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Rite Aid closes Bohemia, N.Y., distribution center

BY Michael Johnsen

Camp Hill, Pa. Rite Aid on Wednesday announced that it is closing its 255,000-square-foot distribution center in Bohemia, New York. Closing is expected to be in mid to late May 2009.

Rite Aid acquired the Bohemia facility in June 2007, with its purchase of approximately 1,800 Brooks/Eckerd stores and six distribution centers. The company said at the time of the acquisition that once all of the Brooks Eckerd stores were integrated into Rite Aid, it would look for opportunities to consolidate the distribution activities of its 14 distribution centers. The decision to close the Bohemia facility is also part of Rite Aid’s initiative to improve operational efficiency throughout the company.

The 125 stores served by the Bohemia distribution center will be served by larger Rite Aid distribution centers in Philadelphia and Rome, N.Y. 

“We have an excellent and dedicated workforce at the distribution center in Bohemia, and they did an outstanding job during the integration of the Brooks/Eckerd drug store chain into Rite Aid,” stated Wilson Lester, Jr., Rite Aid’s SVP of supply chain. “This closing has no reflection on them or the quality of their work, and we will do everything we can to assist them with finding new positions.” 

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Staedtler introduces watercolor markers and anti-break pencils

BY Melissa Valliant

Chatsworth, Calif. Writing instrument manufacturer Staedtler recently unveiled a new product, as well as an added technology to their Noris Club colored pencil line.

The new product, Marsgraphic Jr. Brush Markers, act as watercolor paintbrushes but without the mess.  The acid-free, AP-approved brushes create watercolor strokes when used with water and can be applied to both fabrics and paper. Suggested retail price for a 12-pack is $19.99.

Noris Club colored pencils are now built with Staedtler’s new Anti-Break-System. The entire stick of lead is surrounded by a white protective structure, increasing the pencil’s strength by up to 30%.

“The principle of this protective coating follows a clever example from nature,” said Monica Kapadia, Staedtler’s product manager. “Just like a bamboo cane, the white protective coating protects the lead core from the outside, strengthening the bond between the lead and wood in the pencil. The advantages are obvious: pencils with A-B-S do not break as quickly, don’t have to be re-sharpened as often and thus have a longer lifespan which ultimately benefits our environment as well.”

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McKesson scrambles Canadian market with buyout bid for Uniprix drug group

BY Jim Frederick

SAN FRANCISCO The planned takeover of Quebec’s Uniprix drug store group by drug distribution and health services giant McKesson Corp. would add new muscle to McKesson’s aggressive bid for more of Canada’s pharmacy market and scramble the competitive landscape for rivals Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu Group and Katz Group Canada.

McKesson revealed Monday its offer to buy Uniprix Inc., which owns the Uniprix, Unipharm and Uniclinique store banners and comprises Quebec’s second-largest drug store group. The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, would add some 400 independent drug stores in Quebec that are serviced by Uniprix to McKesson’s fast-growing distribution network in Canada, and pose new challenges to Katz, Jean Coutu and Shoppers.

Under terms of McKesson’s offer, pharmacy owners under the Uniprix service umbrella would retain ownership in their stores. “McKesson Canada is enthusiastic about the prospect of this transaction, which will strengthen our longstanding business relationship with the Uniprix Group for the distribution of pharmaceutical products, over-the-counter medications and consumer products,” said McKesson Canada president Domenic Pilla yesterday. “We believe that if our offer is supported by the shareholders and approved by the regulatory bodies it will benefit the Uniprix Group’s independent member-pharmacists through enhanced product and service offerings to customers, while bringing increased financial flexibility to the banners and sustaining its network of independent pharmacy owners.”

Noting the nearly three-decade business relationship between the two companies, Uniprix president and CEO Francois Castonguay endorsed the merger, calling it “a natural partnership.”

The purchase of Uniprix would be the second major acquisition for McKesson Canada in recent months. Last June, the company bought Quebec-based Groupe PharmEssor, which serviced some 270 independent drug stores under the Proxim and ProxiMed banners.

McKesson now supplies pharmaceuticals and other products to 6,300 retail pharmacies in Canada, as well as 1,350 hospitals, long-term care centers and other institutions in the country. The company also provides automation services for some 2,500 retail pharmacies, according to a McKesson report.

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