Boots boss Sebastian James, who has been running the company for the last six years, will leave in November. 

Seb James 2

Seb James is quitting the health and beauty retailer

James has reportedly accepted a job as the group chief executive of Veonet, one of Europe’s largest ophthalmology firms, according to Sky News.

Veonet is owned by the private equity firm PAI Partners and Canada’s Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, and operates SpaMedica in the UK, an eye surgery business which performs eye operations, such as cataract removals, on behalf of the NHS. 

James is expected to join the firm in November, shortly after his departure from Boots. 

The news comes as plans to adjust Boots’ ownership structure stall for a second time in two years, as it emerged that owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has decided against a sale or stock market floatation for the retailer. 

James has been at the helm of Boots since 2018, in which time its market share has grown over 13 successive quarters.

In its most recent results, the health and beauty retailer’s total UK sales grew 1.6% while comparable retail sales grew 6% on a constant currency basis. 

WBA is understood to have not yet lined up a successor for James’ departure, which will come during Boots 175th anniversary year. 

James recently backed Labour leader Kier Starmer, hitting the headlines for the endorsement given his connections to fellow Etonian and Bullingdon Club members David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

Before joining Boots, James was group CEO of Dixons Carphone between 2014 and 2018 after Dixons Retail Group and Carphone Warehouse were joined in a £3.8bn “merger of equals”.

Before becoming group CEO of Dixons Carphone, James held several roles at Dixons Retail Group. He joined the company in 2008, before becoming CEO four years later.