Rite Aid Moves HQ Under Cover of Press Release
Rite Aid Corp., one of the biggest U.S. drugstore chains, said Tuesday it’s relocating its headquarters east to Philadelphia from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area. Oddly, the press release mentioned everything but the move — risking the ire of the company’s current community. Yet, it appears little to no damage was done.
A corporate relocation is a delicate thing to announce; your employees and neighbors may view it as a bitter pill. Those concerns should be taken into consideration. The COVID-19 pandemic adds to the strangeness of putting out such news now. Rite Aid’s press release focused on the fact that its corporate employees will continue to work mostly from home because — in what may become a trend — the company is switching to a “remote-first approach.”
The release’s headline — “Rite Aid Brings Together Corporate Workforce Through Remote-First Collaboration” — makes clear the company doesn’t want the move to be the news. Most of its 2,800 corporate staff members (half of whom are in the Harrisburg area) will toil outside the office. An internal study found “the vast majority” of its employees prefer working from home, which they’ve been doing since the beginning of the pandemic, Rite Aid said.
The company is calling its new Philly base its “enterprise headquarters.” It will maintain “collaboration centers” elsewhere, including in central Pennsylvania, for people to come together when needed.
“We’re changing our business from the inside out, and our reimagined workplace is the latest exciting step toward the future of this company,” the statement quoted Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan.
We’re changing our business from the inside out, and our reimagined workplace is the latest exciting step toward the future of this company.
— Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan
Still, you would think the company, whose origins go back to 1962, would at least mention in its press release that its HQ will no longer be near Harrisburg, the state capital. It’s nice to accentuate the positive, but the statement’s absence of information raised some questions.
The Patriot-News, the Harrisburg newspaper, tried to get some answers. It interviewed Rite Aid Vice President of Corporate Communications Jeff Olson, who said the change would entail no layoffs and in fact the company is hiring. Olson confirmed the company would maintain a presence in the central part of the state.
The Patriot-News reporting has been pretty subdued. Yet a second-day story yesterday emphasized Rite Aid’s important role in employment, taxes and philanthropy in the area. Headline: “Rite Aid’s Central Pa. Headquarters ‘Helped Define the Region’s Identity’ for Decades. Now It’s Moving to Philly.” The announcement “shocked the region’s business and philanthropic communities,” according to the newspaper.
But we haven’t seen much in the way of major complaints. It appears the side effects have been milder than one would have expected.
Photo Credit: Rite Aid
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