Walgreens to buy rival Duane Reade chain


Walgreens' planned acquisition of Duane Reade signals further advances into pharmacy and drugstore retailing for the smaller chain.

Walgreens' planned acquisition of New York-based Duane Reade signals further advances into pharmacy and drugstore retailing for the smaller chain, which has been upscaling its 257 stores through the addition of Look Boutique, a premium beauty format; FlexRewards, a new customer-rewards program, and improved private-label products. Announced in February, the takeover of Duane Reade by Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens is expected to close by the end of August.

"Over the past 2 years, Duane Reade has embarked upon a significant brand-transformation initiative ... Improvements include dramatic new store designs with wide aisles and contemporary decor, an improved pharmacy featuring lower service counters for more personalized patient interaction, [and the] introduction of 'Doctor on Premises' walk-in health care," a Walgreens statement said.

In addition, Walgreens' systems will enhance Duane Reade's pharmacy technology, according to John Lederer, chairman and CEO of Duane Reade, but "the process to fill your Duane Reade prescription will not change, although it is likely that we will implement improvements in time," Lederer wrote at the Duane Reade website. Duane Reade has no plans to replace its Doctor on Premises walk-in clinics with Walgreens' Take Care Clinics. "The two businesses will operate separately, including prescription systems, for the time being," Lederer said.

According to Walgreens, Duane Reade's new retail programs match Walgreens' Customer Centric Retailing initiative, which has updated store interiors and improved product selection in more than 600 stores nationwide.

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