Williamston, Belton, Piedmont Fred’s locations closing

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Discount merchandise retailer Fred’s is closing stores throughout the Southeast and two local stores are among those on the most recent list. The Williamston and Belton Fred’s locations are scheduled to be closed soon. The Piedmont store was on a store closure list released in May in which the company announced that they were closing almost one third of their 557 stores. Most of those were located in 13 states with Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee having the most. At present only five in South Carolina are slated to be closed including the two local stores, and stores located in Abbeville, Andrews and Edgefield. However eleven SC store closings were announced in April including stores in Anderson and Iva. In May,  Fred’s announced nine more SC locations were closing, including the Piedmont store.
Fred’s CEO Joseph Anto said in the statement,  “After a careful review, we have made the decision to rationalize our footprint by closing underperforming stores, with a particular focus on locations with shorter duration leases,” “Most of these stores have near‐term lease expirations and limited remaining lease obligations.”
According to reports, sales at Fred’s stores open at least a year fell 4.9 percent in the first nine months of 2018, compared with a year earlier.
Just three years ago it looked as if the future for Fred’s would be good. According to wikipedia – On December 21, 2016, Fred’s announced it would acquire 865 stores as a result of the Walgreens/Rite Aid merger expected to close in 2017. The acquisition would have more than doubled the number of stores Fred’s operated. However, on June 29, 2017, Walgreens withdrew plans to acquire Rite Aid and instead opted to buy out half of their stores, a move which nullified Fred’s planned acquisition of the Rite Aid stores. In February 2017 Chief Executive Officer Jerry A. Shore retired.
In April 2019, Fred’s announced that 159 stores would close by the end of May due to declining sales and timing of lease expirations at the affected locations; company officials would subsequently announce in May that an additional 105 locations would be liquidated by the end of June; and it was announced in June that an additional 49 stores would close by the summer. The three rounds of closures cut the company’s 557 store count as of April 2019 by 56% to 244 stores.
The chain said recently that it would have about 80 stores left after the latest in a series of store closures.
“While it is never easy to make decisions that impact our valued employees and customers, this initiative represents another necessary step in our continued efforts to stabilize our business by simplifying our store portfolio and product assortment,” Fred’s CEO Anto said.