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Rite Aid names new VP, CFO

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Rite Aid Corp. named Darren Karst, a longtime retail finance executive, as executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective Aug. 20.

Karst succeeds Frank Vitrano, who will retire in September 2015. Until then, Vitrano retains the chief administrative officer responsibilities for the company's information technology, real estate and indirect procurement functions. He will also serve as "a key resource in the development and execution of new business and growth initiatives," Rite Aid said in a news release.

Karst will be responsible for all aspects of the company's finance, accounting, treasury, tax, investor relations, legal, risk management, internal assurance and asset protection functions. He will report to Rite Aid's chairman and CEO, John Standley.

"We are pleased to welcome Darren to the Rite Aid team," Standley said. "He is a proven leader with a broad-based financial background and a track record of success across a range of operating and financial disciplines. I am confident Darren's deep retail knowledge and experience will serve Rite Aid well as we move forward."

Standley acknowledged "the pivotal role" Vitrano played to improve Rite Aid's business performance and results over the past six years.

"We thank Frank for his dedication and hard work and we look forward to continuing to work together on executing our strategy to expand our health care offering and transform Rite Aid into a growing retail health care company," he added.

Karst joins Rite Aid from Roundy's Inc., a leading Midwest grocer based in Milwaukee, where he has been the executive vice president, chief financial officer and assistant secretary since 2002.

Prior to that, Karst was a partner at the Yucaipa Companies, a private equity investment firm. He also held executive financial positions within several Yucaipa portfolio companies, including Chicago-based Dominick's, where he served as the chief financial officer and a director.

Karst earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Kansas. He is also a certified public accountant.

East Pennsboro Township-based Rite Aid Corp. is the No. 3 drugstore chain in the nation. The company was operating 4,574 stores as of June 28 — a drop from 4,612 stores a year ago.

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