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Rite Aid founder succumbs to cancer

BY Michael Johnsen

HARRISBURG, Pa.

Rite Aid founder Alex Grass passed away Thursday night after a 10-year battle with lung cancer, The Patriot News reported online Thursday night.

Grass opened his first drug store in 1962, under the moniker Thrif D Discount Center, in coal-mining town Scranton, Pa, where Grass was born. First year sales totaled $750,000. That 1,700-square-foot health and beauty aids store marked the beginning of the drug chain that would be renamed Rite Aid in 1968, the year of the company’s first public stock offering. Rite Aid offered 350,000 shares at $25 per share then, fielding 22 locations in central Pennsylvania.

Grass retired from the day-to-day operations of Rite Aid in 1995, ceding the chairmanship of Rite Aid to his son Martin Grass. He exited the Rite Aid board in 2001.

He was named to Drug Store News’ REX (Retail EXcellence awards) Retailer Hall of Honors in recognition of his lifetime achievements in the druggist industry in 1996.

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Safeway adds two to board of directors

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway on Monday named Arun Sarin and Michael Shannon to the company’s board of directors. The company’s board of directors will expand from 10 to 12 members with these new appointments, the company stated.

“We are fortunate to have individuals with these credentials joining the board,” stated Safeway chairman, president and CEO Steve Burd. “[Sarin] and [Shannon] have each run substantial businesses, and their experience will be valuable to our board.”

Sarin has worked in the telecommunications industry for the majority of his career. Most recently, he was the CEO of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest mobile phone companies by revenue. Sarin has served on numerous boards including Gap, Charles Schwab and Cisco Systems. He recently retired from being a non-executive director of the Court of the Bank of England.

Shannon founded KSL Capital Partners in 2004 and its predecessor, KSL Recreation Corporation, in 1992, serving as its president and CEO. KSL Capital Partners is a U.S. private equity firm dedicated to investments in travel and leisure businesses. Shannon also founded and became CEO of KSL Resorts in 2004, following the sale of KSL Recreation. During his tenure as CEO, KSL Recreation grew to become one of the largest independent owners and operators of resorts. From 1986 to 1992, Shannon served as president and CEO of Vail Associates, owner of the Vail and Beaver Creek resorts in Colorado. He currently serves on the board of ING Direct, the Vail Valley Foundation, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association and Eisenhower Memorial Hospital.

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IRI discusses health care during recession in new report

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Information Resources Inc. on Thursday released a report, “The Changing Landscape of Healthcare and the American Consumer,” outlining the forward impact the current recession will have on how Americans research, purchase and use health care.

“Health care is costly, and people are rethinking how they take care of themselves in order to conserve funds,” Thom Blischok, president, consulting and innovation, IRI, wrote in the opening of the report. “Instead of sticking with their tried-and-true healthcare options, consumers are aggressively seeking affordable solutions for health and wellness, both in terms of how they obtain care and in the healthcare products they choose.”

And while Americans are changing how they choose health care, the Food and Drug Administration is “flexing its regulatory muscles again.” And while the new FDA activism is expected to make medicines and supplements safer, it also has the potential to add significant costs overall — including added costs in drug development as well as added costs to keep those medicines already approved on store or pharmacy shelves.

The study is available as a free PDF download at http://us.infores.com/Insights/Publications/IRIPointofView/tabid/197/ctl/Details/mid/923/ItemID/900/Default.aspx.

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