In yesterday's Business & Finance section a caption had the identifications of the chairman and president of Peoples Drug reversed.
Executives of Peoples Drug Stores Inc. forecast yesterday that "mean and lean" management will produce uninterrupted sales and profit gains this year despite a weak economy and the ravages of winter storms, which have cut into recent sales.
Directors of the Alexandria-based retail drug chain, largest in the D.C. area market and one of the nation's biggest, also approved a 12 1/2 percent boost in the common stock dividend rate. Beginning with an April 1 payout to owners of record Feb. 27, Peoples will pay 9 cents a share quarterly compared with 8 cents last year.
The dividend increase--fourth in the past four years--followed a record fiscal year ended Sept. 26, during which sales rose 13 percent to $634 million and profits rose 14 percent to $9.3 million ($2.39 a share).
At the company's annual meeting of stockholders yesterday in Springfield, President Sheldon Fantle warned that economic conditions of today will last for most of 1982. But, he added, "we want no erosion of profits and a continuation of a 15 percent compounded annual growth rate," which has propelled Peoples to the top ranks of the national industry.
Since many of the chain's 540 stores are located in such economically depressed industrial states as Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Fantle said company gains in 1982 must come from such internal efficiencies as reduced inventories and fewer "markdowns"--goods sold at low prices and greatly reduced profits to clear out unsold merchandise.
Fantle noted that Peoples had made substantial progress in cutting its inventories last year, to $103 million at the end of the fiscal year compared with $111 million 12 months earlier.
After the meeting, Fantle said sales in the first quarter of the new fiscal year (which ended two weeks ago) were up about 5 percent from last year while profits are expected to be somewhat better. Holiday-season sales were good but severe weather conditions cut into sales sharply during the first two weeks of this month, he added.
In the first fiscal quarter a year ago, Peoples earned $4.1 million ($1.06 a share) on sales of $207 million.
Chairman Adrian Israel said consumers currently are husbanding their resources by boosting savings and cutting debts at a time when reduced taxation should lead to strong buying in future months as spendable income and confidence about the economy grow.
Fantle also told stockholders that the company's expansion plans have not abated because of the national recession. He said 40 new drug stores would be opened in the current year and that 50 existing stores would be completely renovated. Last year, Peoples opened 13 new stores, acquired 34 stores through acquisition of chains based in Iowa and Indiana, closed four old stores and remodeled 56 units.
He also revealed that all of the company's stores would be given the Peoples name--which will involve costs he said would be more than offset by the ability to provide continuity in advertising throughout the 14 states and D.C. where the firm does business, "especially in the cable television area, which is becoming more important day by day."
Currently, Peoples operates under that name in the greater Washington region but under other names in various states, which reflect acquisitions over the years--Health Mart in parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia; Lane in Ohio; Reed and Lee in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee; Haag in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky; and Drug Fair in Iowa and Michigan (not related to Drug Fair of Alexandria, now a subsidiary of the Sherwin Williams paint company and a major Peoples competitor in the Washington region).
Stockholders yesterday elected one new director, Gerald Cramer, a partner in the White Plains, N.Y., investment advisory firm of Cramer, Rosenthal & Co. He succeeds Edward Schuman, who retired from the board at the age of 76.