WBA recruits new chief executive from Starbucks

WBA recruits new chief executive from Starbucks
Rosalind Brewer has worked for Starbucks and Walmart

28 January 2021 - Deborah Wilkes

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has recruited Starbucks executive Rosalind Brewer as its new chief executive officer with effect from 15 March 2021.

Brewer will take over from Stefano Pessina who is stepping down as chief executive officer but will remain executive chairman (click here to read the News story).

WBA described Brewer as a “35-year consumer and retail industry veteran with deep experience in transformational, operational and digital strategies”.

Brewer is chief operating officer and group president of Starbucks. WBA said she had been instrumental in helping the coffeehouse chain accelerate its growth strategy and expand its global reach.

Prior to joining Starbucks in 2017, Brewer was president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club, the members-only warehouse channel of Walmart.

Brewer made history

Brewer made history by becoming the first woman and first African American to lead a Walmart division.

She is a former director of Amazon, Lockheed Martin and Molson Coors Brewing Company.

Pessina said Brewer was a “distinguished and experienced executive who has led organisations globally through periods of changing consumer behaviour by applying innovation that elevates customer experiences – ultimately driving significant and sustainable growth and value creation”.

“Her relentless focus on the customer, talent development, operational rigour and strong expertise in digital and technological transformation are exactly what WBA needs as the company enters its next chapter,” he added.

Pessina’s long history with WBA

Pessina’s history with WBA dates back to 1977 when he established the Franco-Italian pharmaceutical wholesaling group Alliance Santé.

He has been WBA’s chief executive officer since the company was formed in December 2014 from the merger of Walgreens with Alliance Boots. He was interim chief executive officer from January 2015 and became chief executive officer in July 2015.

WBA said Pessina had “transformed and modernised the company into a global pharmacy, health and wellness leader, significantly expanding WBA’s retail footprint and investing in digitalisation”.

Pessina will replace James Skinner as executive chairman. Skinner will remain on WBA’s board as a non-executive director to “facilitate a smooth leadership transition”.

WBA has just announced plans to divest the majority of its Alliance Healthcare pharmaceutical wholesaling businesses to US drug distributor AmerisourceBergen in a cash and shares deal worth around USD6.5 billion. WBA plans to focus on growing its core retail pharmacy businesses (click here to read the News story).

In the three months ended 30 November 2020, which was the first quarter of WBA’s financial year, the company reported worldwide sales of USD36.3 billion. This represented a rise of 5.7% as reported compared to the same period a year earlier. Sales were up by 5.2% at constant currencies (click here to read the News story).

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