Just three months into his role as president of Walgreens and in the midst of a joint venture with Kroger, Richard Ashworth is leaving the drug store chain to join a healthy lifestyle company that is a fraction the size of Walgreens.
Tivity Health named 30 year Walgreens veteran Ashworth as its new president and CEO effective June 1. Ashworth’s departure is noteworthy for several reasons and comes as the retailer is involved with Kroger on unique program that features Kroger branded food departments in Walgreens stores and Walgreens health care departments in Kroger stores.
There's no reason that program wouldn't be continued, or even expanded, but changes in senior leadership can lead to new thinking about strategic initiatives. In Walgreens case, Ashworth had just been elevated to the role of President in February 2020 after previously serving as president of operations since November 2017. Prior to that he led the company’s pharmacy segment as president of pharmacy and retail operations from 2014 to 2017. And prior to that he led the development and delivery of the healthcare strategy for the company's strategic partnership with U.K.-based Alliance Boots, which Walgreens later acquired.
It's worth noting the size disparity between Walgreens Boots Alliance and Tivity Health, a company that bills itself as a provider of healthy life-changing solutions such as SilverSneakers, Nutrisystem, Prime Fitness, Wisely Well, South Beach Diet and WholeHealth Living. Walgreens Boots Alliance generates $104.5 billion in revenues from its U.S. retail division which includes 9,277 stores. Conversely, Tivity Health’s annual sales last year were $1.1 billion and it recently announced plans to explore strategic alternatives for its nutrition business, which if divested would make Trivity even smaller.
Although Ashworth held a significant role at Walgreens, the company did not issue a statement announcing his departure or indicate whether his role would be filled. In a statement shared with Progressive Grocer’s sister publication Drug Store News, a spokesperson said that Walgreens Boots Alliance co-COO Alex Gourlay would be taking over leadership of Walgreens. Gourlay had been serving in the dual role until Ashworth was appointed Walgreens president.
Tivity announced Ashworth’s appointment on May 21. He will earn an annual salary of $900,000, have an opportunity to earning a $900,000 cash bonus and receive a total of 650,000 restricted stock units.
“Richard (Ashworth) has significant experience navigating a rapidly changing healthcare landscape while serving a portfolio of large customers and individual consumers in the intensely competitive retail realm," said Anthony Sanfilippo, Tivity’s chairman. “Richard will leverage our core capabilities in healthcare and consumer-focused nutrition programs to deliver market-leading solutions that focus on profitable revenue growth.”