Dollar General hires chief medical officer, as it looks to become a health-care destination in rural areas


A customer enters a Dollar General Corp. store in Colona, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dollar General said Wednesday that it has hired its first chief medical officer and will add products like cold and cough medication and dental supplies to shelves as it aims to become a health-care destination.

CEO Todd Vasos said the company’s new push is inspired by customers who said they want more convenient and affordable health-care products and services.

“Our goal is to build and enhance affordable healthcare offerings for our customers, especially in the rural communities we serve,” he said in a press release.

The fast-growing discounter has more than 17,400 stores across the country, including many in rural areas that don’t have many other grocers or major pharmacies nearby. However, it has also been criticized by some lawmakers for selling few healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and boxing out other retailers that would otherwise open in the areas and sell a wider array of groceries.

In recent years, Dollar General has added fresh produce and meats to more of its stores. It has fresh produce in more than 1,300 stores — or roughly 7% of its total stores. It has said it may expand that assortment to up to 10,000 stores.

The retailer said it has hired Dr. Albert Wu as its chief medical officer. He previously worked for McKinsey & Company, where he led a team that focused on health-care related projects, such as providing care to thousands of rural patients, modeling how to support pandemic relief efforts and designing a digitally-driven health insurance.

Wu joined Dollar General on Monday, according to the press release. Dollar General said he will focus on building relationships with companies that provide health-care products and services, so the retailer can roll out its own offerings.

This article was originally published on CNBC