MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former Walgreen Co. executive Bryan Pugh has been hired by Fred’s Inc. as chief merchandising and marketing officer.
The discount general merchandise chain said late Wednesday that Pugh will develop new merchandising and marketing strategies and processes as well as enhance current ones. He will also be tasked with promoting stronger supplier partnerships, converting pharmacy patients to front-of-store customers and building on Fred’s value proposition.
Pugh left Walgreens in October. Most recently, he served as vice president of U.S. merchandising, program development and execution at the drug chain, which he joined in 2009.
To Fred’s, Pugh brings 30 years of retail experience. Before Walgreens, he worked for Tesco plc, where he was executive vice president of operations for Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets, chief operating officer and senior vice president of merchandising and marketing for Tesco Lotus Stores.
Fred’s also announced two promotions: Craig Barnes to executive vice president of supply chain, global and domestic logistics, and Mike Holligan to executive vice president of store operations. Previously, Barnes served as general merchandise manager and Barnes as regional vice president of store operations.
“Working together with Mike Bloom, our president and chief operating officer, we are now assembling a solid, experienced management team that complements our pharmacy team to drive growth in market share and improve profitability,” Fred’s chief executive officer Jerry Shore said in a statement. “We are very excited about how this team has come together and the opportunities ahead for Fred’s.”
Fred’s operates 661 discount GM stores in the Southeast. About half of the stores have pharmacies. The company has recently sharpened its focus on the pharmacy end of its business, citing the department as a sales driver and enacting plans to have pharmacies in a greater percentage of its store base.
“I am very enthusiastic about the experience that this leadership team brings to their respective roles and the way they position Fred’s to drive profitability and to grow the convenience/pharmacy-centric model,” Bloom stated.