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Fred's in Johnson City to close in March

Zach Vance • Jan 18, 2017 at 9:34 AM

A Johnson City discount general merchandise store plans to close in the coming months. 

Fred’s at 3108 E. Oakland Ave., will be closing in March, an employee confirmed to the Johnson City Press Tuesday.

“The Johnson City store is being closed, and Fred's Pharmacy is doing everything possible to make the transition seamless for employees,” a Fred’s spokesperson stated in an email. 

Dan Moore, Fred’s managing director, would not comment on the number of employees that are currently employed at the Johnson City location, but a hiring sign was hanging Tuesday from the store’s front door. 

According to the company’s 2015 annual report, Fred’s Pharmacy and subsidiaries operate 89 stores in Tennessee. The 2006 annual report showed the company operated 97 store in the state during that time. 

Fred’s also has a location in Mountain City.

The company, which is headquartered in Memphis, was founded in 1947 and operates 641 discount general merchandise stores around the country.

Fred’s has made a recent push to purchase standalone pharmacies and open pharmacies in its own stores in the midst of a rebranding of the company. The Fred’s in Johnson City does not include a pharmacy department.

A press release to investors regarding the company’s financials showed that total sales for the month decreased 3.9 percent. Its year-to-date sales decreased 0.8 percent to $1.978 billion versus $1.994 billion for the same period last year. 

"Our Pharmacy department saw a 2 percent increase in comparable prescription growth in the current month, when adjusted for 90 days' scripts,” Fred’s CEO Michael K. Bloom stated in the press release. 

“The Company also reported positive comparable sales in Health and Beauty along with key holiday categories, which posted strong year-over-year growth. However, this wasn't enough to completely overcome headwinds related to the impact of reduced SNAP benefits, competitive promotional activity and unusually warm weather, which had a negative influence on seasonal categories.”

On Dec. 20, Fred’s Pharmacy announced that it had acquired 865 Rite Aid stores for $950 million in cash. 

“Closing of the transaction is expected to take several months after Walgreens Boots Alliance’s proposed acquisition of Rite Aid is completed and is subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission as well as customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions,” a press release stated. 

“The transaction, if approved, is targeted to close during the first half of 2017 and will position Fred’s Pharmacy as the third-largest drugstore chain in the United States and create a new national competitor.”

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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