Foley assumed his duties on October 7. He succeeded Mike Holligan, who was named to the open position of regional vice president of store operations for Fred’s. Foley is expected to help Fred’s continue to develop a pharmacy operation that executives see as a key business driver.
Foley has more than three decades of experience in retail pharmacy, mostly at Walgreens, where he most recently served for nine years as vice president of corporate operations, with responsibility for the company’s Eastern division. Previously at Walgreens, Foley spent six years as a district manager and 11 years as a store manager.
“We are excited about the experience that John Foley brings to our company,” remarked Jerry Shore, Fred’s chief executive officer. “John’s addition will extend the momentum we have developed in store operations and will further strengthen the talent of our management team, one of the key steps we have outlined that will help position Fred’s to drive profitability and grow its convenience/pharmacy-centric model. We are grateful for the sacrifices and contributions Mike Holligan has made during this past year in leading all store operations.”
The discount general merchandise chain last year unveiled a plan to have pharmacies in more of its stores. In fiscal 2014, pharmacy accounted for 41.9% of sales at Fred’s, up from 37.7% in fiscal 2013.
Fred’s has also focused on adding management talent. The company in early 2014 introduced Mike Bloom, a former executive with CVS Caremark and Family Dollar, as its new president and chief operating officer. Bloom promptly brought in Bryan Pugh, a former Walgreens executive with experience in merchandising and operations.
The hiring of Bloom came just two weeks after Shore officially took over as CEO. Shore had spent the previous 14 years at Fred’s.
He subsequently announced the shift to what he called a “convenient pharmacy-centric model” and said Fred’s would accelerate pharmacy acquisitions as a part of that strategy. Shore announced last spring that Fred’s had closed its acquisition of Reeves-Sain Drug Store.
Under the $66 million deal, Fred’s picked up Reeves-Sain’s EntrustRx specialty pharmacy operation. EntrustRx is licensed in all 50 states and dispenses specialty drugs to treat complex diseases and conditions, with its main lines of therapy including hepatitis C, oncology, growth hormones, multiple sclerosis and rheumatology. EntrustRx brought several advantages to Fred’s, including accreditation and access to expanded specialty networks; expertise in disease states; access to limited-distribution medications; and a model for a scalable retail experience providing clinical services, immunizations, compounding and hospice medications.