The CtW Investment Group calls on Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) to disclose additional information about a key initiative in the long-troubled pharmacy chain’s turnaround plan. In a letter sent today to the corporation’s largest shareholders, the Investment Group raised concerns regarding the strategic benefits of loyalty program Wellness+ and questioned whether management is providing enough information to shareholders about the program’s performance. The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.ctwinvestmentgroup.com/fileadmin/group_files/RAD_Disclosure_Request_CtW_IG_1_.pdf.
“We believe the troubling trends in performance over the first two years of the loyalty program’s existence necessitate more complete disclosure, particularly given that several major goals articulated by management appear not to have been met,” wrote Richard Clayton, Director of Research at the CtW Investment Group, about Wellness+.
Customers use their Wellness+ membership to obtain discounts on sale items in Rite Aid’s stores, and the company has credited the program with contributing to improved earnings. However, the CtW Investment Group notes that sales per Wellness+ member have dropped more than 40% percent since the second quarter of fiscal 2011, the first full quarter of the loyalty program’s existence.
This troubling downward trend is one reason why the CtW Investment Group previously wrote to Rite Aid’s management about its disclosure issues. After receiving no commitment from the company to provide additional information, the Group sent today’s letter to investors outlining the requested disclosures, which include information on the incremental revenue and costs associated with the loyalty program and how the company will address the failure of Wellness+ to attract significant numbers of new pharmacy customers.
The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.ctwinvestmentgroup.com/fileadmin/group_files/RAD_Disclosure_Request_CtW_IG_1_.pdf.
The CtW Investment Group has monitored Rite Aid since its acquisition of Brooks and Eckerd from the Jean Coutu Group in 2007. The Group urged the board to reconsider the deal, which saddled the company with excessive debt. The CtW Investment Group has also engaged the company on the independence of its directors, calling for an overhaul of Rite Aid’s board of directors in letters to the company and shareholders last May and June.