Big B Drugs

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1977 Big B Drugs advertisement

Big B Drugs was a drug store chain that began operation in 1968 as part of Bruno's Supermarkets, headquartered in Birmingham. Most of its stores were located next to a Bruno's, Food World or FoodMax, all Bruno's-owned stores.

In 1982, Big B was spun-off from Bruno's Supermarkets into an independent company, Big B Inc., headquartered at 2600 Morgan Road in Bessemer. In 1989, Big B acquired 85 Reed Drug Stores and Lee Drug Stores in Georgia and East Alabama from Peoples Drug.

The company had 397 locations, 6,000 employees, and close to $800 million in revenue by 1996, making it the 10th largest pharmacy chain in the United States. It had experienced 19 straight quarters of sales and earnings gains until costs overshadowed revenues in the third quarter of 1995, partly because of the pricing pressure exerted by Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). The precipitous decline in earnings were compounded by higher employee and insurance costs. A new $20 million computerized tracking system, installed the same year, quickly revealed the rapidly-tightening margins, forcing the company to adjust its forward outlook statements downward, causing a tumble in stock prices. The combined effects of those developments made the company especially vulnerable to a takeover.

A $14-per-share hostile takeover bid by Twinsburg, Ohio-based Revco Drug Stores was initially dismissed by chairman Anthony Bruno and was quickly raised to $15. After Big-B's investment bankers solicited offers from other rival chains, a bidding competition broke between Revco and an unnamed suitor. Revco ultimately pushed their offer up to $17.25 per share and the other suitor dropped out of the bidding.

Within months, Revco was itself acquired by Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS. By the end of 1997, all Big B Drugs and Revco were operating as CVS locations. Big B Inc. remained the franchise owner and licensee well after the change was made.

Birmingham District locations

A Big B Drugs storefront


  • Williams, Roy L. (June 30, 1996) "Big B's blues: The drugstore giant has suffered from poor earnings, despite record sales, bit it says rumors of a buyout are just that." The Birmingham News
  • Underwood, Jerry (October 3, 1996) "Big B says others beat Revco's offer." The Birmingham News
  • Underwood, Jerry (November 3, 1996) "Revco rival for Big B dropped out at last minute." The Birmingham News
  • Underwood, Jerry (January 12, 1997) "Big B was big pool's small fish: Pharmacy shark Revco gobbled up drug chain." Birmingham News
  • "Big B Drugs" (July 14, 2007) Wikipedia - accessed July 25, 2007
  • Bruno's Supermarkets annual reports 1971-1983
  • Big B, Inc. Annual Reports 1982-1995
  • Imasco, Limited Annual Report 1986-1989