Thursday, January 10, 2008

Coutu feels Rite Aid's pain

From the Globe and Mail:
Less than a year ago, senior executives were touting Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc.'s 32-per-cent stake in U.S. pharmacy chain Rite Aid Corp. as a stellar opportunity to reap big rewards from solid growth in the drugstore sector south of the border.

The story – at least on paper – had its merits. Coutu's Rite Aid investment certainly helped offset concerns over how exactly Coutu intended to expand its Canadian drugstore operations beyond its limited Quebec base.

But Rite Aid, which is struggling to cope with fierce competition from bigger rivals, has proven to be a singular headache so far for the Coutu family, which holds a controlling position in the Longueuil, Que.-based Coutu chain.

On Thursday, shareholders are likely to get their first glimpse at what Coutu plans to do about the red ink and poor sales performance at Rite Aid when Coutu reports second-quarter results and management hosts a conference call. ...more

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