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Duane Reade’s Q4 driven by store renovations, sales growth

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Duane Reade announced on Tuesday that fourth-quarter sales rose 5.3% due in part to store renovations and strong pharmacy same-store sales growth.

Net retail store sales, which exclude pharmacy resale activity, increased 5.3% to $451.3 million from $428.6 million in the fourth quarter 2008. Total net sales inclusive of pharmacy resale activity rose 0.1% to $465 million.

Total same-store sales increased 2.6% as pharmacy same-store sales rose 6%. Front-end same-store sales increased 3.5% driven, in part, by strong sales of food and beverage items and OTC products.

Net loss for the fourth quarter was $84.8 million, compared with a loss of $17.4 million in the year-ago period. The retailer attributed the increase to an additional $59.5 million in fair value charges for the preferred stock’s mandatory redemption features.

For the full year, total net sales were $1.84 billion, reflecting an increase of 3.6%. Net retail store sales increased 4% to $1.76 billion.

Total same-store sales for the year increased 1.5%, with a front-end same-store sales decrease of 0.8% and a pharmacy same-store sales increase of 4.6%.

For the full year, net loss was $124.3 million, compared with a loss of $72.8 million in 2008. The increase in net loss, according to the 257-store chain, is attributable to the fourth-quarter fair value charge related to the company’s preferred stock, partially offset by a $12.5 million gain on debt extinguishment and the improvement in full year operating loss.

As previously reported, Walgreens is looking to acquire Duane Reade from affiliates of Oak Hill Capital Partners in a cash deal valued at about $1.08 billion, which includes the assumption of debt.

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New face behind those Foster Grants: Raquel Welch

BY Allison Cerra

SMITHFIELD, R.I. Eyewear designer Foster Grant is revitalizing its tagline, “Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?”, with a classic spokeswoman.

Hollywood icon Raquel Welch, who served as spokeswoman for the brand in the 1960s in a national advertising campaignn, is back in FGXI’s television campaign that kicks off April 12.

“Signing Raquel Welch for Foster Grant proved to be very successful for the Foster Grant brand,” said Richard Kornhauser, FGXI EVP and chief marketing officer. “It was an obvious choice to work with her again in 2010. Raquel continues to combine her tremendous star power and natural beauty to appeal to all age ranges, gender and demographics, making her a perfect fit for Foster Grant.”

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Walmart replaces Kodak photo kiosks with HP

BY Allison Cerra

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Kodak photo kiosks in Walmart soon will be replaced, according to publishing reports.

Walmart said its U.S. stores will feature ‘Prints in Minutes’ terminals by HP, according to a report by MarketWatch last week. The roll-out will be completed by summer.

In 2006, the retail giant established an online photo service relationship with HP’s Snapfish and Fujifilm.

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