Erik Keptner is leaving his post as senior VP-marketing at Wakefern Food Corp. to become senior VP- chief marketing and merchandising officer of Rite Aid Corp. effective June 24, 2019.

In this newly created position, Keptner will be responsible for all aspects of marketing and merchandising for the struggling Camp Hill, PA drug chain. He will report to Bryan Everett, Rite Aid’s chief operating officer.

“Erik is an experienced retail executive who has proven that he can integrate and manage all aspects of an organization’s marketing and merchandising assets to provide great customer experiences, operate efficiently and deliver growth,” said Everett. “We’re excited to welcome Erik to our team as we continue to integrate our marketing and merchandising teams and enhance our omni-channel presence to deliver a seamlessly connected customer experience that drives growth. We will benefit tremendously from his knowledge and expertise as we accelerate these critical efforts.”

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A native of Central PA, Keptner returns home to oversee both marketing and merchandising for Rite Aid, which has been challenged by both management and earnings issues for the past several years, especially since the Federal Trade Commission blocked the company’s effort to wholly merge with rival Walgreens in June 2017.

Among the issues that Rite Aid still faces is finding a new CEO to replace veteran chief executive John Standley who will be exiting shortly. Along with the need to find a new CEO, Rite Aid also eliminated 400 key jobs as part of a major restructuring initiative. The Camp Hill drug merchant is also still reeling from another failed merger attempt with Albertsons last August and a deteriorating stock price which fell to under $1 per share earlier this year and was facing delistment from the New York Stock Exchange. A reverse 1-for-20 stock split enabled the company to increase its share price.

Keptner joined Wakefern last July in what trade observers believed was the first key move made by executive VP Chris Lane, who is believed to be in line to become president of the Keasbey, NJ co-op when Joe Sheridan, Wakefern’s current president and COO, ultimately retires.

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Prior to that, Keptner had a 20-year career with Ahold Delhaize and its Giant/Martin’s division. There, he served in various roles of increasing responsibility including executive VP-marketing and senior VP-sales, marketing and merchandising. While in these roles, Keptner led efforts to enhance the company’s loyalty program, accelerate digital marketing and e-commerce, evolve store formats and merchandising programs, and create a culture focused on making consumer-centric data-driven decisions.

Keptner holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Penn State University and an MBA from Temple University.