Coutu Feeling Good About Eckerd
By George Anderson
Michael Coutu, chief executive officer for the American division of the Jean Coutu Group, is feeling good about the progress being made to integrate Eckerd drugstores into its system. “The only surprise is that there is more potential (for synergies) than we thought,” he told the Canadian Press.
Mr. Coutu said it has already been successful in turning around declining sales in a number of stores and that it is remodeling units and adding pharmacy staff to better serve the needs of customers. The company has also instituted new inventory control programs to reduce out-of-stocks while developing new advertising to generate traffic, he said.
Francois Coutu, chief executive of Jean Coutu Group, said the real synergistic benefits would become apparent next year when U.S. operations are consolidated in a single location. Eckerd’s central office in Florida is being closed and moved to Rhode Island where Coutu’s other U.S. drugstore chain, Brooks, is headquartered.
“Then we will have control over our seasonable buys and our advertising, all the negotiating will be done with the vendors,” said Francois Coutu.
Moderator’s Comments: What are the challenges facing the Jean Coutu group as it integrates Eckerd into its business?
Is the company making the strides with the Eckerd stores that it claims to be making?
– George Anderson – Moderator