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Fred’s will revamp marketing, merchandising

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Inc. has named chief financial officer Jerry Shore to the additional position of chief operating officer and is recasting its merchandising and marketing strategy and team under the leadership of chief executive officer Bruce Efird.

The moves came after the company reported sales for the five-week fiscal month of December, which were essentially flat at $209.5 million. Comparable store sales for the month increased 1.4% versus a decline of 4.2% in the same period last year.

“While December sales were in the range of our expectations, they were driven primarily by the strong performance of our pharmacy department as the discretionary departments in general merchandising fell short of plan,” Efird said. “The positive impact from our reconfiguration plan continued in December, driven mainly by our Hometown Auto & Hardware department. However, in spite of the success of the program, Fred’s 2013 fourth quarter promotional strategy, which was centered on Black Friday, did not produce the incremental gains we expected.

“To address the challenges and opportunities coming out of the fourth quarter, the merchandising and marketing team has been revamped and now will report directly to me,” Efird added. “We have developed new pricing, marketing, inventory management and profit strategies that are designed to drive greater profitability throughout the year, with a key goal of re-energizing fourth quarter results in 2014. At the same time, we will continue to implement the successful elements of our reconfiguration plan, adding 150 to 200 conversions in 2014 and aggressively continuing our pharmacy expansion, which will reach 60% penetration of total stores by year end 2014.”


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