Lupin 2023

Some relatively easy industry predictions

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The new year has been under way for about a month now, and speculation about the upcoming 12 months already abounds. Not to be left at the starting gate, here’s a look from Chain Drug Review’s headquarters into what just might happen between now and December 31 and what will remain anyone’s guess.

To begin, here are five relatively easy predictions:

  • Who will lead Rite Aid into the first half of the third decade of the 21st century? At first glance … On second thought … Let’s be honest here: No one, including the Rite Aid board members, really knows. As background, the recently departed CEO appeared to be getting along nicely, giving Rite Aid a new look and some new directions. But that could be accurately said of her predecessor — and those who preceded her predecessor. Who’s next, in a job that appears to elude everyone who gives it a try? Perhaps it’s time to select someone, preferably someone with a chain drug resume, who has already led a successful drug chain. Who might that be? Who knows? This much is certain: Rite Aid is running out of time and choices. The next one had better be the right one.
  • How is NACDS faring under its new chairman? By all accounts, Brian Nightengale came to this assignment with a strong background and an equally strong resume. The feeling here, in light of this resume, is that the association will thrive under his leadership. Moreover, the editorial staff of Chain Drug Review is solidly behind him. Moreover, it is an apt time for a successful regional chain executive to lead this organization. Finally, the overwhelming belief is that NACDS will be stronger for his tenure than it had been before it. Which is saying quite a bit.
  • How will NACDS change going forward? The answer: It will change as quickly, and as radically, as it has changed during the past decade. Think back to the early 2010s. Who would have believed that grocery retailers would have so quickly assumed leadership roles in what had always been a chain drug organization. Or that key grocery executives — Colleen Lindholz, Martin Otto and Randy Edeker (among others) come readily to mind — would lead the association (and lead it admirably) in the recent past. That said, the feeling here is that (1) NACDS has benefitted from supermarket industry involvement and leadership, and (2) the involvement and leadership will only grow in the years ahead — to NACDS’ benefit.
  • And what of the chain drug industry going forward? The answer is easy: change, change, change. As background, the term chain drug store is rapidly becoming an anachronism. Is Walgreens still a drug chain? Is CVS? Is Rite Aid? Not really. America’s emerging chain drug retailing community consists today of those chain drug retailers recently referred to as “small” chains or “regional” chains. No longer. Today, they have emerged as the industry’s backbone, the retailers to watch first when the words chain drug retailers are used. Going forward, their future and the future of the chain drug industry will be, for the better, inextricably linked. Anyone doubting that need only travel the U.S.A. to discover just where chain drug shoppers shop first.

Well, that’s it. Did we say “five” relatively easy predictions? We were off by one. But stay tuned and you’ll witness the first change for yourself. We promise.


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