Walgreens CEO shifts role

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Walgreens CEO shifts role

By Dan Berthiaume - 07/27/2020
Stefano Pessina
Stefano Pessina

After five years at the helm of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Stefano Pessina has decided to step down as CEO. 

The board of directors will begin a search for a new CEO, and at the time of this appointment, Pessina will assume the role of executive chairman and James (Jim) Skinner will step down as executive chairman, a role he has held since January 2015, but remain on the board to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.

Following the merger between Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014, Pessina, 79, was appointed executive vice chairman in January 2015. The Italian-born billionaire will remain Walgreens’ largest shareholder. He is leaving the CEO post following a disappointing third quarter that included a $1.7 billion net loss and job cuts in the U.K.

However, Walgreens Boots Alliance enjoyed a number of successes during Pessina’s tenure as CEO. After the merger, the company successfully completed several strategic partnerships and acquisitions, and was modernized, prepared for the future, and reorganized for more efficiencies and effectiveness. Walgreens Boots Alliance also focused on its four key strategic priorities: creating neighborhood health destinations, driving cost transformation, accelerating digitalization, and restructuring its retail offering.

The company has a presence in more than 25 countries, employs more than 440,000 people, has more than 18,750 stores, and offers an extensive portfolio of private-label product brands. Walgreens Boots Alliance also has one of the largest global pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution networks, with more than 400 distribution centers supplying more than 115,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals each year. 

“I want to thank our team members around the world for their extensive achievements in the last five years, as we have fulfilled our purpose to help people lead healthier and happier lives,” said Pessina. “I look forward to continuing to serve the company as executive chairman, and to helping to ensure the success of the new chief executive officer in every way possible. I am also very glad that Jim and I will continue to work together on the board, and on behalf of the entire company, we greatly appreciate all his contributions during his time as executive chairman.”

“It has been an enormous privilege to work with Stefano, the board of directors and all our employees during my time as executive chairman,” said Skinner. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity, as well as the chance to continue to serve as a board member in the future. Together, we have built our company into a global leader in retail and wholesale pharmacy. As the healthcare industry and consumer behavior continue to advance quickly, we look forward to a new CEO joining the team with the deep expertise and skillset to drive future success as we move into a new chapter of our company’s very long and proud history.”

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