* Retail pharmacy market share now 19.5 pct
* On track for savings of $1 bln in fiscal 2011
* Shares up 2 pct
(Adds share rise, background, store openings pace)
NEW YORK, Nov 4 Walgreen Co WAG.N is on track
to meet its goal of $1 billion in savings this fiscal year as
it converts thousands of drug stores to a new, streamlined
The drugstore chain is slowing its pace of store openings
as it converts existing stores to a new format that reduces
some of its pharmacists' administrative workload so they can
spend more time interacting with customers.
It sees store growth of between 2.5 and 3 percent in 2011,
down from 4.2 percent in 2010 from 9 percent in 2008. It
currently has more than 7,600 stores.
By the end of 2011 it will have converted 5,500 of its
stores to the new format.
Walgreen made the comments at an investor meeting on
Thursday that was simultaneously broadcast over the Internet.
Walgreen also said its share of the U.S. retail pharmacy
market has increased to 19.5 percent from 18.2 percent in
While the weak U.S. economy has led consumers to spend
less, even on nondiscretionary items like prescription drugs,
Walgreen's unexpectedly strong September sales results
indicated that it has benefited from stronger pricing.
September sales at pharmacies open at least a year rose 0.3
percent, better than the 1.7 percent decline analysts
Walgreen's shares were up 2 percent in early afternoon
trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, outperforming
the broad S&P 500 .SPX index and stock of rival CVS Caremark
Corp (CVS.N), up 1.4 percent.
(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Derek Caney and Tim