NEW YORK — Mary Sammons, already the highest ranking female executive in the chain drugstore industry, was elevated to chief executive officer, Rite Aid announced Thursday.

Sammons, currently president and chief operating officer for the 3,400-store chain, assumes the ceo title from Bob Miller, who will remain on as chairman. The changes go into effect June 25.

Sammons and Miller joined Rite Aid in 1999 as members of a new executive team tapped to turn around the financially troubled company. Before Rite Aid, Sammons was president and ceo of Fred Meyer Stores, a 137-unit combo-store operator.

Separately on Thursday, Rite Aid said a $12 million gain on the early extinguishment of debt allowed it to record net income of $7 million during the fourth quarter ended March 1 against a $257.9 million net loss in the year-ago quarter. The prior-year figure included $211.2 million in pre-tax stores closing and asset impairment charges versus $78.3 million of such charges in the most recent period. Rite Aid posted a net loss attributable to common stockholders of $8.3 million, or 2 cents a share, versus a loss of $265.2 million, or 51 cents a share, in the 2002 quarter. Sales increased 2.5 percent, to $4.14 billion from $4.04 billion, and advanced 4.7 percent on a comparable-store basis.

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