RALEIGH -- Walgreen Co., owner of Walgreens stores, is acquiring the 76 retail drugstores belonging to Kerr Drug, a privately held regional pharmacy chain based in Raleigh, Walgreen announced Tuesday.
Walgreen also is buying Kerr Drug's specialty pharmacy business and distribution center. Kerr Drug will keep its long-term-care pharmacy business.
No financial terms were disclosed. Last year, Kerr Drug's drugstores and specialty pharmacy business had sales of $381 million.
The deal greatly expands Walgreens stores' presence in North Carolina, a fast-growing market. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year.
The Kerr Drug name won't immediately go away. Walgreen said Kerr Drug will continue to operate under its own brand until a decision is made on how to integrate the drugstores with Walgreens operations.
The original Kerr Drug store opened at Raleigh's Cameron Village in 1951. Owner Banks Kerr sold his stores to J.C. Penney in 1995.
The name was resurrected when Anthony Civello and others bought a bundle of stores from J.C. Penney in 1997. The Federal Trade Commission forced the sale, and Civello said he kept a promise to Banks Kerr to use the name.
Civello and his partners were executives from Pittsburgh-based Thrift Drug, a subsidiary of J.C. Penney, which had been buying drugstore chains for years.
Within a year of taking the reins at Kerr, Civello formed a partnership with UNC-Chapel Hill in which pharmacy students worked as volunteers at a Kerr-based health center. Kerr soon expanded the model to Campbell University, and also set up a residency program for pharmacy students that was among the first of its kind.
"Kerr Drug's strategy and core principles have always been focused on its unique ability to provide patients access to the most comprehensive and convenient health and wellness offering in the industry," Civello, Kerr's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Walgreens is the perfect partner to continue this journey as a patient-oriented company dedicated to expanding the role of the pharmacist as an integral part of health care."
Walgreens is the nation's largest drugstore chain, with sales of $72 billion last year. The company operates 8,117 drugstores in the U.S.
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