New Brooks Eckerd HQ slated for Sept. opening

Employees of Brooks Eckerd Pharmacy will begin to move into their new U.S. headquarters in East Greenwich as soon as September, according to Ken Spader, vice president of construction, store planning and development.

“We’re very pleased – it’s probably 65 percent complete,” he said. “We’re in a position to start housing the building in late September, right on schedule.”

The move not only will provide more space for the recently expanded company, but also will allow all of its departments to finally be under one roof.

In Warwick, where the company has been based for 10 years, the headquarters is separated into two locations: one on Service Avenue and one on Post Road, in the Ann & Hope building. The latter space was needed after Brooks acquired Eckerd pharmacies in 2004, and the headquarters’ staff jumped from 190 employees to between 650 and 750.
“We have to combine them into one building, to be more efficient,” Spader said. The total space for the company’s operations also will increase, he noted. “We are using 200,000 square feet now,” he said. “The new building is 278,000 square feet.”

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In 2004, when Brooks broke ground on the project, the plan was to build a 199,080 square foot building, but the company later decided to amend that and go with a larger building.

“We needed space,” Spader said. “It has to house 800 employees.”

The headquarters handles the U.S. operations of Brooks Eckerd, a subsidiary of the Quebec-based Jean Coutu Group Inc., which controls 1,869 stores in 18 states. In both the Eastern United States and Canada, the Jean Coutu Group is the second-largest drugstore chain; it is the fourth-largest in all of North America.

The new Brooks Eckerd building will be on Division Street in East Greenwich, a location Spader said was chosen, in part, because of the employees. “That parcel of land worked with the highway system,” he said, “and when we looked at where the employees lived, it made sense to go there.”

The move is expected to be completed by Jan. 15, when the building will officially open. Spader said the slow transition is intended both to give the company time to finish up “odds and ends” in the new building and to allow for the holiday season.

“Just as any other retailer, you don’t want to disturb functions during a store’s busy times,” he said.

Francois J. Coutu, president and CEO of the parent company, has said that the R.I. Economic Development Corporation and local officials in East Greenwich have both been helpful during the relocation, and have shown an understanding of the company’s goals.