Two of the nation’s largest food and drug retailers, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and Rite Aid, have made key retail appointments.
WBA said yesterday that Richard Ashworth has been promoted to president of Walgreens. The day before, Rite Aid announced that drug and mass retail veteran Andre Persaud has joined the company as executive vice president of retail.
A 28-year Walgreens veteran, Ashworth (left) previously served as president of operations. He has held a variety of leadership posts during his career at the Deerfield, Ill.-based drug chain, overseeing pharmacy, health care commercial, retail and other segments. He also serves as vice chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and is slated to become NACDS chairman in April.
“We are pleased to have Richard lead the Walgreens business, and lead the charge as we create the Walgreens of the future,” WBA Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina said in a statement. “His experience will be incredibly valuable as we continue to accelerate our ongoing transformation to best meet the needs of our customers, communities and team members.”
Ashworth assumes the Walgreens president title from WBA co-chief operating officer Alex Gourlay, who has served as president of Walgreens since 2014. With the change, Gourlay will sharpen his focus on his role as co-COO of Walgreens Boots Alliance. Ashworth reports to Gourlay. Walgreens has nearly 9,300 stores nationwide.
“I would also like to thank Alex for his leadership and dedication through a pivotal time, following the formation of Walgreens Boots Alliance, and most recently into a period of rapid change across pharmacy and retail,” Pessina added. “He will continue in a key, global role as a member of my leadership team, advancing our health and wellness strategy while working closely with Richard.”
Meanwhile, Persaud (left) comes to Rite Aid after most recently serving as an executive consultant to grocery cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. As executive VP of retail operations for the chain’s more than 2,400 locations, he will oversee inventory and supply-chain management, field team management, store operations, asset protection, and facility maintenance and repairs.
“I’m thrilled to join Rite Aid at such a pivotal moment in the company’s history,” Persaud stated. “Customer expectations of retail pharmacies are rapidly changing. They want a more engaged health-and-wellness experience, more relevant, curated merchandise, and a seamless retail experience. I look forward to working with the Rite Aid team to deliver on these expectations.”
Persaud’s 25-plus years of retail experience span grocery, pharmacy, off-price apparel and beauty care, among others. Prior to Wakefern, he served as executive VP retail at Shopko and, before that, as senior VP of store operations for Burlington Stores. His career also includes roles as senior VP of central operations and merchandising for Loblaw Cos. and in various senior operational leadership roles at Shoppers Drug Mart. He began his career as a pharmacist and served in progressive leadership roles to eventually lead drug store operations for Walmart Canada.
“Andre has demonstrated proven success when it comes to leading a transformational retail strategy,” commented Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan. “The company has many exciting growth initiatives planned for 2020 and beyond. With Andre on board, we will move quickly to build on existing Rite Aid customer loyalty and implement a compelling, go-forward retail vision.”