Columbia Inks Management Deal With Eckerd

Columbia Energy Services, the nonregulated gas and electric marketing subsidiary of Columbia Energy Group, signed a deal Monday to supply many of the Eckerd Corp.'s drugstores with gas and electric management. No terms of the deal were released.

Columbia will develop and implement programs for the acquisition and management of Eckerd's natural gas requirements. In states where gas deregulation has reached the small commercial level, Columbia will supply gas to the stores. Columbia already manages energy for Eckerd stores in Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

"Although the deal was done at the corporate level, we continue to add stores to the list," said a source. "That is why we haven't announced the terms of the deal. Hopefully, we won't stop until we've signed them all."

Although the source could not reveal the names of other clients, she did say Columbia had energy management deals with other national department stores and restaurant chains. Columbia Energy Services markets over 4.3 Bcf/d to clients throughout the U.S.

"Columbia Energy Services is placing a distinctive focus on our national accounts," the spokesperson said. "This kind of agreement will be occurring frequently in the very near future. On the scale of things, however, this Eckerd deal is fairly substantial."

The Clearwater, FL-based Eckerd Corp. is a wholly owned subsidiary of J.C. Penny Co. There are 2,900 Eckerd drug stores in 20 states within the Northeast, Midwest, and Sun Belt regions of the U.S. Eckerd projects its 1999 revenues to be $12 billion.

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