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“Inspiring Innovation” Sets Tone for 2012 Supplier Conference

inspirationAs hundreds of Rite Aid’s supplier partners gathered for the annual supplier conference in Harrisburg, Pa., on Sept. 11-12, the overriding theme “Inspiring Innovation” was a call to action as the company’s leadership team emphasized the importance of continually evolving to meet the consumers’ needs.

“It is, we believe, a business imperative for our sustained growth and our ability to compete and thrive in the decades to come. Innovation pushes us to evolve — to continue to find better ways to provide healthcare products, services and solutions for our customers and patients,” said Chief Operating Officer Ken Martindale.

Executive Vice President of Merchandising Tony Montini agreed. “Innovation is the key to sustaining meaningful progress,” he said. “We must continue to be collaborative in our thinking — and above all, bring greater innovation with intensified speed to market.”

According to company leaders, innovative thinking has helped Rite Aid strengthen its financial performance and increase adjusted EBITDA. Chairman, President and CEO John Standley told the audience that significant progress has been made in the company’s turn-around efforts.

“We have great sales growth. We have a lot of momentum. We have the best loyalty program in the marketplace and significant improvement in our customer experience over the last few years,” he said. “We’re also making significant investments in our store base and, of course, we are a much healthier company than in years past.”

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Chairman, President and CEO John Standley delivers company update to supplier partners at the 2012 Supplier Conference

Our wellness+ rewards program is a strong contributing factor to this positive momentum. The two-year old rewards program has been extremely successful. It has helped the company better understand customers, leverage member data and build stronger relationships with our most valuable customers.

Senior Vice President of Marketing John Learish told the audience thatwellness+ has created the “new normal” for how shoppers engage with Rite Aid across the entire store. “There’s no question it has positively changed the way our customers shop,” he said. “We’re committed not only to continuous improvement, but also to even greater innovations through wellness+, a differentiator that our competition simply can’t match.”Data collected through wellness+member transactions has allowed us to provide more relevant, timely offers to loyal customers, enhancing their shopping experience. It has increased shopping frequency and created a greater penetration of cross shoppers.

Constant innovation that meets the customers’ needs is at the core of successful programs likewellness+, and strong partnerships with suppliers are paramount to implementing innovations that get products to market faster, more conveniently and more cost-effectively.

Other innovations that were cited as examples of innovative business solutions were the recently launched Load2Card +UP Rewards, making rewards even more convenient and easier to use for customers; enhanced wellness+ rewards at the 500 point level; a broader scope of pharmacy services; a new user-friendly website; enhancements to the company’s mobile application and our new “Genuine Wellbeing” store design.

“Our Wellness stores, including our new Genuine Wellbeing design, are a true example of the power of innovation,” said Martindale. “Whether you’re talking about in-store technology, customer touch points, in-store navigation, or interactive tools, every decision is based on creating a cohesive environment that empowers customers to take more control of their own health and wellness.”

Supplier partners were invited to see the new store design first-hand in Lemoyne, Pa., where the new Genuine Wellbeing format store was unveiled.

Throughout the conference, supplier partners were encouraged to bring their best ideas to the table, to work with their category management team and to continue to change and evolve their business to better serve customers.

“We must continue to explore new relevant ideas, test the best strategies and develop cohesive offerings that will resonate with consumers,” said Martindale.

Montini reiterated that, together, Rite Aid and its supplier partners can develop and leverage innovative solutions that benefit customers. “We’re not shying away from finding new ways of doing business — like leveraging new technologies that are making a tremendous difference in the way we engage, connect and serve our customers,” he said.