Alliance Boots health and beauty chief executive Alex Gourlay has appointed two chief operating officers to look after the day-to-day running of the Boots UK & Ireland business while he concentrates on future growth plans.

Gourlay has promoted retail director Simon Roberts and commercial director Ken Murphy to joint chief operating officer roles.

Roberts will continue to retain responsibility for the retail and pharmacy aspects of the business and will now also oversee Boots Opticians. Murphy will continue to be responsible for the trading, brands, supply chain, commercial business development and marketing areas.

Gourlay said: “Both Simon and Ken know the business well and are very strong customer leaders and highly respected. They will strengthen the division and look after the day-to-day running of the business meaning I will have more time to focus on the future development plans for Boots and supporting the internationalisation strategy.”

The appointments mean Gourlay will can work more with Alliance Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina and chief executive of the pharmaceutical wholesale division Ornella Barra on the future plans and getting the Boots brand out wider internationally. Gourlay will retain overall responsibility for the health and beauty division.

Roberts joined Boots in 2003, and prior to that was at Marks & Spencer. Murphy joined Boots in 1995 and prior to that was at Procter & Gamble.