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DEERFIELD, IL-Pleased with its 35-store pilot program, Walgreens will out its customer-centric retailing (CCR) initiative chainwide through 2010, executives said at the company’s third quarter conference call.

The program will be rolled out to some 400 stores this fall, and then will expand nationwide through calendar 2010, said Gregory D. Wasson, president and CEO.

“Our CCR format is more open, less cluttered, and provides better sight lines to help locate products,” Wasson explained. “These 35 stores are performing ahead of plan on all metrics.”

A total of 5,000 to 5,500 units ultimately will be rehabbed, said Wade D. Miquelon, senior vice president and CFO.

“The new stores coming online are refreshed and are starting to reflect the new format,” Miquelon said. “[Also], some very unique stores in urban areas don’t really lend itself towards this type of refresh.”

Meanwhile, the company will slow its new store openings to about 2.5% to 3% annual growth, and test a chronic care management service in four markets, focusing at first on Type 2 diabetes.

Sales for the quarter were a record $16.2 billion, up 8.0% from the third quarter of last year. Comparable total store sales rose 2.7%. Net earnings were $522 million, down 8.8% from the same quarter a year ago.

Total sales year-to-date were $47.6 billion, up 7.2% from 2008. Net earnings for the first nine months of fiscal 2009 were $1.57 billion, down 8.4% from last year.

As of May 31, Walgreens operated 7,361 locations in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

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