Walgreens to Name Starbucks Executive Roz Brewer as CEO


Walgreens

WBA 2.86%

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 CEO

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.

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

Sams Club division.

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 company leaders.

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 billion.

Stefano Pessina visited a Walgreens in Deerfield, Ill., in March 2019.



Photo:

LUCY HEWETT FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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 Alliance Boots.

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.

Write to Dana Mattioli at dana.mattioli@wsj.com and Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com

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