Montini's promotion will help move Rite Aid in right direction

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Newly promoted Rite Aid EVP merchandising Tony Montini isn’t new to the company, having served brief stints there in the late 1980s and early 2000s. But the retailer’s latest initiatives, and the leading roles that Montini and SVP merchandising Bryan Shirtliff will take in them, are the kinds of things that will let the two really leave their mark on the company — and on the industry.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid appoints new EVP merchandising. For the full story, click here)

Rite Aid has had its share of troubles over the last several years, but it already has seen a rise in same-store sales. And the promotions of Montini and Shirtliff, who will oversee the chain’s customer segmentation initiatives, new store formats and the Wellness+ loyalty program, couldn’t have come at a better time.

It’s safe to call Wellness+ a success, thanks to its growth to 36 million members. Meanwhile, the co-branded Rite Aid/Save-A-Lot stores saw comparable-store growth of 83% in fourth quarter 2011, and the company recently unveiled its Wellness store format, with stores in six markets in western Pennsylvania and the New Jersey coast. As a result, according to the company’s fourth quarter 2011 and fiscal 2011 earnings statement, it expected the situation to improve in 2012, anticipating increased chain-wide and same-store sales and reduced losses.

Should the company prove truly successful in its decade-long bid to restore its former greatness, it is likely that these men and the teams and initiatives they are leading, will be remembered as among the critical heroes who helped usher in a corporate Renaissance in Camp Hill.

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