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

The CEO of Walgreens Boots has resigned after less than three years in charge, amid a significant transformation of the drug store chain.

NEW YORK (AP) — Walgreens Boots' CEO has resigned after less than three years in charge of the pharmacy chain, which is currently undergoing a significant transformation, a process that has not been without its costs.

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On Friday, Walgreens Boots Alliance announced the departure of Rosalind Brewer. The Illinois-based company stated that Brewer and the board of directors had "mutually agreed" to her resignation, effective from Thursday.

Ginger Graham, who currently holds the position of lead independent director at Walgreen Boots Alliance, has been appointed as the interim CEO.

"I am thankful for the chance to have led Walgreens Boots Alliance and to have worked with such skilled and committed colleagues," Brewer expressed in a written statement. "I am assured that WBA is on the path to becoming a leading consumer-focused healthcare company, serving thousands of communities nationwide.”

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

In recent years, the company has shifted its emphasis from supplying medicines to help people recover from illnesses, to assisting its customers in preventing them.

This has involved a significant series of acquisitions designed to position the company at the forefront of preventative care.

In November, Walgreens purchased VillageMD, an urgent and primary care chain, for nearly $9-billion. Two months prior, it spent almost $1.4 billion to acquire the remaining stake in Shields Health Solutions that it didn't already own, further expanding into the rapidly growing specialty pharmacy sector.

The company's shares have faced intense pressure as Walgreens strives to reinvent itself. The stock has plummeted nearly 54% since the beginning of 2022.

Brewer has more expertise in the retail aspect of the business, which “is not an area that Walgreens is looking to explore as a significant growth opportunity,” according to Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData.

“Healthcare is a profitable sector and Walgreens is correct in viewing it as a major component of its future strategy," Saunders stated. "However, the incoming permanent CEO should bear in mind that it's feasible to invest in both healthcare and retail. It shouldn't be a choice of one or the other.”

Saunders pointed out that the newly appointed interim CEO, Ginger Graham, has a much more extensive background in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

Walgreens Boots Alliance's shares fell by approximately 1% at the start of trading on Friday.