Walgreens appoints Starbucks Executive Roz Brewer as CEO

Walgreens

WBA 2.86%

Boots Alliance Inc. will name Starbucks Corp. general manager Roz Brewer as its next general manager, according to those familiar with the matter. That makes her the only black woman to run a Fortune 500 company today.

Ms. Brewer will replace Stefano Pessina, who said in July he would do so step down as CEO Once the drugstore found a new leader. Mr. Pessina, one of Walgreens’ largest single investors, said he plans to remain on the company’s board of directors and serve as executive chairman.

Walgreens shares, valued at roughly $ 43 billion, rose 7.4% hours after the Wall Street Journal reported the move.

Starbucks said Tuesday that Ms. Brewer would be leaving for a new position with another public company in late February. Before joining the coffeehouse chain, Ms. Brewer was CEO of

Walmart Inc.’s

Sam’s Club Division for five years.

Ms. Brewer, 58, has been the operations manager and board member at Starbucks since 2017. She helped Starbucks focus on operations during the pandemic and has worked on it Diversification of corporate governance. Starbucks said last fall it would Management remuneration binding Increase the representation of minorities in the workforce and train antibiotics executives for business leaders.

In 2019, Ms. Brewer joined the board of directors

Amazon.com Inc.

under pressure on the company to add diversity to its board of directors. Increasingly, Amazon is expanding into the healthcare space, becoming a competitor to companies like Walgreens and CVS. In 2018 Amazon Bought online pharmacy PillPack for $ 1 billion.

Stefano Pessina visited a Walgreen in Deerfield, Illinois in March 2019.


Photo:

LUCY HEWETT FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Walgreens, the largest US drug store chain, struggled to turn around, which was made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Pessina, an Italian billionaire, took over five years ago after the merger of Walgreens and European pharmacy chain Alliance Boots.

Where rival

CVS health Corp.

Walgreens has grown into a healthcare giant through the acquisitions of Caracy Benefit Manager Caremark in 2006 and insurer Aetna Inc.

man Inc.

and pharmacy rivals

Rite aid Corp.

Walgreens recently announced plans to sell Much of the pharmacy wholesale in Europe is less focused on the US namesake chain and the Boots pharmacy chain in the UK

Reduced retail traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating Walgreens retail struggles, and the company’s efforts to transform itself into a healthcare provider have yet to take hold. The company is too likely to play a central role Delivering the Covid-19 vaccine to the American public. Along with CVS, Walgreens worked with the federal government to administer doses in the country’s long-term care facilities.

In the most recent quarter, the pharmacy chain’s profit fell 25%, despite total sales increasing and the company working to cut costs. Retail pharmacy sales rose 1.6% in the US, well below expectations. Executives said the prescription volume was weaker than planned.

Last year, Walgreens was among the worst-performing members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, with shares falling 29.4%. The index gained 7.3% in 2020.

As the first African American and first woman to head a Walmart business unit, Ms. Brewer joined the retail giant in 2006 after two decades

Kimberly-Clark Corp.

where she started as a chemist. She is a graduate of Spelman College, where she chairs the Board of Trustees.

There are four black CEOs in the Fortune 500: Kenneth Frazier of the pharmaceutical giant

Merck & Co.,

Marvin Ellison from the hardware store chain

Lowes Cos.,

Roger Ferguson Jr. of TIAA, a financial services company, and René Jones, who heads the company

M&T Bank Corp.

in New York.

The number of women running Fortune 500 companies hit an all-time high of 37 last year. More have been appointed since then.

Write to Dana Mattioli at [email protected] and Cara Lombardo at [email protected]

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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