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Tapping food veteran to head effort, Walgreens moves into fresh food arena

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Moving quickly on its plan to expand food offerings and build per-customer transaction rates in its stores, Walgreens confirmed it has hired veteran food merchant Jim Jensen to fill a new post as divisional merchandise manager in charge of fresh foods.

Jensen last served as director of fresh foods for Fresh and Easy Markets, the U.S subsidiary of fast-growing U.K. retailer Tesco. At Walgreens, he’ll head up the chain’s rapid expansion into prepared and fresh foods as an additional convenience offering for time-strapped customers.

“We already have some fresh foods, like milk and eggs, but we’re looking for an opportunity to put more of these types of things into our stores,” explained company spokesperson Tiffani Washington. “We’re looking to capture that on-the-go consumer looking for a quick, convenient lunch…and we’re also responding to the fact that 80% of Americans don’t know what they’re going to have for dinner at 4 p.m.”

Among the food items Walgreens will offer in many of its stores, said a company source, are “grab-and-go meals, salads, sandwiches and the like.” Jensen will also head up a probable move by the company into its own private-label brand of food items, including what Washington calls “meal components.”

Walgreens has already been in negotiations with major food suppliers like Nestle SA, Sara Lee Corp. and Unilever, to extend its front-end offerings.

“We look at this as another way to leverage our convenient, corner locations,” Washington told Drug Store News.

Jensen will report to Walgreens’ GMM for consumables Steve Broughton. He joins the 7,149-store chain with more than 17 years of fresh food experience, including a 14-year stint with 7-Eleven Inc.’s Fresh Foods Division.

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Walgreens raises more than $1 million for Haiti

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Just days into offering customers the option to make donations to Haiti disaster relief efforts at its registers, Walgreens stores across the country have collected more than $1 million.

Contributions are helping the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund send much needed assistance and aid to those affected by last week’s earthquake.

Walgreens stores will continue taking customer donations through the end of the month, the drug store chain said.

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Standley to assume president, CEO roles at Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday announced that John Standley will be promoted to the position of president and CEO effective June 24 at the company’s annual stockholder meeting. Mary Sammons, currently Rite Aid chairman and CEO, will continue as chairman.

Standley’s promotion is part of the company’s executive succession plan and was approved Thursday at a regularly scheduled meeting of Rite Aid’s board of directors. Sammons, 63, will remain Rite Aid chairman until the company’s annual meeting in June 2012. Sammons said she intends to be an active chairman, continuing to represent the company in industry and government affairs as well as assist as needed with strategic initiatives.

Standley, 46, returned to Rite Aid in September 2008 as president and COO after leaving in August 2005 to become CEO and board director of Pathmark Stores, where he was credited for engineering a second turnaround, the first being Rite Aid during his first tour there. He originally joined Rite Aid in December 1999 as EVP and CFO, part of a new executive management team that also included Sammons. He has served as a member of the Rite Aid board since June 2009.

“When I asked [Standley] to return to Rite Aid, I knew he would move swiftly to improve our company’s operations,” Sammons said. “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. His many accomplishments in such a short time as president and COO and his previous successful track record at our company demonstrate his ability to guide Rite Aid as its next CEO.”

“It’s a privilege to work with [Sammons] and the 99,000 talented and dedicated Rite Aid associates to build on the considerable progress we’ve made in the past year,” Standley said. “While we still have a lot of hard work ahead, I’m confident in the strategies we’ve identified to improve our performance and look forward to leading the company as we continue to implement initiatives to grow profitable sales, further improve our cost structure and reduce debt.”

From 2005 until 2007, Standley engineered and led a successful turnaround at Pathmark, a $4 billion regional supermarket chain with a strong pharmacy business that was sold to A&P. At Rite Aid between 1999 and 2005, he served as chief administrative officer, senior EVP and CFO, where he was a key part of the team that helped realize Rite Aid’s first turnaround. Prior to Rite Aid, he served in key executive financial positions at various retail and grocery companies including Fleming, Fred Meyer, Ralph’s Grocery and Smith Food & Drug Centers. He is a member of the board of governors of the Children’s Miracle Network.

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