- Walgreens Boots Alliance late Tuesday announced that Rosalind Brewer will replace Stefano Pessina as CEO, effective March 15. As previously announced, Pessina will take the role of executive chairman of the board, replacing James Skinner.
- Brewer arrives from Starbucks, where she was chief operating officer for three years, and will also join the Walgreens board, according to a company press release.
- Before Starbucks, she was president and CEO of Walmart's membership-based warehouse retailer, Sam's Club, after her arrival at Walmart in 2006.
Pessina arrived to take the reins at Walgreens about six years ago, after the company merged with U.K. drugstore Boots.
He went on to oversee a truncated takeover of Rite Aid stores after the rivals failed to merge due to antitrust concerns. That led to the immediate closure of some 600 locations and another couple hundred in 2019 as part of aggressive cost-cutting.
The company runs a sprawling network, with a presence in more than 25 countries, employing more than 450,000 people and operating more than 21,000 stores. In the U.S. at the moment, the retailer is in focus as a major distribution point for vaccines against COVID-19. Brewer also faces the wider challenge of how to catch up to rivals Walmart and CVS Health, (the latter owns a health insurance company), as Amazon finally enters the pharmacy space after years of rumors.
During her tenures at Walmart and Starbucks, Brewer was already notably one of the few Black executives in retail. In assuming the leadership role at Walgreens Brewer becomes one of three Black women who have helmed Fortune 500 companies and the only one currently, as media outlets noted following her appointment.