CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid Corp.’s appointment of chain drug retailing veteran Kermit Crawford as president and chief operating officer has moved it beyond the shadow of its aborted acquisition by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA), say industry analysts.
Crawford — who during a three-decade career at Walgreens rose to become executive vice president and president of pharmacy, health and wellness before retiring at the end of 2014 — strengthens Rite Aid’s capabilities in its core health care business. That business encompasses the stores it will be left with under the revised deal with WBA, pharmacy benefits manager EnvisionRx, RediClinic walk-in clinics, and population health management services provider Health Dialog.
Crawford’s tenure and know-how are expected to be major assets for the company at a time when prescription drug reimbursements continue to be tightened and pharmacies are being asked to take on a more prominent health care role.
“Kermit is a highly experienced retail pharmacy industry executive with exceptional leadership capabilities,” said Rite Aid chairman and chief executive officer John Standley. “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.”
Rite Aid operates more than 4,500 drug stores, but after its planned sale of 1,932 outlets to WBA it will be left with about 2,600. The $4.375 billion deal, cleared by the Federal Trade Commission, 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 10 years.
Besides bringing deep pharmacy and health care expertise, Crawford bolsters Rite Aid’s management team, which earlier 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.
Crawford began his career at Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1983. Advancing to senior vice president and then executive vice president of pharmacy services in 2007 and 2010, respectively, 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 in Los Angeles, where he served as executive in residence and senior adviser to the dean.