By  on December 23, 2008

Walgreen Co. — the drugstore chain with 6,500-plus doors — will again pull back the reins on new store openings.

The company said Monday it will further reduce its organic (or nonacquisition-related) store openings to between 4 and 4.5 percent in 2010 and between 2.5 and 3 percent in 2011. The planned slowdown comes on the heels of an announcement last July to reduce organic store openings to 5 percent by 2011. The company said the lowered target rate will reduce capital expenditures through 2011 by an additional $500 million, on top of the $500 million in capital expenditure savings announced in July.

“We believe that further slowing of organic growth is a prudent step in the context of the current economic conditions,” said Walgreens president and chief operating officer Gregory Wasson. He added the move will free up capital for other projects, including store remodels and the expansion of retail clinics.

In the first quarter ended Nov. 30, Walgreens reported its earnings decreased 10.4 percent to $408 million, or 41 cents a diluted share, from $456 million, or 46 cents a share in the year-earlier period. Sales gained 6.6 percent to $14.95 billion, up from $14.03 billion, with comparable stores rising 1.7 percent in the quarter.

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