WAL­GREENS CEO STEP­PING DOWN, WILL BE EX­EC­U­TIVE CHAIR

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM MUR­PHY AP Health Writer

Wal­greens’ Ste­fano Pessina will step down as CEO and be­come ex­ec­u­tive chair­man once the drug­store chain finds a re­place­ment for him.

The cur­rent ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, former McDon­ald’s CEO Jim Skin­ner, will re­main on the board af­ter Pessina takes over.

The com­pany an­nounced no time frame Mon­day in find­ing a suc­ces­sor to the 79-yearold Pessina.

Pessina told Wal­greens Boots Al­liance Inc. board mem­bers in a let­ter dated July 23 that he has thought about step­ping down “for some time, but for the rea­sons the Board knows, the time was not right to do so.”

In the let­ter, he said he thought now was the right time to find a suc­ces­sor.

The lead­er­ship changes didn’t sur­prise Ed­ward Jones an­a­lyst John Boy­lan, who noted Pessina’s age. But the an­a­lyst said the fact that no new CEO was im­me­di­ately named came as a “mod­est sur­prise.”

Boy­lan said he thinks there’s an op­por­tu­nity for Wal­greens, based in north sub­ur­ban Deer­field, to hire some­one from out­side the com­pany to bring in fresh ideas. But he also said that Pessina will still hold con­sid­er­able sway as one of the com­pany’s largest share­hold­ers.

Pessina has a stake of more than 16%, ac­cord­ing to Fact­Set.

The change in lead­er­ship comes a cou­ple weeks af­ter Wal­greens an­nounced a huge quar­terly loss and a ma­jor busi­ness pivot.

Wal­greens posted a $1.7 bil­lion loss in the quar­ter that ended May 31 with mil­lions of peo­ple shel­ter­ing at home due to the rapidly spread­ing COVID-19 pan­demic.

Wal­greens was par­tic­u­larly hurt in the quar­ter by plung­ing sales from its Boots stores in the United King­dom.

The chain also an­nounced this month that it will squeeze pri­mary care clin­ics into as many as 700 of its U.S. stores over the next few years in a bid to play a greater role in man­ag­ing cus­tomer health.

Wal­greens runs more than 9,200 stores in the United States and has more than 18,750 lo­ca­tions in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Pessina has been CEO since 2015, af­ter Wal­greens com­bined with Euro­pean health and beauty re­tailer Al­liance Boots to cre­ate the cur­rent com­pany.

Shares fell more than 1% Mon­day to $39.84.

VIA AP WAL­GREENS BOOTS AL­LIANCE

Wal­greens Boots Al­liance CEO Ste­fano Pessina, 79, says in a let­ter he has thought about step­ping down “for some time.” He has a stake of more than 16% of the Deer­field-based com­pany.

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