CAMP HILL, PA-Rite Aid management is still staying with its expansion plans of adding 800 to 1,000 new stores over the next five years, despite its pending $1.45-billion acquisition of just over 1,800 units from the Jean Coutu Group. For this fiscal year management has its sights on 125 and relocated units.

Overall, Rite Aid plans to relocate about 400 of its existing 3,300 stores. “We will be reviewing all of this in light of the new store base and geography as we move forward,” said Mary Sammons, Rite Aid’s president and chief executive officer, during the company’s second-quarter conference call.

Earlier this month Rite Aid officials made a federal filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act for review of the Jean Coutu transaction, which they expect to close some time in the fourth quarter. The deal will give 1,521 Eckerd stores and 337 Brooks units in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic, all of which will be converted in Rite Aids.

Meanwhile, in response to news that Wal-Mart is cutting about 300 generic drugs to $4 in a pilot program at its Florida stores, Sammons says “we will be interested to see their results.” He company, which does not operate in Florida, could have opportunities to do more direct buying with generic-drug makers, she says.

During the quarter, which ended Sept. 2, Rite Aid’s same-store sales rose 3.8% year over year, up 4.7% in pharmacy departments and 2.3% in the front end of the stores. Revenues increased from just over $4.1 billion to nearly $4.3 billion, and the company posted a $300,000 net loss, improving from a $1.6-million drop during the same year-ago period. The company opened eight units and relocated 17 and closed 14 during its most recent quarter.

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