October 2, 2023

Rosalind “Roz” Brewer

Jason Redmond | Afp | Getty Pictures

Walgreens Boots Alliance stated Friday that Roz Brewer had stepped down as the corporate’s chief govt because it leans deeper into its technique to turn out to be a health-care firm as an alternative of a drugstore.

She additionally left the corporate’s board, efficient Thursday. The choice was mutual, in accordance with a information launch.

Shares of Walgreens fell about 7% Friday.

Ginger Graham, the lead impartial director and a health-care trade veteran, will work as interim chief whereas the corporate searches for a successor. Graham is a veteran of the health-care trade.

Brewer has agreed to proceed advising the corporate till it selects a everlasting CEO. She did not instantly return requests for remark.

“Our Board and management workforce will intensify our give attention to creating worth for our clients and our shareholders whereas we advance the seek for a successor with deep healthcare expertise to guide in at present’s dynamic setting,” stated Stefano Pessina, Walgreens’ govt chairman.

Brewer and Walgreens had been in a tough patch main as much as Friday’s announcement. Walgreens shares are down greater than 32% this yr as of Thursday’s shut, as the corporate has struggled with a drop in demand for Covid testing and vaccines. It is also seen front-end retail gross sales for gadgets like toothpaste and shampoo constantly fall as shoppers go to opponents like Walmart and Amazon for these on a regular basis requirements, which will be ordered on-line and delivered inside a few days.

In June, the corporate reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that missed Wall Road expectations for the primary time since July 2020. It additionally slashed its revenue steerage for the yr.

Nonetheless, Covid circumstances are again on the rise, and will show to be a boon for pharmacy gross sales. The following Covid boosters are slated to begin rolling out in mid-September.

For shoppers who might not be concerned with one other Covid booster, they might nonetheless flip to Walgreens for its typical over-the-counter chilly and flu merchandise. Throughout its fiscal first quarter ended Nov. 30, an early chilly and flu season boosted demand for cough and chilly drugs and helped Walgreens offset its losses from a slowdown in vaccine demand.

A retail veteran in a health-care world

A veteran of Walmart and Starbucks, Brewer had led Walgreens since March 2021. Throughout her transient tenure, which included a large stretch of the Covid pandemic, the corporate had pursued a transition that might place Walgreens extra as a health-care firm than a pharmacy chain.

Walgreens not too long ago acquired Summit Well being and primary-care supplier VillageMD, which has opened a whole bunch of clinics, together with some which are adjoining to Walgreens shops.

It additionally struck a take care of CareCentrix, which coordinates residence take care of sufferers after they’re discharged from the hospital, and Shields Well being Options, a specialty pharmacy firm.

Competitor CVS Well beingĀ has additionally been leaning right into a health-care technique. In February, it introduced plans to amassĀ Oak Road Well being for about $9.5 billion in money so it could actually add main care to its portfolio of well being choices. In the meantime, Ceremony Assist has targeted on increasing its pharmacy presence and is now reportedly getting ready a chapter submitting.

But as Walgreens leans deeper into its aspirations to turn out to be a health-care supplier and away from its id as a drugstore chain, Brewer’s ability set wasn’t as aligned with the corporate’s objectives. Earlier than her tenure with Walgreens, she served as Starbucks’ working chief and group president, and beforehand ran Walmart’s Sam’s Membership as its CEO. She’d spent a couple of decade with Walmart in a collection of govt positions.

“The retail aspect of the enterprise, the place Ms. Brewer has far more expertise, is just not an space that Walgreens desires to pursue as a significant progress alternative,” retail analyst and GlobalData managing director Neil Saunders stated in an emailed assertion.

“All of this should come as a disappointment to Ms. Brewer, nevertheless it additionally signifies that a unique form of expertise is required to guide the enterprise. It’s notable that the interim CEO, Ginger Graham, has a a lot deeper background within the healthcare and pharma industries,” he added.

Brewer’s final foray into the well being world ended within the early 2000s when she was an govt on the Kimberly-Clark, a worldwide well being and hygiene merchandise firm, the place she labored for greater than 20 years.

“I’m assured that WBA is on monitor to be a number one consumer-centric healthcare firm, serving 1000’s of communities throughout the nation, particularly people who want entry to healthcare essentially the most,” Brewer stated in Friday’s announcement.

Pessina thanked Brewer for her high-stakes work through the Covid pandemic. She joined the corporate proper across the time Covid vaccines had been turning into accessible for most of the people and the rollout’s early days had been usually marked by rigidity, chaos and dysfunction.

“She furthered our client going through capabilities whereas supporting the tradition of neighborhood and team-member engagement in tough instances,” stated Pessina.

Brewer led the workforce that created Walgreens’ vaccine scheduling system and developed a plan to drive vaccine fairness, the corporate stated.

Regardless of Brewer’s many accomplishments, Pessina known as Graham “the perfect particular person” to function the corporate’s interim CEO, contemplating her management expertise throughout a number of segments of the health-care trade.

Graham has been on Walgreens’ board since 2010. Final October, she was named the lead impartial director. She began her profession at Eli Lilly and has been on the boards of a number of health-care firms. She was additionally CEO of Amylin Prescription drugs.

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