Between Albertsons and Safeway stores, the company has 1,760 pharmacies in 34 states.
Panzer, who had been president and chief executive officer of Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy Inc., replaces Darren Singer, who has left Albertsons.
The appointment reunites Panzer with Bob Miller, who has been named Albertsons’ CEO. The pair worked together at Rite Aid Corp. from 2001 to 2007.
Now they will be working for the company created with the $9.4 billion purchase of Safeway by private equity investors led by Cerberus Capital Management LP, the parent of Albertsons. Cerberus is expected to use the combined scale of Albertsons and Safeway to compete with Walmart — which sells the most groceries in the country — and No. 1 supermarketer Kroger Co.
Albertsons and Safeway have about 2,200 stores, second only to Kroger. With $61 billion in sales, they command about 5.4% of the U.S. grocery market.
The pharmacy count makes the merged entity the No. 7 pharmacy operator by number of prescription counters. It trails only Walgreens, CVS/pharmacy, Walmart, Rite Aid, Health Mart and Kroger.
Panzer’s career began at Osco Drug over 40 years ago. He moved into roles in regional sales and marketing and regional operations for the chain, eventually serving as district manager as well as director and subsequently vice president of sales and marketing with American Drug Stores. Those roles led to his being named senior vice president of sales and marketing at Albertsons following its merger with American Stores in 1999. In 2001, Panzer joined Rite Aid as executive vice president of store operations, and in 2005 was named senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He left in 2008 to become president and CEO of Pharmaca. Last year he took a brief hiatus from Pharmaca to head Kmart pharmacy for Sears Holdings Corp.
“Mark understands and appreciates the entrepreneurial spirit that embodies how we go to market across our divisions, and we’re thrilled that he’s chosen to come back to our team,” said Shane Sampson, chief marketing and merchandising officer for Albertsons. “Early on in his career, Mark was part of the team that helped define what great customer service meant for pharmacy operations in a grocery company.”
For Miller, taking on the CEO role in addition to being Albertsons’ executive chairman gives him the role he sought 25 years ago. His retailing career began as a store associate at Albertsons Inc. in the 1960s and took him up through the managerial ranks until he was appointed executive vice president of operations in 1988. When he was passed over for the CEO position, he embarked on an executive journey that took him to the leadership first of Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer Inc. and then to Rite Aid.
He was named Rite Aid chairman and CEO in December 1999, and over the next three and a half years he led the successful turnaround of what had been a nearly bankrupt company. He continued to serve as chairman of Rite Aid until June 2007 and a director until 2011.