Walgreens will finish taking ownership of 213 Rite Aid stores in North Carolina this month, but it will take some time before they are fully switched over.
Walgreens Boots Alliance received regulatory approval last fall for a deal to buy 1,932 rival Rite Aid stores mostly in the Northeast and South, plus three distribution centers, for $4.37 billion. The Deerfield, Ill.-based pharmacy chain took ownership of 79 North Carolina Rite Aid stores in January and plans to take control of 134 more in February, Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn told the Observer this week.
When stores transfer ownership, they become Walgreens-owned Rite Aid stores and employees switch to the new owner. The transferred locations have a Walgreens pharmacy, but the rest of the stores will continue normal business operations under the Rite Aid name, Cohn said.
“For pharmacy customers, Walgreens accepts most insurance plans and is a preferred pharmacy within a number of pharmacy networks,” Cohn said. “Overall, the vast majority of patients will continue to have coverage as a result of this transition.”
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For the time being, Rite Aid signs will remain on the exterior of stores, although there will be a notice on the door indicating a store is owned by Walgreens. In addition, there will be signs in the pharmacy, Cohn said.
Further conversions to the Walgreens brand will be done in phases over time once all the Rite Aid stores have been acquired, which is expected to be completed in March.
Walgreens, which operates 8,100 drugstores, has previously said it plans to close about 600 locations after completing its acquisition of the 1,932 Rite Aid stores, Cohn said. The company has not provided information on specific locations.
The deal to buy the Rite Aid stores came after Walgreens’ original plan to buy all of the rival chain for $9.4 billion fell through after a prolonged regulatory review. After the deal, Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid will continue to operate about 2,600 stores.
According to a securities filing last fall, Rite Aid will have nine locations in North Carolina and none in South Carolina after the transition.