Rite Aid Corp. on Monday announced that Heyward Donigan has been appointed chief executive officer and a member of the board, effective immediately. John Standley will step down from the CEO role, according to a company press release.
Donigan has 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, most recently as president and CEO of Sapphire Digital (formerly Vitals), which develops platforms to help consumers choose healthcare providers, the company said. She also served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Premera Blue Cross, and, earlier in her career, was senior vice president of operations at Cigna Healthcare. She's also held executive roles at General Electric, Empire BCBS and U.S. Healthcare.
Rite Aid, which has struggled since a planned merger with Walgreens fell through on antitrust concerns two years ago, in May regained listing compliance with the New York Stock Exchange after a reverse stock split.
With this move, Rite Aid joins rivals CVS and Walgreens in emphasizing its healthcare offer over its retail.
Drugstores have moved to take advantage of the turmoil in the healthcare sector, which continues to grapple with rising costs and regulatory uncertainty. Major players in the sector have positioned themselves as providing alternatives for medical screenings, vaccinations and monitoring of chronic disease like diabetes.
Last month, Rite Aid launched RediClinic "Express," building on its partnership with telehealth company InTouch Health, to connect patients to clinicians via "RediClinic Express kiosks" in Rite Aid stores.
As pharmacy retailers, the pivot makes sense, for both the companies and their customers. But in the process in all cases, their front-of-store retail operations have notably suffered. Some analysts, including GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders, have said they're missing an opportunity to bring in shoppers, even for those healthcare operations, by neglecting their stores and failing to take advantage of one of their traditional retail strengths, beauty.
In June, Rite Aid reported that first quarter revenues from continuing operations dropped year over year to $5.37 billion from $5.39 billion in the prior year's quarter, as front-end comps, excluding tobacco products, rose 0.3%. Net loss from continuing operations widened to $99.3 million from $41.7 million in the year-ago quarter.
Donigan was chosen after months of searching, Rite Aid Board Chairman Bruce Bodaken said in a statement. "Heyward's strong senior executive experience, proven leadership capabilities and consistent track record of driving profitable growth, as well as her broad healthcare knowledge and digital shopping technology expertise set her apart," he said. "Her skillset will be invaluable as we work to deliver on the full potential of our business and create additional long-term value for our shareholders, associates, customers and patients."