Magazine article Drug Topics

On a Roll

Magazine article Drug Topics

On a Roll

Article excerpt

Fred's, Memphis chain, reporting strong growth in pharmacy

Our pharmacy department is growing fast. We attract the best pharmacists by offering a choice of professional worlds," boasted John Casey, D.Ph., senior v.p.-pharmacy, Fred's Inc., Memphis.

The regional chain has experienced a 100% increase in its number of pharmacies over the past three years. According to chain executives, since Fred's became a publicly traded company in March 1992, the chain's growth has been paced by the pharmacy division.

Casey explained Fred's options: "A pharmacy graduate can work for us, gain experience, and advance within the company. Or, an independent pharmacy owner who would like the advantages of corporate buying power and the security and benefits that Fred's offers can sell the store to us and keep on managing it ... in every case, continuing to take care of patients just the way he or she always did, including, very often, personal delivery of prescriptions." He or she can tap into corporate medical insurance, bonus incentives, paid personal vacation, the availability of relief pharmacists, 401(k) retirement, and buy-in opportunity.

Fred's has 201 company stores, 34 franchised stores, 93 pharmacies, and one franchised pharmacy. It operates in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

"The pharmacy department has been a very important element in our plan to enhance store traffic, boost average sales per square foot, and increase overall sales," Michael Hayes, CEO and president, told Drug Topics. "Pharmacies round out our merchandise offering and can be a significant determinant for customer shopping preferences."

New on the pharmacy scene is Fred's Express. The first of these freestanding units opened in April 1995. There are nine such units now; there will be a dozen by the end of the year. They vary in format. Some have double drive-ins, with a center aisle of pharmacy and data entry on both sides. Others stock some general merchandise. But all are compact-some as small as 1,000 sq. ft.and all are focused on pharmacy. In some cities, there may be both a Fred's Express and a regular pharmacy within a Fred's store.

This year, Fred's pharmacies rolled out a new computer system. "We have centralized DUR reporting, plus eligibility checks, so that we can go after thirdparty business even more intensively," Casey noted. "The size of the Express units, the drive-through windows, the software-are all helping to keep our clientele out of emergency rooms. …

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