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CVS to close about 900 stores over next three years, as it shifts to digital strategy

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People walk by a CVS Pharmacy store in the Manhattan borough of New York City.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

CVS Health said Thursday that it will close about 900 stores over the next three years, as it adjusts to shoppers who are buying more online.

The company announced in a news release that it will focus more of its efforts on digital growth and turning its stores into destinations that offer a range of health-care services, from flu shots to diagnostic tests.

Store closures will begin in spring 2022. The company said it plans to close about 300 per year. In total, the closures will add up to roughly 9% of CVS’ approximately 10,000 U.S. stores.

CVS is shaking up its business as the pandemic accelerates changes in consumer behavior. More people are getting prescriptions filled online, retrieving personal care items through curbside pickup and visiting with doctors through telehealth. The drugstore chain and health insurer said it is closing the stores based on changes to the population, consumer habits and health needs.

Going forward, CVS said it will have three different store formats to better engage customers. One group of stores will offer primary care services. Another will become HealthHubs, a new kind of store that has products and services health needs like treating common illnesses like strep throat, screening for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and providing services like therapist appointments for mental health. A third group will remain traditional stores that fill prescriptions and sell items from shampoo to milk.

The company is also changing some of its leadership roles. It has created a new role, chief pharmacy officer, and named Prem Shah to the position. Shah and Michelle Peluso, chief customer officer, will become co-presidents who will lead the two parts of company’s retail business — the front of the store and the pharmacy. Both will report to CVS’ CEO Karen Lynch, who stepped into the top leadership role in February.

Neela Montgomery, president of CVS Retail/Pharmacy, will leave the company at the end of 2021.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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