Walgreens CEO exits less than 3 years after taking over drug store chain


NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of Walgreens Boots has stepped down after less than three years at the helm of the drug store chain that is undergoing a sizeable transformation, one that has come at a cost.

Walgreens Boots Alliance confirmed Rosalind Brewer’s exit Friday. According to the Illinois company, the board of directors and Brewer “mutually agreed” to her resignation effective Thursday.

Ginger Graham, who currently serves as Walgreen Boots Alliance’s lead independent director, has been named interim CEO.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Walgreens Boots Alliance and to work alongside such talented and dedicated colleagues,” Brewer said in a written statement. “I am confident that WBA is on track to be a leading consumer-centric healthcare company, serving thousands of communities across the country.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. is the parent company of Walgreens and other consumer brands around the world — including Boots, Duane Reade, No7 Beauty Company, Benavides and Ahumada.

The company over the past several years has shifted its focus from providing medicines to get people through illnesses, to helping its customers avoid them.

That has included a major series of acquisitions aimed to put the company at the forefront of preventative care.

Walgreens acquired VillageMD for nearly $9-billion in November, an urgent and primary care chain. Two months earlier, it spent nearly $1.4 billion to buy the remaining stake in Shields Health Solutions it doesn’t already own and continue pushing into the fast-growing area of specialty pharmacy.

Company shares have been under heavy pressure as Walgreens attempts to transform itself. The stock has tumbled nearly 54% since the start of 2022.

Brewer has more experience in the retail side of the business, which “is simply not an area that Walgreens wants to pursue as a major growth opportunity,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData.

“Healthcare is a lucrative sector and Walgreens is not wrong to see it as a major part of its future playbook,” Saunders said. “However, the new permanent CEO will need to remember that it is possible to invest in both healthcare and retail. It should not be an either/or decision.”

Newly appointed acting CEO Ginger Graham, Saunders noted, has a much deeper background in the healthcare and pharma industries.

Shares for Walgreens Boots Alliance slipped about 1% at the opening bell Friday.

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