Walgreens settles into Franklin digs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

FRANKLN—Walgreens is moving into the old Rite Aid pharmacy store on Armory Drive, but it may be fall before the move is complete.

When Rite Aid bought the Eckerd Pharmacy chain in May, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that Rite Aid had to sell the two Eckerd stores in this area, including one in Smithfield, to prevent Rite Aid from owning two stores in close proximity.

During the transition at the Franklin store, temporary banners cover the Rite Aid signs and Walgreen employees held a sale of discounted Rite Aid-brand goods in the parking lot, then began work reorganizing the interior.

But the move is far from complete, according to Carol Hively, Walgreens corporate spokeswoman based in Deerfield, Ill.

The transition is divided into three phases which are to be completed by the November holiday shopping season, Hively said.

Phase one includes replacing the temporary signs with permanent ones, as well as changing some of the racks and displays. That work is expected to be completed this month.

Phase two involves mainly interior upgrades to the photofinishing kiosk and installing a cosmetic counter consistent with the other stores in the national chain.

Phase III is mainly superficial changes, or &uot;fine-tuning,&uot; as Hively said, to the racks and display tables.

Also being planned is re-paving the parking lot and painting the exterior, but that schedule is flexible, she said.

The drive-through window will remain, but Hively said she’s &uot;not sure&uot; how the company plans to handle the &uot;patient lists&uot; for those with existing Rite Aid prescriptions.

The store manager is Mike Washington, who is a Walgreens veteran being transferred from Newport News. About &uot;90 percent of the employees [from the Rite Aid location] went with Walgreen,&uot; Hively said.

Rite Aid Corp. paid some $4 billion in cash and stocks to add more than 1,850 Brooks and Eckerd stores and six distribution centers, mainly along the east coast.

The acquisition was Rite Aid’s first major deal after a turnaround team arrived in late 1999 to pull the company from the brink of bankruptcy.

CVS Corp., based in Woonsocket, R.I., is the nation’s leader with more than 6,160 drug stores. Walgreen operates more than 5,700 stores and Rite Aid will operate about 5,160 stores once the transition is complete.