Stefano Pessina to Step Down as CEO at WBA

Mike Troy
Editorial Director
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Walgreens seeks new CEO

Walgreens Boots Alliance is seeking a new CEO following Stefano Pessina’s decision to step down, but the company didn’t provide a time frame for when or how it planned to execute the leadership transition.

The company said Pessina’s decision to step down as CEO was part of a leadership transition to prepare for the appointment of a new CEO who would drive further progress on key strategic priorities and transform the business for the future to address the rapidly-evolving healthcare sector. In a statement, the company said, “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 Skinner will step down as executive chairman but remain on the board to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.”

Pessina was appointed executive vice chairman in January 2015 following the merger between Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014. He served as interim CEO from January 2015, and was confirmed in the role from July 2015. Skinner has served as executive chairman of WBA since January 2015.

“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.”

Following the merger, and under the leadership of Pessina and Skinner, WBA completed several strategic partnerships and acquisitions, and was modernized, prepared for the future and reorganized for more efficiencies and effectiveness, according to the company. During this time, WBA delivered extensive benefits to customers, patients, local communities and its shareholders, including the execution on its four key strategic priorities: creating neighborhood health destinations, driving cost transformation, accelerating digitalization and restructuring its retail offering.

“It has been an enormous privilege to work with Stefano, the board of directors and all our employees during my time as executive chairman. 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,” said Skinner. “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.”

WBA operates 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. WBA has a presence in more than 25 countries, employs more than 440,000 people, has more than 18,750 stores, roughly 10,000 of which are located in the U.S.