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Walgreens Boots initiates CEO search as Brewer resigns after two-year tenure

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Rosalind Brewer, the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA), the parent company of Boots UK, has resigned from her position after serving for less than three years. The prominent US pharmaceutical company is currently in the process of searching for her successor. Ginger Graham, the lead independent director, has been appointed as the interim CEO.

“WBA’s board of directors and Brewer have mutually agreed on her departure as chief executive and board member,” the company said in a statement.

Brewer officially stepped down from her roles as chief executive and director on Thursday (Aug. 31). She assumed the CEO role in March 2021, succeeding Executive Chairman Stefano Pessina. Prior to this, Brewer held the position of CEO at Starbucks.

The leadership change aligns with WBA’s shift towards becoming a broader healthcare company, a strategic move initiated by Brewer and her team in October 2021.

“I am confident that WBA is on the path to becoming a leading consumer-centric healthcare company, serving numerous communities across the nation, particularly those with the most pressing healthcare needs,” said Brewer. “I eagerly anticipate witnessing the company’s ongoing transformation to provide localised healthcare.”

According to WBA, Brewer, one of the few Black CEOs on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies, will be granted a $9 million severance package and will continue to serve as a special adviser until February 2024, receiving a monthly consulting fee of $375,000.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Roz for her contributions to WBA,” said Pessina. “Roz led the company through the global pandemic, overseeing the rollout of vaccines in Walgreens pharmacies and to high-risk populations nationwide.”

“She enhanced our consumer-facing capabilities while fostering a culture of community and team member engagement during challenging times,” Pessina added. “We value her dedication and hard work throughout this period of unprecedented change.”

WBA is the parent company overseeing a global portfolio of consumer brands, which includes Walgreens, Boots, Duane Reade, No7 Beauty Company, Benavides, and Ahumada. WBA’s retail pharmacy unit operates 8,886 drugstores in 50 states across the U.S., while Boots division in the United Kingdom comprises 2,200 stores, including community pharmacies and large health-and-beauty outlets.

“By fully leveraging WBA’s mission, values, and brand strength, we have a significant opportunity to further enhance our role in local healthcare delivery,” said Graham. “My primary focus will be on our personnel and operations, collaborating to generate value for shareholders and ensuring a seamless transition once we identify the future CEO.”

In July, Boots announced plans to close 300 stores in the UK as part of WBA’s effort to optimise its store network. This will reduce the total number of stores from 2,200 to 1,900. With a current workforce of over 52,000, the move will affect numerous jobs, but Boots intends to offer redeployment to nearby shops to avoid layoffs. The latest announcement came despite a significant 13.4 per cent increase in sales for the three months ending in May compared to the same period in 2022.

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