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  • nasdaq_short_seller nasdaq_short_seller Aug 3, 2010 2:48 AM Flag

    What Happened to Walgreen's?

    There was once a time when Walgreens was one of the most admired F500 companies, a true WS darling. I remember back when I worked for Walgreens in the 90's for the entire decade, it was a great place to work. You couldn't go wrong with their empl.stock purchase plan. The stock split every other year, so it seemed. Walgreens was in the midst of their biggest store expansion in company history. I remember when we hit the 3k store mark, it was a BFD. The company actually cared about its employees. We were ALWAYS hiring. Hours were endless, you could rack up 20-30 hours of OT if you needed extra cash, because there were always new stores being set up where extra OT hours were abundant. Customers loved Walgreens. We were the first national RX chain to link all store prescriptions through Intercom, and this was long before the dotcom boom and age of widespread commercial internet. Intercom was done thru its own satellite uplink, amazing technology back in the day which put us years ahead of the competition. I remember Safeway and Osco (Albertson's) would have to call each store for copies. Those were the golden days. Customers flocked to Walgreens because of their low prices, and wide selection of products, as well as customer service.

    Today, I walk into Walgreens and it's almost like the life has been bled out of every store. You can see it on their shelves and by the attitudes of thier employees who operate like zombies. They're virtually bone dry. We used to carry over 100,000 unique OTC sku's in our store. I'd estimate today's store barely carries 20-25k. I tried to buy a can of WD-40. They simply didn't carry it. I needed jumper cables. They were $29.99, Walmart sells a similar set for half the price. The prices have become outrageous in comparison to their competition. Then there's the long waits. They NEVER have more than 1 register opened even during rush hour. Register 2, 3 are storage units, never operational.

    Shopping at Walgreen's is extremely frustrating. It's no longer convenient, because you can no longer find convenience items. And if you do, they'll jack you on the price. The beauty of Walgreens in the past was you could run in and find whatever you need at a very reasonable cost, and be out in 5 minutes. Today, I try to avoid Walgreens as much as possible because I don't want to be inconvenienced. I doubt Walgreens can survive much longer if it continues its current business model.

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    • Does anyone know if there are any other Walgreen family memebers with the company? Many years ago when i was a mgr we were at a meeting in Chicago and stopped into a store late at nite on Mich ave and met a WAG relative doing the nite shift. I was very impressed with him.
      Have owned this stock for over 25yrs, but starting about thinking about selling as it has done nothing for many years....

    • snag229 Aug 13, 2010 11:49 AM Flag

      I personnally worked for Dan Jorndt as a manager many years ago. He was a people person. Some of his employees in Waukegan got Xmas cards from him even after he became President of the Company. He carred about the employees of Walgreens. I am retired not, but the company has gone thru these situations several times since the 60,s.

    • birdpal4 Aug 13, 2010 12:03 AM Flag

      she probably is sincere but blaming the employees for walgreens job losses and low current sales was a slap in the face of all hardworking walgreen employees i thought laughing about it was too much. but somtimes you should walk in someones shoes to have a clearer pictuer about what the people here
      are posting about and dealing with.i also thought that her comment about moving up through the ranks was akin to inbreeding was a huge slap to all
      walgreens employees. mr jorndt said it best at a friday forum meeting once, and that was that
      walgreens most valuable asset was the employees and the wealth of knowledge and the COMMITMENT that they bring to their job and this sentiment was later reapeated by bernaur and rein but i have never heard it from wasson once and that truly is sad.

    • bemyapril, I believe you to be sincere, but I don't think you have a grip on where WAG is headed. Walgreen has been more successful than other pharmacy retailers for a variety of reasons. They acquired the best real estate. They led the way in providing superior customer service with superior technological utilization. They hired and developed some of the best talent in the pharmacy profession and kept them content with a combination of professional satisfaction and financial success they could not match elsewhere. Now the company has matured and other retailers have learned to compete more successfully, making it impossible for Walgreens to grow revenues like they once did. Wassom et al have taken the only avenue they see as offering hope. Cost cutting is the name of the game for a few years. That should allow Walgreens to maintain profitability for awhile longer, but I see it as a step in the decline of this company. We will no longer attract the best pharmacists and our pharmacists will no longer have the tools to provide superior service. We will become more like the competition and customers will find no reason to prefer us. Location by itself will probably allow us to fill more Rx's per store on average than our competition but we won't be increasing market share, just struggling to hold on to it. Meanwhile I believe some of the best pharmacy talent will return to independent practice and those independents will be a tremendous threat to chain stores. I remember when Sid Dworkin, CEO of Revco Drug Stores, admitted that his toughest competition was the well defined independent operator. That was in the 70's. A lot has changed to make it more difficult for independents but I think the next couple of decades will see a resurgence in independent pharmacy practice because chain stores, including Walgreens, will no longer offer the inspired pharmacist an opportunity to grow professionally. The quality of pharmacy graduates has improved greatly in recent years and those graduates will ultimately end up where the opportunity exists for professional development and financial security. That used to be Walgreens.

    • I still prefer Walgreens, but they lowered the shelves, and I feel like I am shopping in a store for midgets. Also, I know people who have worked for Walgreens for years, and they have lost their jobs. It is sad, like every other corporation. I still invest, because of the rising dividend. I also prefer getting my prescriptions there, because service is fast. I absolutely abhor Medco, where we have to obtain our mail-order prescriptions. They make mistakes, employ people who read off of scripts, and have people making decisions about my health who know nothing, absolutely NOTHING, about it. They are just profit driven. My doctor should be the one making the decision about what medication I take, not some anonymous person three states or another country away.

    • birdpal4 Aug 10, 2010 9:28 PM Flag

      lmao you don,t even work for walgreens
      first you know nothing about how to run a company and the financials involved ansd now you want to give employment advice?
      one thing i learned a loooong time ago sweetie when i meet people like you i find it best
      and most advisable to do the opposite in what you recommend
      like i said before LMAO

    • I am a 31 year employee and every word you said is true. The lack of product in the store is just wrong. I don't even spend my money here because there is nothing interesting or new to buy, even in the seasonal asile, The CCR is a joke

    • You're right. It is a little bit like the government. Bernauer spent years driving too slowly on the shoulder of the road and drove this company into a ditch.

      Wasson's team has their work cut out. It won't happen overnight. The stock price IMO reflects the failed strategies (or should I say, lack thereof) of prior management. Current bleeding is also a result of same.

      And I do consider Wasson's current team far superior to the inbred group before it that put the company in the ditch in the first place.

      And as far as "running on theory". Yes, to a degree thats true. But its better to have some vision, strategy, and goals, then none at all. Time will tell if there are the right ones. If you think they are, then jump in. Otherwise cut your losses and move on. If you are an employee, get on board or get out of the way.

    • I have not heard of anyone brought back. Although I know some IT folks are offered consulting jobs. (less pay, same work.)

    • at least 4 board members from outside the company brought in about that time frame too. Many with no retail or pharmacy perspective.

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