Coming off a fiscal year highlighted by record profits, its strongest increase in net income in a decade and its largest growth in earnings per share in more than 15 years, Walgreens Annual Shareholders Meeting today outlined the company's strategies for growth and value creation for shareholders.

Addressing nearly 2,000 shareholders in Chicago, Chairman Alan G. McNally, President and Chief Executive Officer Gregory D. Wasson and Executive Vice President and CFO Wade D. Miquelon also discussed the substantial progress the company is making toward its goal of becoming America's first choice for health and daily living, according to a company press release.

"As our broad-based transformation continued to accelerate and gain momentum, fiscal 2011 was a year of strong performance for Walgreens with record sales and earnings, double-digit growth in earnings per share in all four quarters and a dividend increase of more than 28 percent — the largest in the company's history," McNally said.

Disciplined focus on its core business strategy helped Walgreens set new records in fiscal 2011 of $72.2 billion in sales, $20.5 billion in gross profit and $2.94 in earnings per diluted share. In addition, cash flow from operations was $3.6 billion. All of this contributed to a dividend increase of 28.6 percent last July and cash returned to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases of $2.4 billion in fiscal 2011.

"Our opportunity now is to combine the best locations in America with an outstanding customer and patient experience — what we call the 'Well Experience,'" Wasson said. "Our new pilot drugstore format supports our vision of becoming My Walgreens for everyone in America, the first choice for health and daily living. We are stepping out of the traditional drugstore format and creating something unique, new and special."

Walgreens latest example of its "Well Experience" stores is its new flagship store that opened on Jan. 9 at the corner of State & Randolph streets in Chicago's Loop. The store features an enhanced, state-of-the-art pharmacy designed to encourage greater interaction between pharmacists and patients; a Take Care Clinic offering a wide range of health care services including vaccinations, health tests, physicals and treatments for common illnesses and minor injuries; an Upmarket Cafe featuring a juice bar and fresh hand-rolled sushi; and a LOOK Boutique beauty department featuring dozens of prestige and niche cosmetic, skincare and hair care brands not typically found in drugstores.

The pilot program for Walgreens "Well Experience" store format includes more than 20 locations in the Chicago area. On Jan. 19, the company takes the next step with its "Well Experience" format when it celebrates the grand re-opening of all of its Indianapolis market stores, which recently finished their conversion to the new pilot format.

Read more about specialty stores.

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