After months of rumors and speculation, JCPenney sold its Eckerd drug chain to CVS Corp. and Canada's Jean Coutu Group for more than $4.5 billion. The move will enable the chain to focus on its department store and catalog Internet businesses. CVS Corp. will acquire nearly 1,260 locations and support facilities in the South for $2.15 billion. Eckerd's pharmacy-benefits-management and mail-order business also will revert to CVS Corp. The Jean Coutu Group paid approximately $2.375 billion for 1,540 stores located primarily in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.
Oregon Scientific Partners with Ferrari
Oregon Scientific, Inc., hopes to drive business via a new deal with Ferrari for an electronic learning laptop. The Ferrari pre-PC (suggested retail, $59.99) features the Ferrari logo and staple racing red, carbon fiber black, and polished silver colors and is targeted toward a slighter higher age group (ages 5 and up) than many of the company's other skus.
The Sharpe Co. Is Countin' Sheep
Peak Entertainment Holdings appointed The Sharpe Co. the North American licensing agent for Countin' Sheep, based on the age-old practice of counting sheep during sleepless nights. The property will launch at Licensing 2004 International Show with Sharpe Co. on the lookout for distributors and licensees in core categories such as books, toys, and collectibles. Countin' Sheep debuted in 2003 in the UK, where unit sales are expected to reach 250,000 in 2004.
A New Link to Classic Cartoons
Movielink will launch a new "Cartoon Classics" section on its Website via a deal with Classic Media and its affiliate Bullwinkle Studios. The broadband video-on-demand service will make more than 350 half-hours of classic cartoon programming available for download on www.Movielink.com. Here, consumers can download episodes of Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends, as well as Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Boris & Natasha, Dudley Do-Right, and Fractured Fairy Tales. The deal also includes other animated series from Classic Media's library including Casper the Friendly Ghost, Felix the Cat, Dick Tracy, and Mr. Magoo. Consumers can download their favorite cartoons from Movielink and its college site at college.movielink.com and store them on their hard drive for up to 30 days. Once play is initiated, they can watch the cartoon as many times as they would like in a 24-hour period. Favorite cartoons can be viewed at home via the PC, a television connected to the PC, or downloaded to a laptop for traveling.
RIOT Media Launches First Property
RIOT Media, a new company that will develop, produce, and market multiplatform entertainment programming and media products for 'tween boys, created RIOT as its flagship property. The company also will provide insights into the 'tween marketplace via its newly created RIOT Consulting, which already has been retained by TV Guide. The RIOT story is set in a fictional, small American city that is threatened when an evil circus arrives. Content will include a comic book, monthly magazine, and books; live-action and animated TV and home video programming; collectible game and trading cards; toys, electronic games, action figures, and other licensed products; and an interactive Website with an e-commerce element. First products are slated for spring 2005.
A "Crumby" New Property Debuts
Boggle Goggle Enterprises signed the Mercer Group to be the exclusive representative for its new "Joe Crumb" animated series. Joe Crumb introduces kids ages 5 to 8 to the underworld of crumbs and discards in a place called Crumbtown. Discussions are currently in the works with Davy Jones of The Monkees fame as the voice of Joe Crumb and Grammy-nominated jazz singer Neena Freelon as the voice of Berry, a tropical tattoo fruit rollup. The series will be produced in 2-D images with 3-D background scenes for 26 episodes.
Majesco Rolls Out New Product
Majesco Sales Inc. will create the Game Boy Advance SP Neckband Style Headphones as part of its rollout of the Game Boy Advance video product line this spring. Consumers can use the headphones while watching full-motion videos on their portable systems. The headphones require no additional adaptor and were developed exclusively for use with the Game Boy Advance SP. They work equally well for watching videos or playing games. Majesco Sales is the sole operating subsidiary of ConnectivCorp.
"Bear"ing It All on the Internet
The Herrington Teddy Bear Co., known for its signature branded bears and exclusive Harry and Hannah retail line, launched an e-commerce site, herringtonteddybears.com. The site features bears, clothing, books, and gift cards for children and adults, as well as an open forum for Hard Rock collectors and Herrington Teddy Bear Club fans to communicate and share their collections.
Cine-Manga Line Grows
Tokyopop Inc. and Disney Publishing Worldwide will extend Disney's Cine-Manga line with more than 24 titles over the next three years. Lilo & Stitch debuts this month with versions of That's So Raven, Princess Diaries 2, The Incredibles, and The Lizzie McGuire Movie slated throughout 2004. Tokyopop's Cine-Manga imprint of full-color books incorporates images directly from feature films and TV series, capturing the onscreen action, drama, and comedy in a lively, animated print format. In other Disney Publishing news, Sumita Bhattacharya was named director, Business Development and Strategic Planning, at Disney Publishing Worldwide. She will be responsible for identifying, assessing, and capturing new business opportunities, including potential acquisitions. She also will support corporate initiatives and will work with DPW's book, magazine, and licensed businesses to develop new revenue-driving opportunities. Fluent in Hindi and Bengali, Bhattacharya brings to DPW a strong personal knowledge of India, an area of great growth opportunity for the company.
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