Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer has stepped down from her position, with her departure described as a mutual agreement. The company has not provided specific details about the decision, which comes just weeks after the planned departure of former CFO James Kehoe. Brewer’s exit leaves two top positions vacant at Walgreens as the company continues its shift towards a focus on health services. Analysts suggest that the search for a new CEO or CFO should prioritize candidates with healthcare backgrounds, given the company’s healthcare-centric transformation. The move may have surprised some, but it aligns with Walgreens’ growing health portfolio.
Prior to leading Walgreens, Brewer served as the COO of Starbucks from 2017-2021 and the president and CEO of Sam’s Club from 2012-2021. During her time at Walgreens, she oversaw the company’s transformation into a provider of various healthcare services, including the acquisition of a majority stake in VillageMD and the establishment of a clinical trials service. However, like its competitors, Walgreens has faced challenges with declining COVID-related demand and finding ways to increase prescription fill and customer foot traffic. The news of Brewer’s departure was unexpected, as she had just completed a leadership meeting without indicating any plans to leave. The announcement had a negative impact on Walgreens’ stock, which fell nearly 7%.
In a statement on LinkedIn, Brewer expressed gratitude for her team and indicated that she will continue to advise the board during the search for a new CEO with healthcare expertise. She acknowledged that the decision was difficult and was made considering what is best for shareholders, customers, patients, and her family. The departure adds to the uncertainty around Walgreens’ leadership, raising investor concerns. However, analysts believe that finding leaders with extensive healthcare backgrounds will better align with the company’s focus on healthcare services and its efforts to offset profit challenges.