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Eckerd moves into Manhattan

By MARK ALBRIGHT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2003

After surrounding New York City with drugstores, Eckerd Corp. is moving into the high-priced real estate of Manhattan for the first time.

The Largo chain has signed a lease for a high-profile store across the street from ground zero in Four World Financial Center, the Battery City headquarters of Merrill Lynch, American Express and Dow Jones & Co. The neighborhood has not had a drugstore since a Duane Reade, part of a New York chain, was destroyed in the basement mall at the World Trade Center.

Tackling new markets is something Eckerd hasn't done for a while. It's been losing market share to bigger rivals partly because they've been building stores at a far more feverish pace. With plans to open 250 new stores this year, Eckerd is getting back in the race, including moving into Phoenix and Denver.

Finding opportunities in Manhattan's pricey real estate market takes more time, but the chain is looking for the first time.

Eckerd has had stores in New Jersey, Connecticut and upstate New York for several years. It's been a player in Long Island since buying the 140-store Genovese Drug chain in 1997. Genovese provided Eckerd with a single store in Manhattan. But Eckerd kept the Genovese Drug name on the marquee there as well as in the Long Island suburbs.

The generic and store brands in all Genovese stores carry the Eckerd name. And the single Genovese store on Second Avenue in New York is now called Genovese/Eckerd.

While the landlord at the World Financial Center said the new store there will be the first Eckerd in Manhattan, the chain is not ready to go that far.

"We're still talking about whether to change the name to Eckerd in Manhattan," said Dennis Miller, Eckerd's chief financial officer. "We're doing the research."

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