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Fred’s reports 3 percent sales increase for February

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s on Friday reported a 3 percent increase in sales, to $148.5 million, for the four-week fiscal month of February, the first month of fiscal 2008, which ended March 1.

Comparable store sales for the month rose 1.1 percent versus an increase of 3.9 percent in the same period last year.

“In February we enjoyed the positive effects of our recently announced short-term initiatives to improve in-stock positions on most popular items and enhance operational execution at our best performing stores and pharmacies,” stated Fred’s chief executive officer Michael Hayes. “Largely as a result of these efforts, traffic increased 1 percent for the month despite the fact that sales slowed significantly in the last week of February. This slowdown demonstrated the economic challenges our customers are facing as well as the leap year effect, which moved two ad days into March. We expect the traffic momentum from our programs to extend through March as we continue the implementation of our strategic plan.”

During February, Fred’s opened five new stores and closed two stores. Pursuant to its recently announced strategic plan aimed at improving company performance, Fred’s expects to open 18 stores and 15 pharmacies in 2008 and close 75 underperforming stores during the year.

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Rite Aid promotes Robert Thompson to Northeast svp

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday announced that Robert Thompson, formerly Rite Aid vice president, pharmacy business development, has been promoted to senior vice president of the Northeast division where he will supervise operations of more than 1,000 stores.

“We are fortunate to have Robert in this new position because he brings a breadth of experience to the job with his background in pharmacy, store operations and new business development,” Brian Fiala, Rite Aid executive vice president of store operations, stated. “His recent experience integrating our newly acquired stores will be particularly valuable since so many of them are located in the Northeast.”

Thompson, 54, joined Rite Aid in 2004 and has been integrally involved in planning and implementing Rite Aid’s integration of the recently purchased Brooks and Eckerd drugstore chains.

Thompson will report to Fiala.

Thompson started his chain drug career in 1978 as a practicing pharmacist with Revco, a former drug store chain operating 2,600 stores. He climbed the ranks to store manager, district manager, director of store operations and regional director of pharmacy operations. In 1995, he was named vice president, pharmacy operations for Revco.

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Kroger ratifies contract with Memphis union

BY DSN STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Kroger announced today that it has ratified a new contract with the members of UFCW Local 1529 in Memphis. The union represents more than 7,500 associates who work in 72 Kroger stores in Memphis and parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

“We appreciate that our associates stayed focus on serving our customers during this process. This agreement provides wage increases and affordable quality health care benefits for our employees and their families and keeps Kroger competitive in the marketplace,” said Mark Prestidge, president of Kroger’s Delta division.

The four-year contract goes into effect immediately.

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