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  • Boots, the UK HBC retailer, reported that fourth quarter sales in 2003 were up 5.2 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The company, which just yesterday announced that it was laying off 900 employees, said it was helped by strong Christmas sales.

    Tesco, of course, recently announced a broad cut in IBC product prices as a way of competing more strenuously with Boots in 2004.

  • For the six-week period ended Jan. 3, CVS posted sales of $3.36 billion, up 31.8 percent from the same period a year earlier. Same-store sales increased 9.4 percent. Pharmacy same-store sales increased 11.2 percent, while front-end same-store sales rose 6.1 percent.

  • McDonald's Corp. reported that same-store sales at its US restaurants were up 12.2 percent in December, and that fourth quarter sales are expected to be up 16.6 percent over the year before.

  • McDonald's is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results Jan. 23. It was just a year ago that it reported a larger-than-expected loss of $344 million and announced the closing of 700 restaurants.

  • Bake-Line Group, a private label and branded baking company, has ceased operations and filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

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