Rosalind Brewer, the chief executive of Walgreens Boots Alliance, will step down from the position she’s occupied since March 2021, the retail and pharmacy chain announced on Friday.
The company said the decision for Ms. Brewer to depart was mutual. She was one of the few women running a Fortune 500 company, and when she was appointed she was the only Black woman to hold that position. Ginger Graham, a director on the board of Walgreens, was named interim chief as the search for a permanent replacement began.
Why It Matters: A pivot from pharmacy to health services.
Walgreens has been shifting away from pharmacy and retail to focus more on health care services, analysts noted after Ms. Brewer’s departure was announced.
“The group, which previously grew through various pharmacy acquisitions, is now looking to consolidate and focus its efforts on the U.S. health care sector,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said in an email. “While the wisdom of this move is debatable, health care is not Ms. Brewer’s forte.”
Before joining Walgreens, Ms. Brewer was the chief operating officer of Starbucks and previously served as chief executive of Sam’s Club, the division of Walmart.
During Ms. Brewer’s tenure, in addition to opening more doctors’ offices inside its stores, she oversaw the complicated rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine at pharmacies and enforcement of pandemic safety standards within stores.
In a statement, Ms. Brewer said she was proud of what she had accomplished and said the company was “on track to be a leading consumer-centric health care company.”
What’s Next: The search for a permanent successor.
Walgreens said a search for a permanent leader was underway.
Stefano Pessina, the company’s executive chairman, said in a statement that Ms. Graham was the “ideal person to serve as interim C.E.O.” Ms. Graham was previously chief executive of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, chairman of Guidant Corporation and started her career at Eli Lilly.
It is rare for a woman to replace another female chief executive. This year, gender diversity has fallen within the top ranks of retail companies. Of the 86 retail companies in the Fortune 1000, 13 had a woman as chief executive as of July 2023, down slightly from the year before, according to the executive recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles.