Employees Turn Rite Aid Around

Sep 02, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Mary Sammons, chief executive officer and president, Rite Aid credits the drug store chain’s 73,000 employees for getting the company turned around in spite of the difficult times it has faced in the past, according to Knight Ridder.

‘In the end, it’s the people who are going to make you successful,’ said Sammons. ‘I think that’s why our company has been able to achieve a turnaround under very adverse circumstances. . . People get you to the cause of problems, not just reports and numbers.’

Three and a half years ago, Ms. Sammons joined Rite Aid chairman Bob Miller, in taking on the formidable task of fixing a business Martin Grass and others mismanaged almost to the point of closing its doors.

Difficult decisions had to be made and Ms. Sammons and Mr. Miller’s first acts were more tough love than warm and fuzzy. Rite Aid was forced to close stores and layoff thousands to remain viable.

Those who were left had a formidable task ahead of them and by most accounts, they have responded. Rite Aid expects to be profitable next year.

‘We have very committed people. They care. They’ll work the extra hours. They know we’ll listen. That wasn’t something that had happened under the old regime.’

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the
Rite Aid turnaround?

Rite Aid is turning to its employees as it tries to gain
a competitive advantage by improving customer service, an area where even the
best in the industry ‘don’t get very high marks from customers,’ according
to Ms. Sammons.
Anderson – Moderator

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