Employees at Fred’s in Waynesboro received an unwelcome surprise last week when the corporate office announced that the store had been added to the list of closures that just keeps growing.
Several of the employees at the Fred’s in Waynesboro told us that the company had been leading them to believe that they would remain open, amidst all the others across the southern U.S. that had already closed.
This round of closures includes 35 stores in Mississippi, 19 stores in Tennessee, 16 in Arkansas, 14 in Georgia, 13 in Arkansas, and 12 in Louisiana. The company says that their remaining pharmacies will stay open, including the one in Waynesboro. No more information has been released regarding the pharmacies.
"While it is never easy to make decisions that impact our valued employees and customers, this initiative represents another necessary step in our continued efforts to stabilize our business by simplifying our store portfolio and product assortment," Fred's CEO Joseph Anto said in a statement. Mr. Anto continued, "We are pleased to present our loyal customers the unique and compelling opportunity to purchase heavily discounted items for a limited time. We encourage shoppers to take advantage of these unmatched deals, and stock up on items that may be permanently removed from Fred's shelves, come August." The going-out-of-business sales began on Friday, July 12.
Fred's also said that they would hold "inventory clearance sales across all stores in an effort to refocus its product mix, simplify its store portfolio and repay debt."
The fate of Fred's has been shrouded in uncertainty since the company's plans to profit from a mega-merger between pharmacy giants Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid collapsed in late June 2017 amid federal anti-trust concerns. Fred's, which was set to dramatically increase its store count as part of that deal, was instead left with no clear path to growth.
Fred’s was founded in 1947 in Coldwater, Mississippi, and expanded across the Southeast.