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Walgreens continues to push refill service

BY DSN STAFF

DEERFIELD , Ill. Walgreens announced that on April 2 it will be offering customers who use inkjet printers free cartridge refills at any of more than 3,000 Walgreens stores across the country. Walgreens is offering customers an opportunity to try out the service for free as it continues its rollout to 4,500 stores with the service by the end of the year. For one day only, customers can bring one empty black or color cartridge to Walgreens photo counters with this service and have it filled at no cost.

Since launching printer cartridge refills in 2006, Walgreens said it has seen a steady increase in demand for the service as more people become aware of the quality and convenience. Prices are about half the cost of an original cartridge—only $10 for black ink and $15 for color – and Walgreens backs each refill with a 100% guarantee.

“In this tight economy, this is a great opportunity for people to save money on costly ink cartridges and do something good for the environment at the same time,” said Walgreens photofinishing general merchandise manager John Sugrue. “Since we launched this service, our customers have kept millions of cartridges out of landfills. And with more convenient locations being added daily, it’s easier than ever for people to keep their printers flowing while being both cost- and environmentally-conscious.”

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Tesco puts brakes on expansion

BY Doug Desjardins

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Saying it needs to give its rapidly growing business time to “settle down,” Tesco has put a 90-day hold on expansion of its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets.

“We’ve given ourselves a little time to kick the tires, smooth out any wrinkles and make some improvements that customers have asked for,” said Tesco U.S. marketing director Simon Uwins in an online posting. “Quite simply, to allow the business we’ve created to settle down.” He noted that Tesco opened 31 stores during a 66-day period this year in what he described as “an opening program on steroids.”       

Tesco has opened more than 50 stores since debuting in the Los Angeles area Dec. 7 and has expanded into Arizona and Nevada. It initially planned to open 200 stores by the end of 2009, though it’s not clear whether the break in expansion will change that projection.

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Fred’s releases Q4 figures, announces multi-year strategic plan

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s on Thursday cited the underperformance of 22 pharmacies and 75 stores as significant contributors to a net loss of $4.4 million, or $0.11 per diluted share.

Fred’s total sales for its fiscal year ending Feb. 2 were up 1 percent to $1.8 billion. Comparable store sales increased 0.3 percent.

“Although the fourth quarter, before considering restructuring charges, met our revised plan, it was nevertheless disappointing,” commented Michael Hayes, Fred’s chief executive officer. “The rapid changes in discretionary income for our customer base made us face some very tough decisions.”

Short-term, Fred’s to enhance Fred’s operating and financial performance through store and merchandise refresher programs, tightened inventory disciplines, and improvements to in-stock levels on the chain’s most popular items, Hayes said, a strategy that has already netted tangible results. “For long-term benefits, we are implementing a multi-year strategic plan that involves a stronger focus on operational execution at our best-performing stores and pharmacies,” Hayes said.

In the fourth quarter, Fred’s opened nine stores, closed one store, and opened two pharmacies, bringing the totals for the year to 35 store openings, 20 closed stores, 11 pharmacy openings and four pharmacy closings. 

Fred’s expects to open 18 stores and 15 pharmacies in 2008 and close the 75 underperforming stores and 22 pharmacies during the coming year.

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