Fred's credited an 8% lift in pharmacy department sales as a key factor accounting for the company's third-quarter success.
"The investments in pharmacy growth have been validated by the 8% increase in its total department sales," said Bruce Efird, Fred's CEO. "Notably, our pharmacy department accounted for more than 40% of total company sales during the quarter. To help build on this momentum, we opened our new specialty pharmacy division, EIRIS Health Services, during the third quarter, which accelerates our entry into the fastest growing area of the pharmacy industry."
For the discount retailer's third quarter ended Nov. 2, total sales increased 2% to $460.5 million. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 1.4% compared with a decline of 2.5% in the third quarter last year. Fred's total sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2013 increased 2% to $1.4 billion. Comparable store sales for the first nine months of 2013 increased 1.1% compared with a decrease of 0.8% in the same period last year.
During the third quarter, Fred's opened eight new locations and closed four locations. During the first nine months of the year, Fred's opened 17 new locations, comprising seven new stores and 10 new Xpress pharmacies. Fred's also closed 21 stores and seven Xpress locations.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, the company expects total sales to increase in the range of 1% to 3%. Comparable store sales are expected to be in the range of flat to up 2% versus a decrease of 2.8% in the comparable 13-week fourth quarter last year.