Eckerd Corporation was an American drug store chain that was headquartered in Largo, Florida, and toward the end of its life, in Warwick, Rhode Island.
The chain had approximately 2,800 stores in 23 states as far west as Arizona. In 2004 it was the fourth largest drug chain in the U.S. In April 2004, the company (then a subsidiary of J. C. Penney) was broken up in a $4.52 billion deal, with approximately 1269 stores in Florida, Louisiana and Texas, along with Eckerd's $1.3 billion mail order pharmacy, sold to CVS Corporation, now CVS Caremark., The deal enabled CVS to leapfrog past rival Walgreens with some 5,400 stores. Because CVS already owned 74 stores in Florida at the time, including 19 in the Tampa Bay Area, many duplicate locations were closed. The remaining stores were sold to the Jean Coutu Group and merged with its Brooks Pharmacy chain. The Eckerd name and corporate headquarters, which housed 1,000 administrative workers at the time in Largo, Florida would remain temporarily intact while under the Coutu ownership. The sale erased the chain's name among its 622 Florida stores, where it had been synonymous with the pharmacy business since Jack Eckerd bought three old drugstores in the Tampa Bay area in 1952. Brooks Eckerd, Jean Coutu's U.S. operations would eventually be sold to Rite Aid. In return, a stake in Rite Aid was ceded to the French-Canadian company. The remaining Eckerd locations became Rite Aids.
For CVS, Florida's older population is a crucial pharmacy marketplace in its ongoing competition with Walgreens. After a major building binge in the Sun Belt prior to 2004, Walgreens dislodged Eckerd as Florida's drugstore market share leader a few years prior to that. CVS needed Eckerd's real estate to mount a credible performance quickly.
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