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CAMP HILL, PA-Drugstore chain Rite Aid is trying to cut some deals with its landlords. The company, with just over 4,800 units across the country, is trying to get rent reductions, “to improve the overall profitability and viability of the store” at certain locations, said Frank Vitrano, the retailer’s chief financial officer, during its first-quarter conference call.

Rite Aid’s management is in the “early stages” of those talks and expects to give an update on its progress at the end of this quarter. But the company is already moving forward on cutting some excess real estate, closing 86 stores during its first quarter.

The retailer is doing the same with its warehouses. In the first quarter Rite Aid closed a distribution center in Bohemia, NY; on Long Island, and the company will shut one in Atlanta in September.

Meanwhile, Mary Sammons, Rite Aid’s chairman and chief executive officer made some remarks during the conference call about President Obama’s health care reform plan. She said her industry supports assistance for the disabled and elderly but said, “We have made it very clear in our discussions with members of congress that pharmacy needs a fair reimbursement for the prescriptions it dispenses, especially Medicaid prescriptions.”

Rite Aid recorded a net loss of $98.4 million during the quarter, down from a $156.6-million plunge during the same year-ago period. Same-store sales inched up 0.6%, with pharmacy transactions increasing by 1.6% and front-end sale dropping by that same amount.

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