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Hawaii to keep ‘homegrown’ Longs name

BY Doug Desjardins

HONOLULU —Assuming the CVS acquisition goes through as planned later this year, Longs Drug will disappear from the retail landscape in California after a 70-year run, but that won’t be the case in Hawaii.

“We will leave the Hawaiian market as Longs,” said CVS chairman and chief executive officer Tom Ryan. “Hawaiians see Longs as a homegrown chain and it’s really a stand-alone market.” Aside from a few independent operators, Longs is the only chain most Hawaiians have known since it opened its first store in Honolulu in 1954, five years before Hawaii even became a state. Since then, Hawaii has become Longs’ second-largest market with 39 stores and several more due to open this year.

Longs had Hawaii to itself until November 2007 when Walgreens became the first large pharmacy chain to move in. The pending arrival of Walgreens prompted Longs to ramp up expansion, with six new openings in 2007, and this year it opened its first store in the state with a drive-through pharmacy window.

But in Longs’ home state of California, CVS plans to convert the more than 450 Longs stores to its own brand. The conversion is expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

CVS already had nearly 400 stores in the state, prior to the deal, Longs Drug chief executive officer Warren Bryant said few are in direct competition with Longs.

“There’s very little geographic overlap,” Bryant said. “The only two broad markets we have [are] Southern California and Las Vegas.

The stock price of Longs Drug rose more than 30 percent to a record high of $73.84 on Aug. 22 following news of the merger, well above the $71.50 per share CVS is offering.

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Walgreens donates food, supplies as new storms target Gulf, Southeast

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has sent truckloads of food, water and emergency supplies to Baton Rouge, La., to aid with continuing Hurricane Gustav relief efforts.

Among the necessities shipped to hard-hit residents: water, trail mix, granola bars and other snack items, along with infant formula and diapers. Walgreens reports it is also gathering supplies to place on standby for a swift response to new emergency requests across the nation’s southeast coast with the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna this weekend and Hurricane Ike next week.

“We’ll direct critical resources to communities in need,” said Walgreens director of community affairs John Gremer. “We’re on alert, and we’ll be ready to help wherever we can.”

The company notes there is still “tremendous need in many Baton Rouge communities,” which were among the hardest hit by Gustav. “Thousands remain without electricity, and food and water are still in high demand,” the company reports.

Another priority is getting any stores that were closed due to the storm back open quickly, according to the chain. As of Friday morning, Walgreens reported, “all but one of Walgreens’ 15 Baton Rouge stores are open. Across the Gulf Coast region, only nine remain closed down from 69 closed immediately following the storm.”

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Rite Aid donates $44,500-plus in supplies for Gustav evacuees

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. To further assist evacuees of Hurricane Gustav, The Rite Aid Foundation is donating more than $44,500 worth of supplies including water, snacks, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other personal hygiene products as requested by the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to be distributed at shelters for evacuees, the Foundation announced Friday

“Throughout the Gulf Coast, widespread flooding and violent wind damage have created an urgent need for disaster support,” stated Jeff Towers, chief development officer at the American Red Cross. “Rite Aid generously responded to this need through in-kind and financial support to help the Red Cross provide food, shelter and counseling to Gulf Coast communities during this hurricane season.”

Earlier this week, The Rite Aid Foundation made a $75,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help the victims, families and communities affected by Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A relief team of Rite Aid associates, including store cashiers and pharmacists, have traveled from Tennessee and unaffected areas of Louisiana and Alabama to help stores that have been impacted and to help reopen additional stores.

“One of Rite Aid’s core values is to be caring neighbors in the communities we serve, and we are happy to work with the American Red Cross to help the evacuees of Hurricane Gustav,” commented Mike Seesholtz, Rite Aid regional vice president for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “Our associates have been amazing in their commitment to do whatever they can to help the victims of Hurricane Gustav.”

Residents displaced by the hurricane can visit any open Rite Aid for their prescriptions because the company’s satellite-linked computer network assures a complete customer prescription history at any Rite Aid store. Because of the state of emergency, Rite Aid pharmacies also can access prescription information for patients who do not normally get their prescriptions at Rite Aid.

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