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Longs reaffirms growth plans

BY Doug Desjardins

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. Longs Drugs’ chief executive officer, Warren Bryant, told shareholders Wednesday that the chain will continue to ramp up expansion the next few years and build its presence in core markets, including Hawaii.

Bryant made his comments at Longs’ annual meeting May 28 at its corporate home in Walnut Creek, Calif. The quick, 30-minute meeting was short on news but included one of Longs’ first references—albeit indirect—to Walgreens’ move into Hawaii last year.

Bryant touched on Longs’ recent store openings in Hawaii, a state it’s dominated for more than 50 years. “We opened six new stores there in 2007, bringing our total to 38,” he said. “Longs has had a strong presence in this market for many years and is taking steps to enhance that presence.” Walgreens opened its first store in Hawaii last November and said it plans to eventually open 25 to 30 in the state.

Longs plans to open up to 30 new stores chain-wide this year and expand its footprint an average of 7 percent per year over the next five years.

Longs also elected four members to its board of directors including Leroy Barnes Jr., former vice president and treasurer of PG&E Corporation; Murray Dashe, former chief executive officer of Cost Plus; Evelyn Dilsaver, former chief executive officer of Charles Schwab Investment Management and Donna Tanoue, vice chairman of Bank of Hawaii Corporation.

Longs reported an 80 percent increase in earnings of $23.5 million for its first quarter ended May 1 and an 8.5 percent increase in total revenue of $1.41 billion. Pharmacy benefit services led the way with a 67 percent increase in revenue of $187.3 million.

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Walgreens to open first Alaska stores

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens revealed today it will open its first stores in Alaska next year, marking a major milestone for the drug store megachain as it powers its way to its oft-stated goal of 7,000 stores by 2010. The grand opening next year will make Walgreens the first drug store chain to operate in all 50 states.

Walgreens, which also has stores in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, said it expects its first store to open in Anchorage in the summer of 2009, with two more locations opening before the end of the calendar year. The company said it would initially focus on Anchorage and south-central Alaska, although no specific sites have been announced.

“With a fast-growing over-65 population, the need for pharmacy and related health services is expanding in Alaska,” said William Hose, Walgreens’ recently named vice president of store operations for Alaska. “We’ll help meet those needs with services that are currently hard to find or don’t exist in the market.”

Walgreens acknowledged the logistical hurdles the company faces in its leap to the far north. “Staying connected to the Lower 48 can be challenging at times, but Walgreens will make that easier through special pharmacy and digital photo services,” company spokesman Michael Polzin noted in a statement. “With all Walgreens pharmacies across the country electronically connected, a patient’s prescription information is available at any Walgreens when they’re traveling.

“That also makes taking care of prescription needs easier for residents who spend any extended time outside Alaska,” the company asserted. “And with digital photo services available both in-store and online at Walgreens.com, customers can send photos to any Walgreens drugstore nationwide for pickup by family or friends in an hour.”

Hose said the chain would work with local vendors to provide products specific to the needs of the Alaska market. “We’ll learn from our local vendors what is important to Alaska’s customers, and that will be reflected in our merchandise offerings,” he said.

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Wegmans to expand headquarters

BY Michael Johnsen

CHILI, N.Y. Wegmans is planning to expand its corporate headquarters, an ABC affiliate reported Wednesday.

According to the report, filed by 13WHAM.com, Wegmans made an application to be heard at a June 10 Chili Planning Board meeting to discuss adding a 400,000 square foot office building at their Fischer Road location.

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