Rite Aid Names New CMO

Rite Aid has made it official with Jeanniey Walden, naming her senior vice president and chief marketing officer. She has served in that role on an interim basis since March amid broad management turnover at the Philadelphia-based drug chain.

Walden is charged with oversight of enterprise marketing, customer experience and digital, as well as the ongoing expansion of its Thrifty Ice Cream brand.

"As we continue to accelerate our performance through bold strategy, focused execution and experienced leadership, we are pleased to permanently welcome Jeanniey to the Rite Aid team," said Busy Burr, interim chief executive officer of Rite Aid, in the announcement. "As an accomplished marketeer with a customer-centric approach, Jeanniey will lead the charge to strengthen and enhance the ways we conveniently meet our customers' changing needs, helping us further our mission to provide whole health for life."



Burr has been acting CEO since January, stepping in following the departure of Heyward Donigan. The company has struggled with profitability and is currently looking at a projected loss of between $650 and $680 for the full fiscal year.

Since late 2021, the retailer has shuttered 180 locations.

Last week, Seeking Alpha reported that chief digital and technology officer Justin Mennen was also leaving and had entered a separation agreement. And a Rite Aid spokesperson confirms that Jeffrey Lack, the senior vice president of marketing who had been reporting to Walden, has also left the company.

Before joining Rite Aid, Walden was the chief innovation and marketing officer of DailyPay, working with grocery and retail brands like Target, Dollar Tree and Kroger. She's also worked at Barnes & Noble, Mercer, Ogilvy, and JCPenney.

In quarterly results released in late June, the company's revenues fell to $5.7 billion, compared to $6 billion in the comparable period of the prior year. And losses mushroomed to $306.7 million, compared to $110.2 million in the comparable period.

But there were bright spots, which Burr says indicate that its turnaround efforts are gaining traction. Retail pharmacy segment revenues increased by 3.4%, and same-store sales climbed by 8.4%.

"We continue to find opportunities to drive growth, increase efficiency and deliver positive results as we execute," Burr said in a conference call webcast for investors. "We believe that the work we are doing now will continue to benefit the business and our financial performance, not only in fiscal '24 but also in fiscal '25 and '26 and beyond."

Still, the chain faces considerable odds. In a recent retail sector analysis, Moody's named Rite Aid as one of 25 retailers facing an elevated risk of default. "Rite Aid's small scale as a distant fourth largest drugstore player puts it at a disadvantage regarding being part of preferred or restricted insurance networks," Moody's writes. "And its operating performance has lagged larger peers."

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