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Fred’s reports sales increase

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s on Thursday reported sales of $178.3 million, up 4 percent, for the five-week fiscal month of March ending April 5.

Comparable store-sales for the month increased 1.2 percent versus 4.4 percent in the same period last year. Excluding the 75 stores and 22 pharmacies that have been or will be closed under the company’s previously announced strategic plan to improve company performance, comparable store sales for the month would have been 1.7 percent, Fred’s reported.

“While the retail and economic environment remains skittish, putting pressure on our gross margin in the short term, our earnings outlook for the first quarter has not changed and we remain confident about the long-term benefits of our strategic plan,” commented Michael Hayes, Fred’s chief executive officer. “With implementation of the longer-term aspects of the plan now under way, we began closing our underperforming stores and pharmacies this month.”

During March, Fred’s opened two stores and one new pharmacy. The company expects to open a total of 18 stores and 15 pharmacies in 2008. Fred’s also closed eight stores and seven pharmacies during March. The company expects to close 75 underperforming stores and 22 underperforming pharmacies during the year.

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Duane Reade senior vice president D’Arezzo resigns

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Duane Reade announced on Wednesday that David D’Arezzo, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, has resigned, effective April 17.

According to Duane Reade, DOArezzo is leaving to assume a senior management position at a large southwest regional company. Additional details were not immediately available.

The Manhattan-based pharmacy retailer is currently searching to fill the chief marketing officer position.

“Dave has been a key contributor to our success over the last two years and the company is well-positioned largely due to his efforts to elevate our product offerings and strengthen the Duane Reade brand proposition,” said newly appointed chairman and chief executive officer John Lederer. “We thank him for his service to Duane Reade, as well as his leadership at an important time in the company’s history, and wish him well in his new role.”

On March 31, Duane Reade announced that Lederer, formerly Loblaw Cos. president, would assume the role of chairman and chief executive officer.

Lederer succeeds Rick Dreiling, who left Duane Reade in late January to steer the ship at discount store chain Dollar General. Since that time, D’Arezzo had served as interim chief executive officer.

In announcing Lederer’ appointment, the company stated that D’Arezzo would continue his responsibilities as senior vice president and chief marketing officer under Lederer.

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CCA partners with CDC for emergency responses

BY Antoinette Alexander

Philadelphia PHILADELPHIA — The Convenient Care Association, the non-profit organization representing the retail-based clinic industry, is looking to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to explore ways to improve prevention, surveillance and emergency response to diseaseoutbreaks and crises.

“CCA is pleased that these discussions are under way, as this represents an important opportunity to leverage our national network of easily accessible healthcare facilities to improve public health outcomes and reduce costs,” stated Web Golinkin, chief executive officer of clinic operator RediClinic and president of the CCA.

The convenient care industry has recorded 3 million visits and is expected to serve an additional 3.5 million patients by 2009. There are nearly 1,000 clinics in 36 states, and that number is expected to double by the end of 2009.

Added Michael Howe, chief executive officer of CVS Caremark-owned MinuteClinic, “Our ability to see early indicators of infection in easily accessed and diverse locations around the country makes us a strong ally for public health. In addition, in the event of a health crisis, our locations and distribution systems are well-suited for the rapid delivery of countermeasures.”

“I am excited and optimistic about the potential for collaborating with CCA to increase access to preventive services for the nation’s population routinely, as well as in times of crisis,” stated Bradley A. Perkins, chief strategy and innovation officer for CDC.

Research from the New England Complex Systems Institute supports the need for a network that can deliver high-volume, low-complexity, high-impact preventive services. “The characteristics of the retail-based convenience care clinics match this need,” stated Yaneer Bar-Yam, Ph.D., president of the institute. “Their distinct capabilities complement those of traditional providers.”

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