Some buildings not part of Walgreens deal now up for sale by LaFrance family


Stephen L. LaFrance Pharmacy Inc. has placed some of its drug store buildings on the market as it continues to sell assets related to its USA Drug and Super D Drug stores.

A $438 million agreement announced July 5 that Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., would purchase Pine Bluff-based LaFrance Pharmacy did not include the sale of several of the buildings that house USA Drug and Super D Drug locations, according to a Walgreen Co. spokesman.

For-sale signs were recently placed in front of the Super D Drugs at West 28th Avenue and Sout Hazel Street and the USA Drug location at West 28th Avenue and South Fir Street.

James W. Graham, a Walgreen Co. Corporate Media Relations representative, said Nov. 29 that the LaFrance family maintained ownership of these buildings and their attached leases despite its deal with Walgreens.

“Although Walgreens acquired the USA Drug chain of retail drug stores, some buildings where the acquired stores operate remain the property of the LaFrance Family or other third-party landlords with Walgreens as a tenant,” Graham said. “The LaFrance Family has decided to sell some of those buildings and the attached leases as it continues to divest itself of drugstore assets.

“Their real estate decisions have no relation to Walgreens decisions about the operation of specific stores. We will continue to analyze all of our markets to ensure the best possible service to our customers at the best locations,” Graham said.

The drug store chains operated by LaFrance Pharmacy and purchased by Walgreen Co. include USA Drug, Super D Drug, May’s Drug, Med-X and Drug Warehouse.

Stephen LaFrance, chairman and owner of Stephen LaFrance Holdings Inc., said in July that he decided to sell the business that he founded in 1968 so that he would have more time to spend with his family.

“I am 70 years old,” LaFrance said in July. “I have three children and seven grandchildren. My wife and I have been married for 44 years. I’m going to take care of our family.”

LaFrance said it was not an easy decision to make.

“This company is my baby,” LaFrance said. “I started it from scratch. I’m going to miss it terribly,” LaFrance said.

SAJ sale

The July sale of LaFrance Pharmacy to Walgreen Co. included SAJ Distributors, the wholesale distribution arm of the business, as well as the private label product line Select Brand.

In a deal announced Nov. 28, L&R Distributors of Brooklyn, New York, entered into an agreement to buy the assets of SAJ Distributors and Select Brand from Walgreen Co.

L&R said that it will operate the distribution center and offices in Pine Buff under the SAJ name and retain many of the existing staff who work in customer service, accounting, purchasing and operations.

LaFrance formed SAJ Distributors in the mid-1970s as a full-service wholesale distribution company located in Pine Bluff.

Company stats

Baylor Guy, vice president for human resources with LaFrance Holdings, said in July that the drug store chain included 144 sites across eight states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Tennessee.

Guy said the total number of employees was 3,133, with about 1,374 in Arkansas and 500 in Jefferson County.

Guy said there were four USA Drug locations in Jefferson County and a total of 47 stores, two corporate offices and a distribution center in Arkansas.

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drug chain and last year had sales of $72 billion. It operates 7,890 drug stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

USA Drug and the other drugstores in the chain recorded sales of $825 million in 2011, according to a Walgreens news release.

Business timeline

LaFrance managed pharmacies in the Gibson Department Store as well as the Magic Mart store on West 28th Avenue from the late 1960s until the mid-1970s.

In October 1997, LaFrance formed a family owned and operated corporation, Stephen LaFrance Pharmacy Inc., to purchase all of the stores operating under the various names.

LaFrance led USA Drug’s acquistion of May’s Drug Stores Inc. and Med-X Corp. in Tulsa, Okla., in the summer of 2004.

— Rick Joslin and Deborah Horn contributed to this article.