Stefano Pessina has reiterated his desire for Britain to stay in the EU, warning a Brexit would have “a lot of negative consequences”.
The Italian-born boss of Boots owner Walgreens Boots Alliance said he hoped “everything will go in the right direction” when the June 23 vote takes place.
“There are a lot of negative consequences for everyone”
“As a business, we are neutral, but as a person of course I am a European,” Pessina told Retail Week. “I look at things with a very international look. I have lived and worked in many countries.”
The billionaire, who is also the largest shareholder in WBA, said he worried that a Brexit could “easily isolate such a fantastic country like the UK from the rest of Europe”.
He added: “There are a lot of negative consequences for everyone.”
A letter signed by Pessina and other prominent business people in February said: “We believe that leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”
His comments came as WBA revealed that Boots UK boss Simon Roberts is quitting the firm next month to “pursue other opportunities”.
Pessina said he had tried to convince Roberts to stay, but he respected his decision, which was for “personal reasons”.
Meanwhile, Pessina hit back at allegations that Boots has been boosting its profits by urging staff to abuse an NHS scheme to help sick patients.
The Guardian claimed that Boots managers had been found directing their chemists to offer medicine-use reviews (MUR) to customers who did not need them, in order to claim public money from the NHS.
However, Pessina described the characterisation of the company in the reports as “unfair”. He admitted that claims that its pharmacists are under pressure is “probably true”, but said “it’s the same for the industry”.
He added: “It’s easy to blame people and to look at the negative side of everything, but people should recognise the effort that our 370,000 people are doing to help other people to have a better life.”