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4/8/2004

Eckerd set to close nine Colorado stores

The Associated Press

DENVER — Eckerd Drugs will close nine Colorado stores in Colorado as part of J.C. Penney’s sale of the chain to CVS Corp. and Canada’s Jean Coutu Group Inc. in two deals valued at $4.5 billion.

J.C. Penney spokeswoman Covey Morris said the Colorado stores, including ones that opened as recently as last month, will close after a transition period and construction has stopped on a 10th store.

Stores affected locally include the Eckerd’s in Lafayette and one that had been planned for Boulder.

In January, the company had announced plans to open up to 20 new stores in Colorado by the end of this year.

The number of employees affected by Tuesday’s announced closures was not available, but Eckerd has said previously it employed about 15 workers in each store.

Under the purchase announced Monday, CVS of Woonsocket, R.I., will get about 1,260 Eckerd stores and support facilities in Texas, Florida and several southern states, as well as Eckerd’s pharmacy benefits management and mail order businesses, for $2.15 billion.

It plans to rename the stores.

The deal will make CVS the biggest U.S. drugstore operator as measured by the number of stores, with more than 5,000, leapfrogging over industry leader Walgreen Co., which said it had 4,336 stores as of Feb. 29.

Jean Coutu will get 1,539 Eckerd stores in 13 Northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the chain’s Florida headquarters for $2.4 billion.

Those stores will continue under the Eckerd name. Jean Coutu will become North America’s fourth-largest drugstore chain by number of stores.