CVS Health on Monday announced the appointment of Kevin Hourican as president of CVS Pharmacy, its retail business.
He's an inside pick, having worked at CVS since 2012, most recently as executive vice president of retail pharmacy, and previously in other leadership roles. And before joining CVS, he served in executive leadership roles at Macy's and Sears Roebuck, where he gained significant experience in omnichannel operations and front store merchandising, according to a company press release.
Hourican replaces Helena Foulkes, who was appointed CEO of department store Hudson's Bay in February.
The news comes on a good day for CVS, as news outlets reported that Amazon's business unit has abandoned plans to sell and distribute pharmaceutical products, and that the e-commerce giant is even finding scaled down ambitions to sell medical supplies problematic.
Amazon already sells medical devices and employs executives to deal with health care-related regulatory issues, and for months was said to be exploring how to ramp up its efforts in the pharmacy space. That led specialist investment bank Leerink Partners analysts last fall to speculate with some certainty that Amazon would enter the pharmacy space within two years.
That was a blow to CVS, which late last year expanded its own healthcare capabilities with a plan to acquire health insurance giant Aetna for $69 billion. GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders and other analysts hailed that as an exciting opportunity for one of the country's largest drugstore retailers to provide more streamlined medical services in what is now a convoluted and expensive market. CVS Health runs nearly 10,000 pharmacies in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In February the company reported fourth quarter net revenues rose 5.3% to $48.4 billion, driven primarily by growth in its pharmacy network, volume in its specialty pharmacies volume and brand inflation, while front same-store sales fell 0.7% as traffic declined and the company pulled back on promotions. Saunders earlier this year called the company "hopeless at retailing," so Hourican has his work cut out for him.
"As much as CVS is forward thinking and innovative in health, it is an extraordinarily unimaginative and backward-looking retailer," Saunders warned in comments emailed to Retail Dive earlier this year. "Unfortunately, relatively few retail shoppers see CVS as a destination in its own right, even for categories like beauty, which are naturally allied to its proposition. Given the scale of CVS, which puts its stores within easy reach of most Americans, this is a massive lost opportunity."
In a statement on Monday, CVS Health Chief Operating Officer Jon Roberts expressed confidence in Hourican's ability to meet the challenge, in light of his well-rounded experience in retail. "We believe that Kevin will bring his extensive consumer and retail skills to our front store business as well and I have no doubt he will be able to further transform our stores to become the front door of health care for consumers, patients and caregivers."