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Fred’s revamps its board of directors

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Inc. has overhauled its board of directors, including the appointment of chief executive officer Michael Bloom and retail industry veterans Christopher Bodine and Peter Bocian as members.

Fred’s said Tuesday that Bloom, Bodine and Bocian join the board effective immediately. Former Fred’s CEOs Jerry Shore and Michael Hayes and longtime director John Eisenman are retiring from the Fred’s board and won’t stand for re-election at the company’s 2017 annual shareholders meeting.

The moves were described by Fred’s as “part of a robust and ongoing reconstitution process,” and the company said the changes were made with the assistance of executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

“We are pleased to welcome Chris, Pete and Mike to the Fred’s Pharmacy board of directors,” chairman Thomas Tashjian said in a statement. “This is an exciting time for Fred’s Pharmacy, as our highly experienced management team continues to execute on value-enhancing initiatives, including acquiring 865 Rite Aid stores, optimizing our store fleet and upgrading our technology infrastructure.”

Tashjian added that more board changes are in the offing, with Fred’s poised to become a much larger retail pharmacy player. The addition of the Rite Aid stores — slated for divestiture as part of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s deal to acquire Rite Aid Corp. — would make Fred’s the third-largest U.S. drug chain, with 1,219 pharmacies in 1,508 stores.

“Under Mike’s leadership, Fred’s has made significant progress towards the execution of our strategic vision, and we are thrilled that he can expand his role in the company through today’s appointment. All of our new directors strengthen our board by contributing their vast knowledge of the retail and health care industries, substantial leadership experience and financial expertise and strong track record of successfully integrating acquisitions,” Tashjian stated. “Moreover, our work is not done, as we continue to transform the board to ensure we have the right experience and expertise to ensure the success of Fred’s Pharmacy’s exciting future.”

Bloom took the CEO reins at Fred’s from the retiring Shore in late August. Bloom joined Fred’s as president and chief operating officer in January 2015. Before that, he served as president and COO of Family Dollar Stores and earlier had a 20-year career at CVS Caremark, most recently as executive vice president of merchandising, supply chain, marketing and advertising.

“I am delighted to be joining the board, especially at such an important time for the Company,” Bloom commented. “Since we assembled the management team in 2015, we have been executing on a comprehensive plan to optimize performance at the company. We are also focused on completing the transformative acquisition of 865 Rite Aid stores. We believe our leadership team’s significant transaction experience will enable a smooth integration of the Rite Aid stores. I look forward to working with my fellow board members to continue to grow the company and make Fred’s Pharmacy the industry leader I know it can be.”

Bodine, who currently serves on the board of Allergan plc as a director, was a longtime CVS executive. Fred’s noted that his 24 years at CVS include significant mergers-and-acquisitions experience, such as the merger of the CVS drug chain with pharmacy benefit manager Caremark, purchases of about 1,260 Eckerd drug stores and more than 700 Sav-on and Osco stores, and the acquisition of retail health clinic operator MinuteClinic.

“I am excited about joining the Fred’s Pharmacy board and look forward to putting my skills and experiences in the industry to work on behalf of all of the company’s investors,” Bodine stated. “Pete, Mike and I will work closely with the other members of the board to help set the company’s strategy and advance the company’s efforts to enhance value for Fred’s Pharmacy shareholders.”

Most recently, Bocian was executive vice president and chief financial officer at Safeway, serving in that role for about two years until 2015. Fred’s said he played a leadership role in creating more value at the food and drug chain leading up to its merger with Albertsons Cos. Bocian also has served in C-suite or executive-level finance and administrative roles at NCR, Starbucks, Hewlett-Packard and JPMorgan Chase.

“I am honored to join the talented individuals on the Fred’s Pharmacy board,” Bocian commented. “With its focused mission and first-class management team, I am confident Fred’s Pharmacy has a bright future. Working with my fellow board members, I look forward to making immediate contributions.”

Overall, Fred’s currently has 643 discount general merchandise stores and three specialty pharmacy-only locations in 15 Southeastern states. The stores include 354 full-service pharmacies.


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