Turnaround efforts spearheaded by returning, co. veterans

Rite Aid’s course has remained steady and true, more or less, from the time Bob Miller first assumed the reigns of a retailer that was to become a case study in how to save a public company from the brink of bankruptcy. And that’s in large part thanks to the senior leadership at Rite Aid, which includes many longtime Rite Aid veterans.

In June, John Standley officially was named CEO, marking the second of Miller’s initial team that had engineered Rite Aid’s turnaround from 2000 through 2004 to assume that role. Meanwhile, Mary Sammons, who served as CEO from 2003 through 2010, remains on the Rite Aid team as chairman, actively representing Rite Aid in industry matters and on Capitol Hill, through June 2012.

Standley already has two turnarounds to his credit: Rite Aid from 2000 through 2004, as the company’s chief administrative officer, senior EVP and CFO; and Pathmark from 2005 through 2007, as that company’s CEO. And if Rite Aid is able to successfully reclaim the swagger once held by the East Coast Eckerd operation the company acquired in 2007, Standley will be a key contributor to what will be his third turnaround team.

“When I asked John to return to Rite Aid, I knew he would move swiftly to improve our company’s operations,” Sammons said in January. “As president and COO, he’s helped us manage through this recession and set in motion initiatives to grow our company for the future. We are in a much stronger financial position today in large part due to his leadership.”

Earlier this year, Sammons was awarded Rite Aid’s President’s Award, the chain’s highest honor, in recognition of her many contributions to Rite Aid. It was an award she created in 2000, and past recipients include Miller.

“I started working with Mary about 12 years ago at Fred Meyer,” Standley noted in introducing the award. “I learned very quickly that she is a great retailer, an accomplished operator and very thorough.… She’s led our company through exciting times—building new stores again, designing our Customer World prototype, acquiring Brooks/Eckerd—as well as through some very difficult times,” he said.

The latest of Rite Aid’s executive announcements involve Ken Martindale, who was promoted from senior EVP merchandising, marketing and logistics to COO in June. Martindale succeeds Standley in that position and has overall responsibility for all store operations, as well as category management, marketing, merchandising and supply chain. Martindale first joined Rite Aid in December 2008, before which he served as co-president, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Pathmark Stores.

Bryan Shirtliff assumed the newly created position of SVP business development in February, prior to which he served as SVP category management. Shirtliff has been charged with developing merchandising initiatives to support the company’s store segmentation strategy, a major initiative currently under way that involves grouping stores with similar characteristics and creating a unique business plan for each group. He also is responsible for developing new business opportunities for the company’s nonpharmacy business and reports to Martindale. Shirtliff is a longtime Rite Aid veteran; he joined the company in 1998.

Tony Montini joined Rite Aid in February as SVP category management, assuming the role from Shirtliff. Montini, a former Rite Aid veteran, came back to the pharmacy chain from the advertising agency Marc USA, where he was EVP and COO.

Robert Thompson, Rite Aid EVP pharmacy, represents another in-house promotion, having been named to his current role in September 2009. Thompson first joined the company in 2004 and played a key role in the integration of the Brooks/Eckerd pharmacies.

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