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Rite Aid announces senior management changes across category management

BY Michael Johnsen

Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid on Friday named Bill Renz senior vice president category management, from his current role as group vice president of consumables and photo, in the wake of retirement announcements from Tony Montini, executive vice president of merchandising and distribution, and Bill Bergin, group vice president of health and beauty.

“Bill has worked in nearly every category of the retail drugstore industry and has a tremendous ability to identify front-end items and product assortments that truly resonate with our valued customers,” stated Bryan Everett, COO Rite Aid stores. “Leveraging his extensive experience and deep knowledge of our business, we will continue to transform our front-end offering and deliver an outstanding Rite Aid experience.”

Other changes include Ted Williams, Rite Aid’s current vice president of general merchandise and seasonal, has been named group vice president of consumables, general merchandise and seasonal. Bryan Shirtliff, who currently leads the company’s merchandising efforts, has been named group vice president of health and beauty. And Nate Newcomer, Rite Aid’s current vice president of category management support and front-end analysis, has been named group vice president of category management administration, financial analysis and replenishment.

Williams, Shirtliff and Newcomer all will report to Renz.

“These changes position Rite Aid for the future and support our efforts to deliver an outstanding experience in our stores,” said Everett. “Ted, Bryan and Nate have played a key role in the success of our company and we look forward to benefitting from their expertise and knowledge in their new roles as we work to continue meeting the health and wellness needs of our customers and patients.”

Renz joined Rite Aid in 1998 as director of general merchandise and photo. He was promoted to vice president of general merchandise in 2000 and named to his current role in 2014. Before joining Rite Aid, Renz held various category management positions at Gray Drug-Fair, Sherwin Williams, Circuit City and Office Max. He will report to Everett.

With the changes, two of the architects who have helped shape Rite Aid’s cutting-edge store format have announced their retirement. Montini has served in his current role since 2011, after returning to the company in 2010 as senior vice president of category management. He also served as senior vice president of category management from 2002 through 2003 and as vice president of purchasing from 1987 through 1989.

Bergin joined Rite Aid in 1999 and was named to his current role in 2009.

“Tony has built a strong culture of speed, innovation and collaboration across his team that has driven positive results. Bill has also played a key role in the success of our company, both through his strong leadership and successful merchandising innovations that make many of our key health and beauty categories much easier to shop,” Everett said. “We appreciate Tony and Bill’s many outstanding contributions to Rite Aid over their nearly 30 years of combined service, and wish them well with their future plans.”

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Walmart’s digital business booms in Q3

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is heading into the crucial holiday season on fire, with the chain posting a 50% increase in online sales in its third quarter and topping the Street’s profit, revenue and comp sales estimates.

The retail giant’s total revenue rose 4.2% to $123.18 billion in the quarter, versus estimates of $121 billion. Net sales at Walmart’s U.S. operations totaled $77.724 billion, up from $74.550 billion in the prior-year period. Net sales at Walmart International rose 4.1% to $29.5 billion, with 10 of its 11 eleven markets posting positive comp sales.

Same-store sales for U.S. stores, excluding fuel, rose 2.7%, compared with an anticipated increase of 1.8%. It was Walmart’s 13th consecutive quarterly increase. Comp traffic was up 1.5%.

Walmart reported net income of $1.75 billion, or 58 cents a share, which included a $283 million charge to account for a likely fine related to an ongoing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation investigation. Excluding that charge and other one-time costs, Walmart earned $1 a share, topping Wall Street estimates of 97 cents per share.

Industry experts said that Walmart’s strong quarterly performance show that its heavy investments in digital and store enhancements, along with heavy discounting, are paying off.

“Today’s results show that Walmart is a retailer on the front foot,” commented Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “Admittedly, the investments it is making in price and e-commerce are taking their toll on the bottom line, but they are also positioning the company for significant future success.”

Walmart raised its full-year earnings expectations as it heads into the holiday season. It now forecasts adjusted earnings per share ranging from $4.38 to $4.46 in fiscal 2018. It previously expected earning $4.30 to $4.40 a share.

“We have momentum and it’s encouraging to see customers responding to our store and e-commerce initiatives,” stated Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “Existing customers have become advocates for popular initiatives like online grocery and free two-day shipping, and as a result, new customers, suppliers and partnerships are coming to Walmart.”

Last week, Walmart announced a partnership with Lord & Taylor, that will see Walmart launch an online “flagship store” on Walmart.com that will offer premium fashion brands directly from the department store retailer. The discounter is also is building relationships with premium brands, including Bose and KitchenAid.

“Walmart’s longer-term aim is clear: It wants to become the go-to online destination for both every day and specialty items,” said Saunders. “The push into higher-end products should also help to bolster online margins.”

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Fox News’ Carlson to speak at NACDS Foundation Dinner

BY David Salazar

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Dinner will feature Gretchen Carlson — host of Fox News’ “The Real Story” — as the event’s speaker. Carlson replaces “Saturday Night Live” head writer Colin Jost, who could no longer appear due to unforeseen circumstances, according to the Arlington, Va.-based trade group.

“We are thrilled to present to NACDS Foundation supporters a true professional who is on the leading edge of journalism,” NACDS Foundation President Kathleen Jaeger said. “While Gretchen Carlson is widely recognized and respected for her remarkable journalism career, her leadership in children’s health issues also will be of particular interest and appreciation for the NACDS Foundation family. She serves as a National Trustee for the March of Dimes, with which the NACDS Foundation has worked closely on issues including Zika awareness and prevention. Also, this year she created the Gift of Courage Fund to empower young girls by helping them build self-esteem and confidence.”

Carlson has been named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2017, and has hosted her Fox News show for seven years. She got her start as a political reporter, then anchor and reporter in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dallas. She joined CBS in 2000 as a co-host of the “Saturday Early Show.” She released her second book, “Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back,” in October and she is a member of the board of directors for the Catherin Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, Conn., NACDS said.

“Gretchen Carlson will contribute tremendous energy, passion and insights to our evening and we look forward to welcoming her,” Jaeger said.

The event also will see the NACDS Foundation awards its highest honor on Texas physician Umair Shah, who is the executive director and local health authority for the Harris County (Texas) Public Health organization and president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He will receive the foundation’s 2017 Excellence in Patient Care Award.

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