Drug Fair Inc. yesterday unveiled a new subsidiary, a new corporate symbol and a new consumer activist role.
The new subsidiary is a planned chain of ice cream shops to be called Scoops. The first unit will open next week in suburban Chillum, president Milton L. Elsberg told stockholders at the company's annual meeting.
The new symbol will be introduced soon into the company's advertising and then gradually will be put up on the stores, he said.
Noting that "physical change must be backed up with substantive change," Elsberg said executives need to "see our company through the eyes of the consumer."
Consumers will see the company's new position later this week in advertisements endorsing creation of a federal consumer protection agency. Drug Fair is the first major business in Washington to endorse the consumer agency and one of the few such firms in the nation.
"We think the Office of Consumer Representatation is an idea whose time has come," say the ads, signed by Elsberg and Myron Gerber, chairman of the board of Drug Fair.
There were no complaints either from consumers or stockholders at the chain's annual meeting. Officers, directors and auditors were reelected without opposition or comment.
At a directors meeting that followed, a quarterly cash dividend of 10 cents a share was declared, payable Feb. 28 to shareholders as of Feb. 17.
For the three months ended Sept. 30. Drug Fair yesterday reported sales of $56.8 million up from $55.2 million in the comparable period a year ago.
Net earnings for the three months increased to $1.32 million (40 cents a share) from $1.25 million (37 cents) in the 1976 period.
Noting that the earnings amounted to only 1.2 cents of tach customers dollars. Elsberg said "one of the ways in which we are attempting to offset increasing operational costs is to develop a more profitable merchandise mix" by diversifying.
A wholly-owned subsidiary. Active Casuals Inc. has opened three Wrangler Wranch franchised jeans and casual clothes stores in the past year and will open three more by year's end, in Parole and Hagerstown. Md. and Lancaster. Pa.
Within four years, Drug Fair's Wrangler Wranch franchises will be expanded to 40 units, said Stuart M. Elsberg, senior vice president and director of diversified operations.
He also heads up the ice cream shop division, which will open its first Scoops shop next week adjacent to the Drug Fair store in Coillum, which is reopening after flood damage.
Some Scoops units will be small shops around 500 square feet built into the front of Drug Fair stores, but with their own entrance and hours. Others will be in the 1,500 square feet range, located in strip centers and malls.
Stuart Elsberg said the ice cream stores will be expanded to 40 locations in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Pennysylvania within two years and will hit a $4 million annual volume.
The ice cream shops will stress an "all-nautral theme" with Breyers ice cream and natural toppings and flavors, said Sol. R. Neidorf. Drug Fair's director of food operations, who will supervise the enterprise.
Neidorf noted Drug Fair has soda fountains in its 168 drug stores and has successfully tested the ice cream shop concept. Besides 25 flavors of hand dipped ice cream. Scoops will sell several varieties of all natural frozen yogurt, plus old-fashioned sodas and sundaes and take-home ice cream items.
Unlike Baskin-Robbins ice cream shops, which stress carry outs, Scoops will have tables and booths, and in the larger units, party rooms, Neidorf said.
Drug Fair will open three more drug stores by year's end and has eight more units under contract. The company also has taken the first steps toward computerized inventory control for by contracting for 10 electronic checkouts, scheduled to be installed early next year, the president said.