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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Bob Miller, the chairman of Rite Aid, was presented with the Roger Ahlbrandt Award last evening at Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center Executive Forum Awards Dinner, recognizing lifetime achievement in the food industry and a commitment to leadership, education, and community.

In the evening’s keynote address, Miller noted that years ago when he started working at Albertsons, he was advised by Warren McCain, the former chairman and CEO of the company, that “in order to be really good, you have to be really good at one or two things, better than anyone else at one or two things.” It was, he said, good advice that has allowed him and his management team to engineer a turnaround at Rite Aid, where the company and its finances were in disarray because of fraud and an accounting scandal perpetrated by former executives of the company.

This turnaround has reached the point, Miller said, that Rite Aid can finally start to think about growth – and plans to open 30 new stores this year and 100 next year. “This is a great sector,” he joked. “All you guys are getting older and are going to need drugs…”

Miller also suggested to the audience that in the food industry, the time has come to get away from the idea that money should be made through the buying process, and get back to making money by selling product. And, he said, the emphasis should be put on perishables. In center store, “everybody sells that stuff,” he said. “Quality perishables…that’s what sets you apart.” He also urged retailers to stay focused on their core business, and not allow themselves to be sidetracked into corollary business that could drain their attention and finances.
KC's View:
Amen.