the new approval for Mekinist (trametinib) and Tafinlar (dabrafenib). The agency originally approved the two drugs for use as single agents for the same indication in May 2013.
According to the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 76,690 Americans were diagnosed last year with melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, and 9,480 died.