Wellness+ does well and then some, while so-so performance from Wellness stores

Wellness Ambassadors could be an important factor in new store format's success

During the question-and-answer session of Rite Aid’s third-quarter earnings call, president and CEO John Standley responded to a question about the Wellness+ loyalty card program by saying, “We continue to try and evolve and grow the program. We’re obviously learning a lot as we go."

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Considering that Wellness+ predates the Wellness store format, it’s safe to say that the same is true for the new format, which Rite Aid introduced this summer and plans to have expanded to 300 stores by the end of fiscal 2012.

As Standley put it, some of the stores are “way up,” while others aren’t doing so well, and overall, the stores’ performance doesn’t seem to be where management would like it, though the company appears optimistic. While the Wellness stores have many innovative features, new merchandise, new ways of presenting merchandise and a welcoming, open store design, one of the deciding factors in how well they do on an individual basis seems to be the Wellness ambassadors, who could end up being key to the new format’s success in the long term.

By contrast, the Wellness+ loyalty card program has grown in a big way and contributed significantly to the chain’s growth, and true to form, members have proven to be the company’s most loyal customers. Offering new features, such as the new Bronze tier and “wellness rewards,” could help build further loyalty as customers realize incentives to keep going back to Rite Aid stores.

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