Wellness makes it all 'Rite'

Updated Wellness store format, new features show progress at Rite Aid

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — What should be clear by now is that Rite Aid is making a big comeback, and along the way, it's also carving out an important niche for itself.

(THE NEWS: Rite Aid opens 'next generation' Wellness store, reports September sales. For the full story, click here.)

"Wellness" has been an overarching theme of Rite Aid's marketing, from its Wellness stores to its Wellness+ loyalty card program. But it's more than just a word — it also is the guiding force for what goes on inside the store.

The longstanding GNC store-within-a-store sections featured at many Rite Aid locations, the Wellness Ambassadors and new features, such as the Diabetes Diagnostic Center and a pharmacy designed to be more "open and inviting" exemplify Rite Aid's efforts to tie the four corners of its stores together and position them as destinations for wellness. And updating the still-new Wellness format shows a commitment to staying at the front lines.

That kind of differentiation will be important as Rite Aid seeks to generate growth, which it lately has done quite effectively, reporting increased pharmacy traffic and comps that beat analysts' expectations in its September sales results.

According to the company's second-quarter 2013 earnings call with Wall Street analysts on Sept. 20, the chain plans to have 780 Wellness stores by the end of fiscal year 2013 and already has trained 815 Wellness Ambassadors. While that's still a fraction of the more than 4,600 stores in the chain, and such external factors as the aftermath of the Walgreens-Express Scripts dispute and the generic wave will continue to play important roles, it represents a significant part of a concerted effort to grow sales that, so far, is working.

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