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Walgreens to ease expansion pace in fiscal ‘08

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Throttling back slightly on its torrid national store-development program, Walgreen Co. revealed today it would open “only” 550 new stores in the fiscal year that began Aug. 31, for a net gain of 475 net new stores after relocations and closings.

That still represents by far the most aggressive internally driven, “ground-up” store expansion program in all of chain pharmacy—and an actual rise in the number of newly constructed stores over the number built this past year. But barring any acquisitions in fiscal 2008, it also marks a modest pullback from the breakneck expansion pace Walgreens kept in fiscal 2007, when the chain opened 615 new stores, including 115 acquisitions, for an increase after relocations and closings of 531 stores.

Even without any new acquisitions, however, Walgreens still is on target to exceed its long-stated goal of operating 7,000 drug stores coast-to-coast by 2010. At the close of fiscal 2007 on Aug. 31, the company operated 5,992 drug stores, including 96 home care division locations, eight specialty pharmacies and three mail-service facilities in 48 states and Puerto Rico, versus 5,461 a year ago.

“Franchisees of Option Care Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Walgreens, are not included in Walgreens’ store count,” the company reported. The aggressive store-opening schedule continued right through the end of the fiscal year. Walgreens opened 101 stores during August, including 13 relocations. It also closed one store and acquired 54 stores, all but one of which were through its previously announced acquisition of Option Care Inc.

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Duane Reade supports Race for the Cure

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Manhattan-based pharmacy retailer Duane Reade is supporting the 2007 Komen New York City Race for the Cure by handing out limited edition pink Duane Reade bags starting on Tuesday.

Duane Reade chairman, president and chief executive officer Rick Dreiling and Komen Greater NYC executive director Donna Lawrence officially unveiled the pink bag at a press event Monday morning at the Duane Reade located at Broadway and 50th Street.

Customers will receive their Duane Reade purchases in the limited edition bag through Sept. 9, the date of the 2007 Komen New York City Race for the Cure in Central Park.

The initiative is in conjunction with the “City in Pink” event whereby 19 structures throughout the city will be illuminated during the week-long celebration.

According to Lawrence, this year’s race is expected to be the most successful in its history—surpassing the record-setting $4.2 million raised in 2006. Monies raised from the race will be used to fund education, screening and treatment programs for underserved women in the Greater New York City metro area, as well as national and local research for the cures.

One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. In 2007 alone, there will be more than 200,000 people diagnosed, and more than 40,000 will die.

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Medicine Shoppe plans to expand into Middle East

BY Drew Buono

ST. LOUIS Medicine Shoppe International is moving into its seventh country this month. The company is planning on opening five pharmacies in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The move to the Middle East was made possible by a new agreement with the Al Zahrawi Group, which will manage all the operations, including future growth in the region.

“The Medicine Shoppe brand and retail pharmacy model have been very successful in India and other Asian markets, so the Middle East market is a natural next step for expansion,” said Bruce Burnett, international vice president, for Medicine Shoppe International.

The first two stores will open this month, followed by the other three later this year. Medicine Shoppe pharmacies are also located in the United States, China, Canada, India, Indonesia, and Japan.

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