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Published: Saturday, 12/29/2001

Rite Aid to buy four area CVS stores

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

A rival is buying four of the Toledo area's soon-to-be-closed CVS Corp. drugstores as the two competitors swap buildings and customer files throughout Ohio, Michigan, and elsewhere for an undisclosed price to focus on their stronger markets.

Rite Aid Corp. is buying two Toledo stores, at 5860 Lewis Avenue and at 3448 W. Sylvania Ave., and stores in Bowling Green and in Lambertville, Mich., by mid January. The move could save 40 to 60 jobs.

Plus, the chain is buying prescription files from eight closing CVS stores in Toledo and one in Sylvania. Customers are to be notified which Rite Aid will be assigned their business, said Jody Cook, spokesman for the Camp Hill, Pa., chain.

“Every single Toledo customer that is a CVS customer will not have a loss in service,” Ms. Cook said yesterday.

The four stores will close as CVS outlets and open the next day as Rite Aids, and all employees will be interviewed for positions, she said. Rite Aid typically has 10 to 15 employees in a store, compared with 15 to 20 at CVS.

CVS announced this week it is pulling out of the Toledo area, closing 16 stores in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan by mid January because of low sales volumes. The move affects 240 to 320 employees. The Woonsocket, R.I., chain is looking for pharmacies to take over prescription files at closing CVS stores in Tiffin, Defiance, and Monroe as required by law, said spokesman Mike DeAngelis.

The Toledo area has been a drugstore battlefield since 1994, when Revco arrived to contest Rite Aid and later was purchased by CVS. The rivals often have Toledo-area stores on opposite corners or near each other, and they built 12 stores between 1997 and 1999. Walgreen Co., which is building its fifth store at Monroe Street and Secor Road, is a more recent competitor.

The Toledo-area purchases are part of a deal between the two companies, where Rite Aid also will buy CVS' prescription files and some stores in Canton, Ohio, and in the Michigan cities of Flint and Saginaw, Ms. Cook said. CVS, meanwhile, is buying some Rite Aid files and stores in Cincinnati and Columbus, and the two chains are making some one-store deals in other areas.

The Toledo area is a good market for Rite Aid, which will have 18 stores in the Toledo area.

“We've been strengthening our store portfolio for some time,” she said. “It makes good financial sense for us.”



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