Rite Aid: Wellness stores pace performance


While Rite Aid and Walgreens Boots Alliance continue to work toward a merger of their two operations in the coming year, 2016 marked several milestones for Rite Aid. In the past year, the company has converted almost half of its store base to the highly successful Wellness store format.

“[Rite Aid’s] approach to store development allows us to create store experiences that are highly personal, differentiated and fully aligned with our brand,” Ken Martindale, CEO of Rite Aid stores and president of Rite Aid Corp., told associates and partners at the company’s 2016 Rite Aid Supplier Conference. “We are now building some of the nicest drug stores in the world.”

“At Rite Aid, we are not standing still,” Martindale said. “We are further evolving our brand and moving forward with an even stronger passion for the innovative ideas that satisfy and delight our customers.”

The proof is in the performance, as comparable results for Wellness stores continue to exceed the chain average. As of Rite Aid’s third quarter, front-end sales growth across Rite Aid’s Wellness stores outperformed legacy stores by 221 basis points, and script count growth was 145 basis points higher in the remodeled stores as compared with legacy stores. Through Rite Aid’s third quarter, the company remodeled some 2,322 stores to some version of the Wellness concept since 2012.

Another key development in 2016 was the opening of the company’s new 900,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Spartanburg, S.C. — Rite Aid’s first new distribution center in 16 years. When fully operational, the highly advanced new distribution center will support more than 1,000 stores.

Healthcare focus

Meanwhile, Rite Aid has continued to build on its clinical offerings. To help drive awareness for its flu shot program, Rite Aid employs a comprehensive marketing campaign, including ads on music streaming services Spotify and Pandora, along with targeted promotions on digital and social media. In August, the company launched a special radio ad campaign to educate customers on the importance of protecting their health by getting a flu shot or other immunization at Rite Aid.

Rite Aid uses the flu season to educate consumers about the importance of keeping up with immunizations through the company’s Vaccine Central online portal, which it launched in 2014, as a resource to help consumers assess their vaccination needs. And to help employers fight the flu, Rite Aid deploys a team dedicated to planning and implementing onsite workplace flu clinics staffed by one of the company’s 11,000 certified immunizing Rite Aid pharmacists.

The company also has taken an additional public health role, helping to address the nation’s opioid addiction crisis by providing greater access to naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Rite Aid has trained more than 10,000 of its pharmacists on naloxone dispensing, and has made the medication available without a prescription in 23 states.

In August, Rite Aid’s RediClinic division partnered with Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey to open convenient care clinics inside select Rite Aid pharmacies. The joint venture covers 10 clinics, cobranded as Hackensack Meridian Health RediClinics. “It has always been a core part of RediClinic’s strategy to partner with leading healthcare systems, and we are excited to be continuing this strategy with one of the leading providers in New Jersey,” said Web Golinkin, RediClinic’s CEO. “The joint venture will facilitate and accelerate a high level of clinical integration, which will maximize the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of care.”

RediClinic — which also operates 36 clinics inside H-E-B grocery stores in Houston, Austin and San Antonio, Texas — operates 63 clinics inside select Rite Aid stores in the greater Philadelphia, New Jersey, Baltimore/Washington D.C., and Seattle areas. Since opening its first retail clinic in 2005, RediClinic has successfully treated more than 2 million patients.

Also in August, Rite Aid, with its EnvisionRx pharmacy benefit management division, announced the availability of Rx90, which gives patients the option to fill 90-day prescriptions at any Rite Aid pharmacy or via home delivery.

In December, Health Dialog — another of Rite Aid’s clinically focused subsidiaries — was recognized by Frost & Sullivan with the 2016 North American Award for Product Leadership. “The company’s [shared decision making] tools and capabilities, combined with its integrated suite of population health tools, are unique in the industry," said Nancy Fabozzi, principal analyst Frost & Sullivan. "The company designs cost-effective patient education and engagement strategies and ensures they are relevant to every patient across disease stages and population segments, facilitating consistent and efficient decision making.”

Corporate social responsibility

The Rite Aid Foundation also had a notable year in 2016. The Rite Aid Foundation's KidCents program remains a major focus for its philanthropic efforts, with more than 430 charities now part of the program. Through KidCents, customers who are members of Rite Aid's wellness+with Plenti program can round up their in-store or online purchases to the nearest dollar amount and donate the extra change to the KidCents fund.

In September 2016, the Rite Aid Foundation’s KidCents program, along with Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational scholarships to children of fallen or disabled service members, launched the DreamShip. The DreamShip, a fully operational hot air balloon, showcases artwork created by 130 Folds of Honor scholarship recipients symbolizing their hopes and dreams for the future. The DreamShip, with the help of official sponsors Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Nestlé Waters and Unilever, will travel the country to raise awareness and funds for Folds of Honor.

As part of its flu immunization efforts, Rite Aid offered a special campaign called "Spread Hope Not the Flu," which donated $5,000 to each of the charities supported by KidCents on behalf of customers who received a flu shot at Rite Aid from October through December 2016.

To ring in 2017, the Rite Aid Foundation welcomed 219 new nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the health and wellness of children into its KidCents program. Selected by Rite Aid associates and representative of the communities the company serves, each new charity received a $5,000 KidCents grant, totaling more than $1 million. 

This year also marks Rite Aid’s 23rd year supporting the Children’s Miracle Network. Since becoming a partner in 1994, Rite Aid has raised nearly $81 million — including $6 million in 2016 — for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, making Rite Aid the organization's sixth-largest corporate partner.

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