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Fred’s gets new CEO

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MEMPHIS — Fred’s Inc. has promoted Mike Bloom, its president and chief operating officer, to succeed chief executive officer Jerry Shore. Bloom’s promotion took effect August 29, the date the retailer announced that Shore was stepping aside as CEO and planned to retire in February.

Bloom, a former executive with CVS and Family Dollar Stores, joined Fred’s in early 2015 as part of a push for management talent that could lead a turnaround centered on building the pharmacy brand and upgrading stores. Bloom was one of the first executives recruited after Shore rose to the CEO position, in November 2014, after a brief stint as COO. Earlier, Shore had served Fred’s for more than 14 years as executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“Jerry and Mike have worked side by side for nearly two years. We are fortunate to have had Jerry’s successor in place for this transition,” Fred’s chairman Thomas Tashjian commented. “With more than 30 years of experience in small-box retail, throughout merchandising, marketing, supply chain and store operations, Mike has proven himself as a strategic, innovative and effective leader. As our president and chief operating officer, Mike has been the architect of the transformation taking place in our front store. Our board and the company’s entire management team are enthusiastic and confident about the capabilities and vision that Mike brings to the CEO position.”

During Shore’s tenure, pharmacies were added to more of Fred’s stores and the retailer acquired EntrustRx, a company licensed in all 50 states to dispense specialty drugs to treat complex diseases and conditions, with its main lines of therapy focused on hepatitis C, oncology, growth hormones and rheumatology.

“I am very grateful for the time I have spent at Fred’s, the fine people I have come to know as colleagues and the opportunities I have had to join with others in moving this company forward,” Shore commented. “Now, knowing that the leadership of Fred’s passes to the capable hands of Mike Bloom, I look forward to spending more time with my family and enjoying the many other interests that never seemed to fit into my hectic schedule.”

Bloom said he was “honored and humbled” by the opportunity to lead Fred’s. “I am confident that the strategies we are laying out and the investments we are making will further evolve this unique business model — as a regional provider of health care services and value merchandise in the markets that we serve — and will position us to realize long-term, sustainable growth.”

Earlier in the month Fred’s announced the promotion of Timothy Liebmann to the role of chief operating officer of pharmacy, a new position.

Liebmann joined Fred’s in June as vice president of pharmacy services. He was promoted to succeed Rick Chambers, who held the title of executive vice president of pharmacy operations. Chambers is retiring from the company.

“We are indeed grateful to Rick for his many dedicated years of service to Fred’s, having started his career with Fred’s in 1992 as a pharmacist in one of the company’s stores and advancing quickly to his current position. We wish him the best in his retirement,” Shore said in an August 19 statement. “We are also very pleased to be able to promote a veteran with more than 25 years of proven leadership in the pharmacy industry to this important role. Tim has an impressive track record, spanning a broad range of expertise and experience that includes all aspects of pharmacy management as well as financial and operational management,” Shore added. “We are confident that he will continue to build on our mission to improve lives of patients and customers by providing quality health care ­services.”

Fred’s in August also got a new chief merchant: Mary Lou Gardner was transferred into the role upon the announcement on August 17 that Bryan Pugh had resigned. Gardner assumed Pugh’s title as executive vice president and chief merchandising and marketing officer. Gardner joined Fred’s in February as senior vice president of strategy and project management. Gardner spent most of 2015 as executive director of Market Performance Group, a sales management and strategy consulting firm. Previously she worked for nearly 12 years at CVS Health.

Fred’s operates 651 discount general merchandise stores, 372 of which have full-service pharmacies. Pharmacies generate about half the company’s sales and are regarded as a magnet that brings in shoppers who also buy general merchandise.


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