Because Rite Aid’s 700-member corporate staff still works remotely in the Camp Hill area due to the pandemic, the Philadelphia headquarters has been designed for employee collaborations and a “remote-first work approach.”
Heyward Donigan, Rite Aid’s chief executive officer, said Tuesday that she had thought about remote working before the pandemic and “this announcement signals the start of a bright new day at Rite Aid. We’re changing our business from the inside out.”
Donigan said that she was a remote-working CEO and has “never lived in Camp Hill,” which is just outside Harrisburg. With the new headquarters, “we did not want to make people relocate to a traditional office,” she said. Rite Aid chose Philadelphia because of its access to transportation and other amenities, and it allowed the drugstore chain to stay headquartered in Pennsylvania.
As for staffing at the Navy Yard, Donigan said that “we are not planning any full-time receptionist or associates there.” A spokesperson said that the company expects no job losses among the corporate staffers in the Camp Hill area and that it’s hiring.
Rite Aid’s Philadelphia Enterprise Headquarters and Collaboration Center is expected to open in the first six months of next year on the leased second floor of the Bjarke Ingels Group-designed inward-leaning building at the Navy Yard.
Rite Aid will be located among corporations that opened offices over the years in the Navy Yard, such as Urban Outfitters and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.
Also, Ensemble Real Estate Investments and Mosaic Development Partners are pursuing a $2.6 billion project at the Navy Yard, committing $1 billion of that money to hiring workers and contractors from underrepresented groups and taking other diversity measures over the next two decades.
Mark Seltzer, senior vice president of the Ensemble Real Estate Investments, which owns the Bjarke Ingels Group-designed building, said that office space at the Navy Yard has been a hot commodity during the pandemic because of its low-rise buildings that allow people to walk up stairs instead of taking elevators, outdoor areas, and parking.
In addition to its Philadelphia headquarters, Rite Aid plans “regional collaboration centers” across the country, including in central Pennsylvania, so employees can meet for training and development and networking, the company said.
Rite Aid filled 164 million prescriptions and served more than one million customers a day, according to its regulatory filings for the full year ending in February. The company employs 50,000 workers and operates 2,510 retail drugstores, with 517 stores in Pennsylvania. The only state with more Rite Aid drugstores is California, with 534.
Rite Aid had revenues of $24 billion and losses of $100 million for the year ending Feb. 27.
The chain faces lots of pressures, including high debt, disappointing sales, and competitors such as Walgreens and CVS that are much larger. But executives said their first-quarter numbers showed improvement. The stock closed at $17.17 on Tuesday, and is nearly unchanged year-to-date.
The company said an internal survey showed that most Rite Aid corporate associates who have been working remotely since early in the COVID-19 pandemic prefer working from home but also want opportunities to meet, collaborate and learn together in person.