CVS chief executive to retire in 2011, succession plan in place

Woonsocket, R.I. CVS Caremark Corp. said Wednesday chairman and CEO Thomas M. Ryan will retire next year, and its board has picked company executive Larry J. Merlo to succeed him.

The drug store chain says Ryan plans to step down in May 2011. The board appointed Merlo, 54, president and COO, and anticipates he will replace Ryan as CEO.

Merlo also will be elected to the company's board. He has 20 years of experience with CVS. He served recently as company executive VP and president of its CVS/pharmacy retail operations.

Ryan, 58, has been with CVS for 36 years, including 16 years as president. He said in a statement from the company their 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.

The company has formed an office of the chairman to help with the transition. It includes Ryan, Merlo and Per Lofberg, president of the company's pharmacy benefit management business, Caremark Pharmacy Services.

CVS Caremark operates 7,063 drug stores around the country.

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