Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report
Rite Aid, based in Camp Hill, Pa., announced Monday it has completed its purchase of 259 Eckerd stores in North Carolina and a distribution center in Charlotte.
The North Carolina stores and distribution center are part of Rite Aid’s acquisition of 1,854 Brooks and Eckerd stores and six distribution centers in 18 states, primarily located on the East Coast and in the mid-Atlantic region.
The acquisition gives Rite Aid more than $27 billion in annual revenues in 5,000 stores, covering 31 states and the District of Columbia.
Salisbury has two Eckerd stores, one on Jake Alexander Boulevard and another on East Innes Street. Stores also are located in China Grove and Kannapolis (two).
All Eckerd stores are expected to be converted and re-branded to Rite Aid over the next 16 months.
Brooks Eckerd will be integrated into Rite Aid in phases, including replacement of all store systems with Rite Aid technology and a minor remodel of the stores. The remodeling will include updated decor and remerchandising.
Starting immediately, Rite Aid will convert 23 Brooks and Eckerd pilot stores, which represent various store layouts, and integrate the six new distribution centers.
Once the pilot store conversion is completed, Rite Aid will begin replacing systems in all of the acquired stores, which is expected to be completed by next March.
Over the next several years, Rite Aid plans to fully remodel almost all of the Brooks and Eckerd stores, bringing the total investment to upgrade the stores and distribution centers to more than $1 billion.
The company also will continue its new store development program with plans to open nearly 1,000 new and relocated stores over the next five years, a press release said.
“This is a very exciting day for Rite Aid, and we are fortunate to have the talented Eckerd associates who work in North Carolina joining our team,” said Mary Sammons, Rite Aid chairman, president and CEO.
“We look forward to enhancing the shopping experience at our new stores by bringing more products, services and benefits to customers in North Carolina.”
Rite Aid said that among the changes customers would see shortly will be more non-pharmacy items for sale, including Rite Aid private brands.
In the next few months, customers 60 and older will be able to sign up for Rite Aid’s Living More senior loyalty program, which provides special health and wellness benefits and discounts for seniors.