Walgreens Boots Alliance has appointed Starbucks chief operating officer Rosalind Brewer to succeed Stefano Pessina as the group’s chief executive.

Brewer will take on the role from March 15.

Upon doing so, she will become the only black woman at the helm of a Fortune 500 company.

Rosalind Brewer

Source: Starbucks

Pessina will move into the role of executive chair at Walgreens Boots Alliance, a shift that the pharmacy giant revealed last year.

Pessina has been chief executive for six years following the merger of Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014.

During his tenure, he transformed the businesses into a global leader in pharmacy, health and wellness.

Walgreens Boots Alliance said Brewer would bring “a proven track record of leadership and operational expertise at multinational corporations, with deep experience in strategic development, marketing, digital transformation and loyalty, innovation and technology, supply chain and store development”.

In her current role at Starbucks, where she will remain until February, Brewer has been a central figure in its growth strategy and global expansion.

Before joining Starbucks, she was president and chief executive of Walmart’s members-only Sam’s Club division between 2012 and 2017. She was the first African-American woman – and the first woman – to lead a Walmart division.

Brewer said: “WBA is a world-class and trusted organisation whose purpose I deeply admire. The healthcare industry is constantly evolving and I am excited to work alongside the entire WBA team as we deliver further innovation and positively impact the lives of millions of people around the world every day. This is especially true today as the company plays a crucial role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Pessina added: “The board conducted an extensive search to identify an exceptional leader who will build on WBA’s track record of success and take advantage of the many growth opportunities in many markets across the company. We are excited to have found that person in Roz.

“She is a distinguished and experienced executive who has led organizations globally through periods of changing consumer behaviour by applying innovation that elevates customer experiences – ultimately driving significant and sustainable growth and value creation. Her relentless focus on the customer, talent development, operational rigour and strong expertise in digital and technological transformation are exactly what WBA needs as the company enters its next chapter.”

Be Inspired: starting the year right

Anna Teal, Walgreen Boots Alliance vice president and business development director of global brands, is among the speakers at Be Inspired’s event ’Starting the year right: Setting goals and staying motivated’. Find out more about the event, watch live today at 10.30am or on-demand, here.

The 2021 Be Inspired programme is our most ambitious and groundbreaking to date. We pledge to break down barriers and drive inclusivity in retail through a rolling programme of free to attend virtual workshops, mentoring events, online content and a dedicated conference in June.