Pugh’s customer-centric approach boosts Walgreens’ momentum

A beauty aisle makeover is one aspect of Walgreens’ front-end revamp that has helped the retailer regain sales and earnings momentum.

DEERFIELD, Ill. — A veteran of Walmart and Tesco, Walgreens VP merchandising Bryan Pugh brought a more analytical and customer-targeted approach to front-end merchandising. His oft-stated mission: to oversee, in coordination with the company’s Customer Centric Retailing initiative and other renewal efforts, a more cost-effective and more compelling merchandising strategy.

“It goes without saying that we need to be smarter with our inventory dollars,” Pugh told Drug Store News. “There’s not a single retailer in the United States that’s worth their salt if they’re not working on increasing their turns and decreasing their stock days and inventory.”

Applying the analytical tools driving CCR, Pugh led a front-end makeover that pared thousands of slower-turning and redundant SKUs, beefed up new and expanding areas, and championed such initiatives as expanded fresh food assortments and beer and wine in targeted locations, a beauty aisle makeover and more private-brand items. The results speak for themselves. In recent months, Walgreens has regained sales and earnings momentum while shedding inventory costs.

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