Rite Aid posts wide loss, to shutter up to 117 stores

Camp Hill, Pa. Rite Aid Corp. said Thursday its loss more than doubled in the fiscal fourth quarter and said it plans to close as many as 117 stores over the next year.

The company took a write-down of $1.81 billion in the fourth quarter, mainly from its purchase of 1,850 Brooks Eckerd drug stores in 2007. Those stores haven't performed as well as Rite Aid's older stores.

Rite Aid reported a loss of $2.3 billion, compared with $960.4 million a year ago. In addition to the write-down, Rite Aid reported other one-time charges totaling 43 cents per share. Excluding those items, Rite Aid lost $116.9 million. Revenue fell 2%, to $6.71 billion.

Rite Aid had 4,901 stores in 31 states at the end of the fiscal year, and said it has made plans to close 117 by Feb. 28, 2010. That includes 60 closings in the first quarter, about 18 of which appear to have already happened. It plans to open 20 stores this year, and move 55 others.

Rite Aid has been trying to cut inventory and expenses. It said Thursday it will close a distribution center in Newnan, Ga., in late September. The distribution center served 194 stores, and it will be replaced by other distribution centers.

Rite Aid acquired the center in June 2007 when it bought 1,850 Brooks Eckerd stores and six distribution centers. The company said in January it would close a similar facility in Bohemia, N.Y.