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… Walgreens appoints retail pharmacy and grocery executive John Standley as president …

New president is former Rite Aid CEO John Standley

John G. Baresky

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA) has selected John Standley as president of Walgreens. Standley will be responsible for all of the pharmacy giant’s store operations in the United States. He will move into the role presently held by Alex Gourlay; Gourlay will resume his duties as co-chief operating officer role at Walgreens Boots Alliance. Gourlay was filling in as president following former Walgreens’ president Richard Ashworth leaving the company in May 2020.

Standley is deeply familiar with the U.S. retail pharmacy business

A graduate of Malibu, California’s Pepperdine University, Standley has significant experience in the chain drugstore and grocery store sectors. It includes two major mergers when he was with Rite Aid, one involving Walgreens pus another with grocery giant Albertsons (NYSE: ACI). Each fell through largely due to the financial volatility and debt load of Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD).

His background spans executive roles at Arthur Andersen, Fleming Corporation, Fred Meyer, Pathmark, Ralph’s, Rite Aid, Smith’s Food and Drug, and Smitty’s SuperValu. Having spent most of his career in grocery and pharmacy, Standley is well-versed in retail’s battles with online giant Amazon as well as the fierce competition between Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Albertsons and Ahold for consumer dollars.

2020 is a year of corporate transformation at Walgreens spanning the launch of new services, major strategic partnerships and senior executive leadership changes

Walgreens has several new major initiatives underway including a new partnership with VillageMD, delivery services with DoorDash and Postmates, collaborations with Kroger, McKesson, Microsoft and Prime Therapeutics, a $1 billion IT outsourcing deal with TATA Consultancy and potentially a move to go private presumably with help from KKR.

The company has made a number of new strategic leadership moves as well including the hiring of chief medical officer Dr. Kevin Ban, and Richard Ashworth, president of Walgreen Co. Several months following his promotion to president of Walgreen Co., Ashworth exited Walgreens to join Tivity Health as its new president and CEO.

Another series of executive leadership moves at Walgreens Boots Alliance includes CEO Stefano Pessina’s announcement to step down as CEO and become the executive chairman of the board once a new CEO is appointed. When Pessina formally takes on the executive chairman of the board role, James Skinner is planning on stepping down from the executive chairman role and will continue to be a board member.

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