Board Removes Rite Aid CEO

Drug store chain appoints Elizabeth 'Busy' Burr in interim position as Heyward Donigan departs
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
Marian Zboraj
Busy Burr Rite Aid
Elizabeth "Busy" Burr

Rite Aid Corp.’s board of directors has appointed Elizabeth “Busy” Burr, a member of the company’s board, as interim CEO, effective immediately. Burr’s appointment follows Heyward Donigan’s departure from the company as president and CEO, and also as a member of the board. Rite Aid has initiated a search to identify a permanent CEO and has retained an executive search firm.

Bruce Bodaken, Rite Aid Chairman, said: “As the company continues its efforts to enhance its competitive position in this dynamic environment, the board determined and Heyward agreed that now is the right time to identify the next leader of the business. With a deep understanding of the industry and our strategy, the board was unanimous in its belief that Busy is highly qualified to serve as interim CEO while the board conducts a search for a permanent successor. We are fortunate to have someone of her caliber to step into the role and are confident in Busy’s ability to lead the company forward during this transition period.

“On behalf of the entire board, I want to thank Heyward for her contributions and service to Rite Aid, particularly her efforts in helping to lead Rite Aid throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” continued Bodaken. “We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Donigan said: “It has been a privilege to lead Rite Aid and its exceptional team. I am proud of all that we have achieved together, and I believe that the company is well positioned for the future.” She has been president and CEO of Rite Aid since August 2019.

Meanwhile, Burr has extensive experience in the health industry. She was previously VP, head of health ventures and chief innovation officer at Humana, a $70 billion for-profit U.S. health insurance company, where she was responsible for driving the design, build and adoption of new product platforms in digital health, provider experience and telemedicine. Most recently, at Carrot Inc., Burr was president and chief commercial officer, leading the team focused on bringing the company’s digital health solutions to market. Burr was previously managing director of Citi Ventures and global head of business incubation of Citigroup Inc., as well as entrepreneur-in-residence at eBay Inc. She has also held various senior leadership roles at Credit Suisse Group AG (formerly Credit Suisse First Boston) and Gap Inc., where she was VP of global brand management. Burr holds an MBA from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College in Massachusetts.

Burr said: “Having served as a director since 2019, I have great respect for the important role Rite Aid plays as a full-service pharmacy improving health outcomes for millions of Americans. I will work with the board and management team to realize our vast potential while supporting our thousands of pharmacists and team members who are focused every day on meeting the needs of our communities and customers. With Rite Aid’s well-established brand and its committed and talented team, I look forward to delivering on our business strategy and driving value for all our stakeholders.”

Rite Aid reaffirms its fiscal year 2023 guidance, which was lowered amid the release of its recent third-quarter earnings. Total revenues are expected to be between $23.7 billion and $24.0 billion, net loss between $584 million and $551 million, adjusted EBITDA between $410 million and $440 million and capital expenditures of approximately $225 million.

Also during its Q3 report, Rite Aid said it is kicking off a performance acceleration program to allow it to fast-track initiatives that will improve sales, script volume and operating margins, and free up cash.

Rite Aid recently opened two small-format Rite Aid Pharmacy locations, in Craigsville, Va., and Greenville, Va., as part of a pilot program to improve access for pharmacy services in “pharmacy deserts” and underserved communities.

The drug store chain continues to expect to generate positive free cash flow in fiscal 2023.

Philadelphia-based Rite Aid operates 2,300-plus retail pharmacy locations across 17 states. The company is No. 21 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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