KROGER COMPLETES DIVESTITURE OF SUPERX/HOOK STAND-ALONE DRUGSTORE BUSINESS WITH SALE OF REMAINING 48 SUPERX STORES TO THE CHAIN'S FORMER PRESIDENT, WOLKEN
Kroger's sale of 48 SupeRx stores to the former president of the chain, Gerald Wolken, effectively completes Kroger's divestiture of its retail drug stores. In a Jan. 27 press release announcing the transaction, Kroger said it "has reached an agreement to sell 48 SupeRx Drug Stores, located in Georgia, Alabama and Arizona, to Gerald Wolken, former president of SupeRx." The purchase price was not disclosed. Kroger said that Wolken plans "to operate the stores under the SupeRx name to offer employment to substantially all current store and district level employees." The new chain will be based in Phoenix, Arizona. The acquisition of the remaining stores by Wolken represents the final leg of Kroger's six-month effort to get out of the stand-alone drugstore business. Kroger first announced in July that it was entertaining bids for the SupeRx and Hook chains ("The Pink Sheet" July 28, p. 13). At that time, Kroger also said it was considering a spinoff of the drug chain business either to shareholders or in a public offering. The sale of Kroger's over 830 stand-alone drugstores was accomplished in four separate deals. In early December, a group led by Kroger board member and former Seagram President Philip Beekman acquired 662 Hook and SupeRx stores in a leveraged buyout for an undisclosed sum. That firm will be called Hook-SupeRx. In mid-December, Medicare-Glaser announced the purchase of 5 Gasen-SupeRx stores in the St. Louis area for under $1 mil. And Rite-Aid, just before Christmas, announced a definitive agreement to acquire 115 SupeRx stores along with 103 Gray Drug Fair stores from Sherwin-Williams for a total of approximately $110 mil. Rite-Aid said that it would be taking possession of the 106 Florida SupeRx stores, eight Georgia stores and one in Alabama on Feb. 1. Rite-Aid's deal with Sherwin-Williams included 81 Gray drugstores in Florida and 22 Drug Fair stores in Maryland. Kroger continues to operate over 300 pharmacy departments in its supermarket division. Sherwin-Williams, however, is now out of the drugstore business entirely. In addition to the sale of 103 stores to Rite-Aid, Sherwin-Williams sold the remaining 358 Gray Drug Fair stores to an investment group headed by Gray Drug Fair President Carl Bellini.
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