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Walgreens CEO out

Rosalind Brewer has stepped down as CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Rosalind Brewer has stepped down as CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Walgreens Boots Alliance has started a search for a new chief executive. 

In a move that caught the industry by surprise, Rosalind Brewer has stepped down as CEO of Walgreens, effective as of Aug. 31, after less than three years on the job. The decision was mutual, according to a company news release. She also left the company’s board.

Walgreens said that Brewer will continue to advise the company while it searches for a new CEO with "deep healthcare experience." Ginger Graham, lead independent director, has been appointed interim chief. Graham previously served as CEO of Amylin Pharmaceuticals and, prior to that, was group chairman, office of the president, for cardiology medical technology company Guidant Corporation. She started her career at Eli Lilly and Company.

Brewer was appointed CEO of Walgreens in March 2021, becoming the only Black female to head up a Fortune 500 company. She succeeded Stefano Pessina, who stepped down to transition to the role of executive chairman.  Prior to joining Walgreens, Brewer served as COO and group president at Starbucks. Before that, she was president and CEO of Walmart’s Sam’s Club. 

"Our board and leadership team will intensify our focus on creating value for our customers and our shareholders while we advance the search for a successor with deep healthcare experience to lead in today’s dynamic environment," stated Pessina.

Brewer's departure comes as Walgreens has been shifting its focus from pharmacy retail to health care services.  In June, the company reported third-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street expectations and slashed its earnings outlook, taking a more cautious stance in light of “consumer spending uncertainty.”  On the earnings call, she told analysts that the soft demand for Covid vaccines and lower consumer spending is likely to continue into next year.

“Roz navigated the company through the global pandemic, overseeing the critical rollout of vaccines in Walgreens pharmacies and to high-risk populations across the country,” stated Pessina. “She furthered our consumer facing capabilities while supporting the culture of community and team-member engagement in difficult times. We appreciate her hard work and commitment to the company during this period of unprecedented change.”

In its release, Walgreens noted that Brewer took the reins of Walgreens just as COVID-19 vaccines were becoming available to the American people. To date, the company has delivered over 70 million vaccine shots.

“She built and led a team to stand up the technology for a vaccine scheduling system, created a safe operating model for store labor, and developed a plan to drive vaccine equity,”  the company said. “Ms. Brewer and her team introduced a significant strategic pivot towards the growth of WBA into healthcare, including three strategic acquisitions to expand and accelerate WBA’s consumer-centric healthcare offerings. During her tenure the company also achieved considerable cost savings through its transformational cost management program.” 



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