CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid Corp. has landed a high-profile industry executive to help steer it through a transition phase into a much smaller company.
Last week, former Walgreen Co. pharmacy chief Kermit Crawford joined Rite Aid as president and chief operating officer. Most recently at Walgreens, Crawford was a corporate executive vice president and president of pharmacy, health and wellness. In that role, he handled strategic, operational and financial management for the division.
He retired from Walgreens at the end of 2014 after more than 30 years with the company in a range of store operations and senior management positions, including oversight of pharmacy services, as well as pharmacy benefit management.
“Kermit is a highly experienced retail pharmacy industry executive with exceptional leadership capabilities,” Rite Aid chairman and chief executive officer John Standley said in a statement. “This is an especially important time for Rite Aid as we move forward as a stand-alone company within the retail chain drug and health care industries.”
Currently, Rite Aid operates more than 4,500 drug stores but, after its planned sale of 1,932 stores to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA), will have about 2,600 stores. The $4.375 billion deal, cleared by the Federal Trade Commission, also includes three distribution centers and an option for Rite Aid to become a member of WBA’s group purchasing organization for pharmaceuticals. That option, if exercised, would enable Rite Aid to buy generic drugs at a cost similar to that of Walgreens for a period of 10 years.
Rite Aid’s subsidiaries include pharmacy benefit manager EnvisionRx, retail health clinic operator RediClinic and health coaching and analytics firm Health Dialog, which are expected to play a key role as the company realigns its business in the wake of the failed Walgreens-Rite Aid merger.
Besides bringing deep pharmacy and health care expertise, Crawford bolsters Rite Aid’s management team, which last month saw the departure of president and CEO of stores Ken Martindale, who joined GNC Holdings Inc. as chief executive.
“I am extremely pleased to have such an innovative and well-respected senior executive joining our Rite Aid leadership team as we move forward to successfully drive our business,” Standley added.
Beginning his career at Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1983, Crawford advanced through company ranks, holding positions from pharmacist to store and district manager to vice president of store operations. In 2004, he was named Walgreens Health Services vice president of PBM services and, in 2005, was promoted to executive vice president of PBM services and a corporate vice president for Walgreens.
Crawford was promoted to Walgreens senior vice president and then executive vice president of pharmacy services in 2007 and 2010, respectively. In those positions, he pioneered the effort to transform community pharmacy from a transaction-based practice to one focused on access to affordable, quality care. In September 2010, he was promoted to president of the division. In 2011, his role was broadened to include leadership of all pharmacy, health and wellness services.
After retiring from Walgreens, Crawford joined the University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy, where he served as executive in residence and senior adviser to the dean and was already a member of the USC School of Pharmacy’s board of councilors.
He also served as a retail and health care adviser and consultant for New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners. Crawford, too, is on the board of directors at Allstate and LifePoint Health.