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Fred's monthly sales rise; moves ahead with 2011 operating plan

MEMPHIS — Fred's on Thursday reported a 3% increase in sales for the five weeks ended April 2, reaching $188.8 million.

Comparable-store sales for the month rose 0.7%, versus an increase of 3.6% in the same period last year.

"Our March plan incorporated the expected impact of the calendar shift of the Easter holiday moving from March last year to April this year, along with the continuing branded-to-generic script shift occurring in pharmacy sales,” stated Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO. “Overall, sales were on plan for the month, with the weeks preceding the Easter shift experiencing strong sales and customer traffic results. Moving into April, our programs are in place, positioning us to capitalize on the later holiday."

During March, Fred's opened two pharmacy express locations and closed seven underperforming stores as part of its 2011 operating plan. As previously announced, the company expects to open 20 to 25 stores and 10 to 15 pharmacies during 2011, and anticipates closing a total of approximately 10 stores and five pharmacies.