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Take Care to open 100 clinics by year-end, expand exec staff

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. —Furthering its plan to create a national footprint of in-store health clinics, Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, has unveiled an aggressive expansion plan that involves the hiring of several senior executives.

This fall, the company is opening clinics in nine new markets, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, Tenn., Orlando, Fla., Tampa, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz. Combined with expansion in its existing markets of Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee and St. Louis, up to 100 new clinics are planned by year’s end. Take Care stated that it is on track to open 400 clinics by the end of next year.

As of press time, Take Care operated 63 clinics in Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

To support such growth, the company opened in late September its new Intel-licenter in Fargo, N.D. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Sept. 24. The operations center brings 43 new positions to the company in the areas of recruiting, billing, customer service and credentialing.

To further support its growth strategy, Take Care has hired several senior executives.

Heather Helle has joined Take Care as the chief operating officer, reporting to Peter Miller, president and chief executive officer. In her new role, Helle will lead and direct the operations, human resources, marketing, medical and nursing business lines within Take Care. Helle is a former executive with McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson.

Kim Rhodes, former senior vice president and general counsel for Ecount, a Citi company, has been hired as chief strategist. The position is a dual role working with Hal Rosenbluth, chairman and senior strategy consultant for Walgreens, on Walgreens strategic initiatives, while concurrently leading strategic direction for Take Care.

Dell Williams, former vice president of healthcare industry relations for Aramark Healthcare, has been named senior director of marketing and strategy. Williams will report to Helle.

Iris Melendez has joined Take Care as senior director of education and development. Previously, Melendez worked for J&J, where she served as the global lead for a human resources transformation initiative. Melendez reports to Margery Geers, the chief people officer who joined the company earlier this year.

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Fred’s reports both monthly and quarterly record sales

BY Allison Cerra

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s Inc. reported record sales for the five-week and eight-month periods which ended Oct. 6, 2007.

The company said Friday that its total sales for the month increased 2 percent to $161.4 million compared to the same period last year. Total sales for the year-to-date period increased 5 percent to $1.157 billion.

Same store sales for the month rose 1 percent on top of a 5 percent increase in September last year. On a comparable store basis, sales increased 1.3 percent through the first eight months of fiscal 2007 compared with a 2.7 percent gain in the year-earlier period. Same-store sales are a key predictor of how well the company performs in stores that have been open for several years, and how well the newly open stores will do in the future.

“September sales came in at the low end of our forecasted range of a 1 percent to 3 percent increase, affected by unusually warm weather across our markets and the disruption caused by the updating of 98 stores under our refresher program,” said Fred’s Stores chief executive officer Michael J. Hayes. “We look forward to finishing our refresher program in October with the last 60 stores and to a better economic environment for our customers going forward, as the benefits of the minimum wage increase and the focus of Federal Reserve Board on the credit crunch take hold.”

Fred’s opened four stores at the end of September, bringing total store openings to 22 for the year-to-date period. These new store openings have been balanced by the company’s decision to close underperforming stores. In the remaining months, Fred’s Stores said that it plans to open 14 additional stores, with no further planned closings, which will result in a net increase in stores of 2 percent for the year.

Fred’s Inc. operates 702 discount general merchandise stores, including 24 franchised stores in the southeastern United States.

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Target to open another 61 stores nationwide

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it will be opening an additional 61 Target stores, the company said Friday.

The stores, which will all open Oct. 14, will open in 22 different states. The majority of the stores are making their debut in Arizona, California, Ohio and Texas.

In addition to offering the latest in trend-right merchandise, Target also brings a 44-year tradition of community involvement. The retail chain commits itself to local communities donating more than $3 million each week to area nonprofit organizations, becoming involved in local volunteerism efforts through Target Volunteers, and orchestrating other special projects that help meet area social service, arts and education needs.

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