Rosalind "Roz" Brewer has stepped down as CEO and member of the board at the Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) effective Aug. 31. The decision was a mutual one between Brewer and and WBA, according to a news release. The WBA board has appointed Ginger Graham, the current lead independent director of WBA, as the company’s interim CEO. Brewer has agreed to continue to advise WBA while the company conducts a search for a permanent CEO. Graham is a veteran of the healthcare industry.
Brewer was named CEO in March 2021, just as COVID-19 vaccines were becoming available. She built and led a team to stand up the technology for a vaccine scheduling system, created a safe operating model for store labor, and developed a plan to drive vaccine equity.
To date, WBA has delivered over 70 million vaccine shots. In October 2021, Brewer and her team introduced a strategic pivot towards the growth of WBA into healthcare, including three strategic acquisitions to expand and accelerate WBA’s consumer-centric healthcare offerings. During her tenure the company also achieved considerable cost savings through its transformational cost management program.
Total Retail's Take: The news isn't surprising given the rough patch Walgreens has experienced lately. The retail pharmacy chain's shares were down more than 32 percent this year, as the company has struggled with a drop in demand for COVID testing and vaccines. It also saw retail sales for items like toothpaste and shampoo fall as consumers go to competitors like Walmart or Amazon.com for those items, which can be ordered online and delivered within a couple of days.
In addition, Walgreens is positioning itself more as a healthcare company rather than a retail chain, and Brewer's skillset wasn’t aligned with the company’s goals, given her deep retail background. Before her tenure with Walgreens, for example, she served as Starbucks’ operating chief and group president, and previously ran Walmart’s Sam’s Club as its CEO. Brewer spent about a decade with Walmart in a series of executive positions.