NEW YORK — Rumors have been circulating that Walmart may be out to buy Rite Aid, though nothing has been confirmed yet, according to published reports.
Crain’s New York Business reported Sunday that the rumors surfaced because many thought the idea would make sense, considering Walmart’s ambitions to enter the New York market have been dashed by local labor unions, while Rite Aid continues to have issues with debt and store closings. A purchase of Rite Aid, analysts said, would boost Walmart’s sales — which have been in decline lately — and give it a huge presence in the city, where the retail pharmacy chain operates nearly 200 stores.
But in addition to not talking to Crain’s, Rite Aid didn’t comment to Drug Store News about the rumors either because, at least for the time being, that’s just what they are: rumors.
And whatever the future holds, Rite Aid’s moves as of late don’t suggest it’s looking to sell itself. While many — including an analyst quoted in the Crain’s article — have suggested that the chain sell off its West Coast stores, it has consistently refused to do so. It recently converted one West Coast store, in Newport Beach, Calif., to its new Wellness store format, which is part of the chain’s broader effort to pursue organic growth; that effort includes plans to remodel about 500 stores during fiscal year 2012.
While all the Wellness stores except the Newport Beach one are on the East Coast, the fact that it has one in California indicates that it’s looking to improve its West Coast business rather than let go of it.