Walgreens to Name Starbucks Executive Roz Brewer as CEO -- 3rd Update
By Dana Mattioli and Cara Lombardo
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is set to name Starbucks Corp.
operating chief Roz Brewer as its next chief executive, according
to people familiar with the matter, setting her up to be the only
Black female leading a Fortune 500 company today.
Ms. Brewer will replace Stefano Pessina, who said in July that
he would step down as CEO once the drugstore company found a new
leader. Mr. Pessina, one of Walgreens' biggest individual
investors, said he was planning to stay on the company's board and
serve as executive chairman.
Shares of Walgreens, which has a market value of around $43
billion, rose 7.4% after hours after The Wall Street Journal
reported on the move.
Starbucks said Tuesday that Ms. Brewer was leaving at the end of
February for a new role at another public company. Before joining
the coffeehouse chain, Ms. Brewer was CEO of Walmart Inc.'s Sam's
Club division for five years.
Ms. Brewer, 58 years old, has been operating chief and a member
of the board at Starbucks since 2017. She helped shift Starbucks
toward a focus on to-go operations during the pandemic and has
worked to diversify the company's leadership. Starbucks last fall
said it would tie executive compensation to increasing minority
representation in its workforce, and mandated antibias training for
In 2019, Ms. Brewer joined the board of Amazon.com Inc. amid
pressure on the company to add more diversity to its board. Amazon
has been increasingly expanding into the health care space,
becoming more of a competitor to companies such as Walgreens and
CVS. In 2018, Amazon bought online pharmacy PillPack for $1
Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, has been struggling
to turn itself around, an effort complicated by the coronavirus
pandemic. Mr. Pessina, an Italian billionaire, took over five years
ago following the merger of Walgreens and European pharmacy chain
Where rival CVS Health Corp. has built itself into a health-care
behemoth through acquisitions of pharmacy benefit manager Caremark
in 2006 and insurer Aetna Inc., Walgreens shifted away from all-out
acquisitions after unsuccessful attempts to buy insurer Humana Inc.
and pharmacy rival Rite Aid Corp.
Walgreens recently announced plans to sell much of its wholesale
pharmacy business in Europe, narrowing its focus on its U.S.
namesake chain and the Boots pharmacy chain in the U.K.
Reduced store traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic is
exacerbating Walgreens' retail struggles, and the company's efforts
to transform itself into a provider of health-care services have
yet to take hold. The company also is expected to play a central
role administering the Covid-19 vaccine to the American public.
Along with CVS, Walgreens worked with the federal government to
administer doses at the nation's long-term-care facilities.
In its latest quarter, the pharmacy chain's profit fell 25% even
as overall revenue rose and the company worked to cut costs. Retail
pharmacy sales increased 1.6% in the U.S., well below expectations,
and executives said prescription volumes were weaker than
Last year, Walgreens was among the worst-performing members of
the Dow Jones Industrial Average, with its shares falling 29.4%.
The index gained 7.3% in 2020.
The first African-American and first woman to lead a Walmart
business unit, Ms. Brewer joined the retail giant in 2006 after two
decades at Kimberly-Clark Corp., where she started as a chemist.
She is a graduate of Spelman College, where she chairs the board of
There are four Black CEOs in the Fortune 500: Kenneth Frazier of
pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Marvin Ellison of hardware
store chain Lowe's Cos., Roger Ferguson Jr. of TIAA, a financial
services firm, and René Jones, who runs M&T Bank Corp. in New
The number of women running Fortune 500 companies hit an
all-time high last year at 37 and more have since been
Write to Dana Mattioli at firstname.lastname@example.org and Cara
Lombardo at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 26, 2021 19:06 ET (00:06 GMT)
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