Walgreens CEO Ross Brewer has stepped down after more than two years in the role

Walgreens Boots Alliance Rose Brewer has stepped down as the company’s chief executive, the company said Friday.

He stepped down from the company’s board effective Thursday. The result is mutual, according to Press release.

Shares of Walgreens were effectively flat in premarket trading.

Ginger Graham, the lead independent director and a veteran of the healthcare industry, will serve as interim chairman while the company searches for a replacement. Graham is a veteran of the healthcare industry.

Brewer has agreed to continue advising the company until a permanent CEO is selected. She did not immediately return requests for comment.

“Our board and leadership team are focused on creating value for our customers and our shareholders while we continue our search for a successor with deep healthcare experience,” said Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Walgreens.

Brewer and Walgreens remained tight-lipped until Friday’s announcement. Walgreens shares are down more than 32% this year as of Thursday’s close as the company struggles with falling demand for Covid testing and vaccines. Front-end retail sales of products such as toothpaste and shampoo continue to decline as consumers flock to competitors. Walmart And Amazon For those everyday needs, you can order online and get it delivered within a day or two.

In June, the company said Financial third quarter earnings It missed Wall Street expectations for the first time since July 2020. It also lowered its profit guidance for the year.

However, the cases of Covid Rise again And it will be a boon for pharmacy sales. The next Covid boosters will start rolling out in mid-September.

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For consumers not interested in yet another Covid booster, they can turn to Walgreens for its regular cold and flu products. In the first quarter of the fiscal year ended November 30, a Early cold and flu season That boosted demand for cough and cold medicines and helped Walgreens offset its losses from a slowdown in vaccine demand.

A retailer in the healthcare world

A veteran of Walmart and StarbucksBrewer has led Walgreens since March 2021. During his brief tenure, which included significant expansion during the Covid pandemic, the company pursued a transformation that positioned Walgreens as a healthcare company rather than a pharmacy chain.

Walgreens recently acquired Summit Health and primary-care provider VillageMD, which has opened hundreds of wholesale clinics, including some near Walgreens stores.

It also struck a deal with CareCentrix, which coordinates home care for patients after they are discharged from hospital, and specialty pharmacy company Shields Health Solutions.

Competitor CVS Health Corp Leaning on a health strategy. In February, that is announced plans For the achiever Oak Street Health Inc With about $9.5 billion in cash, it could add primary care to its portfolio of healthcare offerings. Meanwhile, Rite Aid Corp It is now reportedly preparing to file for bankruptcy, focusing on expanding its pharmacy presence.

As Walgreens leans deeper into its aspirations to become a health care provider and away from its identity as a drugstore chain, Brewer’s skills don’t align with the company’s goals. Prior to working with Walgreens, he served as chief operating officer and group president of Starbucks and previously ran Walmart’s Sam’s Club as its CEO. He spent a decade with Walmart in a series of executive positions.

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“The retail side of the business, where Ms. Brewer has the most experience, is not an area Walgreens wants to pursue as a major growth opportunity,” Neil Sanders, retail analyst and managing director of global data, said in an emailed statement.

“All of this must be disappointing for Ms. Brewer, but it also means that a different kind of experience is needed to lead the business. It’s worth noting that interim CEO Ginger Graham has a very deep background in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries,” he added.

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