Wal­greens to close 200 stores

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - As­so­ci­ated press

The clo­sures rep­re­sent about 2% of the com­pany’s 8,232 drug­stores.

Wal­greens will close about 200 U.S. stores as part of an ex­panded cost re­duc­tion push, but the na­tion’s largest drug­store chain has no plans to shrink af­ter com­bin­ing with Euro­pean health and beauty re­tailer Al­liance Boots.

The Deer­field, Ill., com­pany ex­pects to open roughly the same num­ber of stores and will con­sider more merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, even as it con­tin­ues to di­gest a nearly $16-bil­lion deal that fi­nal­ized its com­bi­na­tion with Al­liance Boots, which runs Bri­tain’s largest phar­macy chain.

The store clos­ings that Wal­greens an­nounced Thurs­day amount to only about 2% of the 8,232 drug­stores the com­pany runs in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands.

Nev­er­the­less, the clos­ings are the lat­est ex­am­ple of a strat­egy shift for a com­pany that was open­ing about 500 stores a year a decade ago. Wal­greens once es­ti­mated that it was open­ing a new store ev­ery 17 hours on av­er­age.

Late last year, Wal­greens com­pleted its pur­chase of the re­main­ing stake of Al­liance Boots that it didn’t al­ready own. The com­pany was re­named Wal­greens Boots Al­liance Inc.

Wal­greens said it earned $2.04 bil­lion, or $1.93 a share, up from $716 mil­lion, or 74 cents, a year ear­lier be­fore the ac­qui­si­tion was com­pleted.

Sales in­creased 35.5% to $26.6 bil­lion.

Shares of Wal­greens Boots Al­liance closed up $4.94, or 5.6%, to $92.62.

Spencer Platt Getty Images

THE STORES Wal­greens plans to close amount to only about 2% of its 8,232 drug­stores in the U.S.

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