Standley gives Walgreens right leader at right time

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) at the end of last month announced the appointment of John Standley as president of Walgreens. He will head up all Walgreens operations, and will have responsibility for the development, growth and management of the business as the company continues to build on its leadership in the rapidly evolving health care sector.

Standley has an extensive background in pharmacy, retail and health care, and he brings a vast knowledge of operational experience to his role to further deliver on the company’s four key strategic priorities: creating neighborhood health destinations, driving cost transformation, accelerating digitalization and restructuring Walgreens retail offering. He will report to Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of WBA.

Previously, he served as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Rite Aid Corp. after a long career with the company in various leadership roles. Prior to Rite Aid, he was the CEO of Pathmark Stores Inc., and he has held leadership roles in several other grocery and retail companies. Standley is also a former chair of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

“John’s leadership experience and strong understanding of our industry and the U.S. health care markets will allow him to hit the ground running, drive our transformation and fulfill our purpose to help people lead healthier and happier lives across America,” said Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of WBA. “Walgreens’ essential role in the health care delivery system and in the lives of millions of Americans has never been more important as we continue to work our way through the pandemic together. I’m confident John will build on and grow our momentum at Walgreens, and help us compete and win even more in the ­marketplace.”

Gourlay, who has served as president of Walgreens on an interim basis, will continue in his role as co-COO of WBA, overseeing the strategic direction and coordination of the company’s U.S. ­operations.

“This is really quite a unique role when you consider the level of understanding that’s required in pharmacy and retail, as well as the ambitious agenda that we’ve set for ourselves,” Gourlay said. “We’re fortunate to get someone who has that level of experience, understanding and scope to run this fantastic brand and ­business.

“All of the senior people at WBA, very much including myself, were convinced that he is the right leader for the Walgreens business at this point. We wouldn’t have taken a risk with someone who wasn’t fully qualified, given the level of change in the marketplace and transformation that we’re driving inside the company, particularly in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Standley said  he is eager to pick up where his predecessor, Richard Ashworth (who resigned in May to become CEO of Tivity Health) left off.

“I’m very excited to join the team and lead the iconic Wal­greens brand,” said Standley. “I’m looking forward to accelerating execution of the strategic vision for the future of Walgreens. My top priorities will be meeting and exceeding the needs of our customers, patients, team members and the communities we serve during these challenging times, and ensuring that Walgreens fulfills its full potential as one of America’s most admired and trusted ­companies.”

“I know how to operate in an environment where the business faces capital and cost constraints,” he recalls about his years at Pathmark and Rite Aid.


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