Walgreens announced that Greg Wasson, president and chief executive officer, has informed the company’s board of directors that he will retire shortly after the close of the second step of the Alliance Boots transaction, on which shareholders are scheduled to vote on Dec. 29, 2014. Following the transaction close and Wasson’s retirement, Walgreens Chairman James Skinner will become Walgreens Boots Alliance’s executive chairman, and Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots and a member of the Walgreens board of directors, will serve as its acting CEO, pending a board search for a successor. In addition, William Foote will serve as the lead independent director of the Walgreens Boots Alliance board of directors.
“When I became CEO six years ago, I had three goals – to transform the front end of Walgreens drugstores, to advance the role that community pharmacy plays in health care and to find the right partner to take Walgreens global,” Wasson said. “With the creation of Walgreens Boots Alliance, it is now time for new leadership to move that vision forward building on the global platform we have created, executing on the company’s many opportunities and creating long-term sustainable value for our customers and shareholders. I could not be more proud of our company or more grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with so many incredible people since joining Walgreens over 35 years ago, and I am committed to doing my best to achieve the smoothest possible leadership transition.”
Said Skinner, “Greg Wasson has been an excellent, visionary CEO, and the personification of Walgreens best qualities since he joined the company 35 years ago. On becoming CEO in 2009, at a challenging time for all retailers, Greg led the company through a remarkable transformation, including establishing Walgreens as a vital partner in the delivery of modern community health care to U.S. consumers and taking the company global with Alliance Boots. During his tenure, he helped the company deliver total shareholder returns exceeding the S&P 500 and generating more free cash flow over six years than in the previous 98 years combined. The company is positioned for a great future. On behalf of the board, I thank Greg for all he has done for Walgreens, for his commitment to seeing us through the Alliance Boots close and for his dedication to always putting the company first.”
Pessina said, “The completion of the merger between Walgreens and Alliance Boots and the establishment of the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise, are a fitting tribute to Greg’s exceptional leadership and legacy at Walgreens. Through his strategic vision, Greg has done more than transform an iconic company – he has truly helped to change an entire industry for generations to come. I look forward to working with James Skinner and all the leaders of the future enterprise when we launch the combined group.”
Wasson joined Walgreens in 1980 as a pharmacy intern while still at Purdue University’s School of Pharmacy. Over several years, he moved from managing pharmacies in Houston to become regional vice president of store operations. From there he took on various executive roles in the Walgreens Health Initiatives division, leading to his promotion to chief operating officer and ultimately to chief executive officer. On becoming CEO, Wasson focused immediately on tackling retail pharmacy’s challenges, from the severe economic recession, to the rapid commoditization of retail consumer sales and pharmacy services, to rising drug prices and mounting reimbursement pressures. He launched “Walgreens Plan to Win,” a blueprint designed to revive and reinvent Walgreens for the new era. “Plan to Win” transitioned the company from a program of rapid organic store openings to a strategy leveraging core businesses to improve the customer experience and return the company to strong double-digit earnings growth and top-tier shareholder returns. The company crystallized around three strategic growth drivers: creating a Well Experience, advancing the role of community pharmacy in health care and establishing the most efficient global platform. In 2010, he led the acquisition of Duane Reade and, in 2012, identified the opportunity to begin the process of the strategic partnership with Alliance Boots.
In addition to Walgreens, Wasson is on the boards of Alliance Boots GmbH, AmerisourceBergen and Verizon.