The Real Deal New York

While pols fight Walmart, Duane Reade quietly expands

July 20, 2011 09:11AM

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With opposition heating up against the rumored arrival of Walmart at a Related Companies site in East New York, some wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, Duane Reade, another “retail villain,” is expanding all over New York, the New York Observer said.

There are multiple similarities between Walmart and Duane Read, the Observer argued: corporate ownership, rapid expansion and an ambition to drive out competition. Duane Reade is the largest drugstore chain in the city, beating out Rite Aid by 60 stores and CVS by 138 stores. From having only 37 stores in 1992, Duane Reade has a total of 257 today, and more will follow, according to a company spokesperson.

Walgreens bought Duane Read for $618 million in cash and assumed $457 million it debt in early 2010, making it part of the U.S.’ largest drugstore business, one with $67 billion of sales in the fiscal year and 244,000 nonunion employees.

The difference between the threat of Walmart and that of Duane Reade, said City Council Member Charles Barron, is that when Duane Reade moves into a neighborhood, it’s “not going to create any competition, it’s not going to create any loss of jobs. It’s not big enough. It’s not powerful enough; they don’t have it like that.”

Walmart, he said, rejects local distributors and pays low wages. “Walmart is a rotating plantation looking for slaves to pay some low wages and continue to exploit communities to maximize its profits,” he said. [NYO]

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