Rite Aid Corp.’s “wellness store” concept has reached a milestone. The drug chain said it has converted almost 100 stores in the greater Buffalo, N.Y., area to the wellness format, making that market the first to have the concept for most of its stores.


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Rite Aid's wellness format covers Buffalo market

May 20th, 2013

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – Rite Aid Corp.’s “wellness store” concept has reached a milestone. The drug chain said it has converted almost 100 stores in the greater Buffalo, N.Y., area to the wellness format, making that market the first to have the concept for most of its stores.

“On a percentage basis, it’s the biggest concentration of wellness stores,” chairman, president and chief executive officer John Standley said in an event held at the wellness store here this month to mark the occasion. “Buffalo has been a great market for us. We have very strong market share here; we’re No. 1 in the marketplace. The community also has been great to us, and we wanted to invest back into the community. So it made sense to start here.”

Chief operating officer Ken Martindale said at the event that 70 of Rite Aid’s 78 stores in the smaller Buffalo metropolitan statistical area have been remodeled to the wellness format. “By the end of the year we’ll have 74 to 78 of the stores completed,” he said.

Other markets with concentrations of wellness stores include Los Angeles, New York and Boston, Standley said.

As of Rite Aid’s 2013 fiscal year-end in early March, 797 of the retailer’s 4,623 drug stores were wellness stores. Plans call for another 400 stores to be remodeled to the format in fiscal 2014. “We’re putting wellness stores in all markets across the country now,” Martindale said.

In terms of sales, wellness stores have outperformed Rite Aid’s other stores. “We’re seeing about 3% over the chain average, and that’s in the front end,” Standley said.

The gain in the pharmacy has been smaller so far, but the wellness format’s expanded health care offering — including immunizations, clinical services and medication reviews — and enhanced pharmacy format, with such features as private consultation rooms, should boost prescription business, he noted.

“I expect that over the long run it will have an impact on script count growth,” Standley said.

Rite Aid introduced the wellness store in several markets in early 2011. Besides expanded pharmacy services, the format features a wide selection of wellness products and resources, an enhanced store layout and merchandising, and customer product guidance from “wellness ambassadors,” who bridge the front end and pharmacy.

A second version of the concept, dubbed the “genuine well-being store,” was unveiled last October and brought a new color palette and signage, improved store navigation, and more merchandising enhancements.

The wellness concept is “constantly evolving,” Martindale said. “A lot of new things are coming, and we’ll keep changing as we go. We have to keep meeting the changing needs of the customer.”

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