|CVS CEO Thomas Ryan|
NEW YORK — CVS Caremark Corp. said chairman and chief executive Thomas M. Ryan will retire next year, and its board has picked retail executive Larry J. Merlo to succeed him.
The Woonsocket, R.I., drugstore chain said Ryan plans to step down in May 2011. The board appointed Merlo, 54, president and chief operating officer and anticipates he will replace Ryan as CEO. He has been in charge of CVS’s retail operations since March 1998.
Merlo also will be elected to the company’s board. He has worked at CVS for 20 years.
Ryan, 58, has been with CVS for 36 years, including 16 years as president. He said in a statement the plan provides for a “smooth, seamless transition in the leadership of CVS Caremark,’’ and he felt it was the right time to move forward with it.
Ryan’s tenure is likely to be defined by the merger of CVS and Caremark, which was completed in March 2007. The $26.5 billion deal combined one of the largest drugstore chains in the country with one of the biggest pharmacy benefits managers.
The company has expanded rapidly in recent years with the help of several major retail acquisitions. CVS bought 1,260 Eckerd drugstores in 2004, acquired 700 Osco and Sav-On stores and retail clinic operator MinuteClinic in 2006, and purchased Longs Drugs Stores and its 500 locations in 2009.
CVS now runs 7,063 drugstores nationwide. It is the second-largest drugstore chain in terms of stores, and the third-largest pharmacy benefits manager by revenue.