Walgreens Upping 'Daily Living' Retail Game

Published in CSP Daily News

Alliance Boots exec will lead enhanced merchandising, marketing, customer experience organization

Alex Gourlay

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- In its ongoing strategy to capture consumers' everyday purchases--the traditional purview of convenience stores--Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, and Alliance Boots GmbH, a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group, have announced that Alex Gourlay, CEO of the Health & Beauty Division of Alliance Boots, has been appointed as Walgreens executive vice president and president of customer experience and daily living, effective Oct. 1.

In this new role reporting to Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson, Gourlay will lead an enhanced Walgreens Daily Living business operation overseeing customer experience, U.S. merchandising, marketing, customer insights, daily living products and promotions.

The move follows the Walgreens and Alliance Boots strategic partnership announcement in June 2012.

In June 2012, when Walgreens and Alliance Boots announced their strategic partnership, the companies highlighted the opportunity to bring together their strengths and expertise, expand their range of innovative, cost-effective products and services for patients and customers, and create an unparalleled portfolio of retail and business brands including Walgreens, Duane Reade, Boots and Alliance Healthcare. In Oct. 2012, Walgreens and Alliance Boots announced the establishment of a jointly owned company, called Walgreens Boots Alliance Development GmbH, based in Bern, Switzerland.

"Alex's move to lead the Walgreens Daily Living and Merchandising team represents another important step forward, and is a key part of our cultural integration. At Walgreens, Alex will lead a strong Daily Living business team--which is already building momentum--to further advance our vision to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond. As he gains more experience in the U.S. market, we will be better positioned than ever to accelerate our daily living journey by combining the best practices of both Walgreens and Alliance Boots," said Wasson.

As part of this initiative, Walgreens has announced an enhanced Daily Living business organization with the promotion and leadership expansion of key marketing and merchandising executives to further accelerate the company's strategic growth drivers and advance its vision "to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America, and beyond."

The promotions and other changes in Walgreens Daily Living organization are also effective Oct. 1.

"With our enhanced Daily Living and Merchandising organization, combined with Alex Gourlay's experience and expertise in global health and beauty, we are further expanding and complementing Walgreens already strong leadership team including Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management; Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness; Graham Atkinson, our chief marketing officer and the creator of our 79-million member Balance Rewards loyalty program; and Sona Chawla, president of e-commerce and our omni-channel strategy," Wasson said. "By combining the best marketing and merchandising practices of Walgreens and Alliance Boots, we are accelerating our 'Well Experience' strategy to step out of the traditional drugstore format and create a truly differentiated experience for customers and patients."

Promotions and expansion of leadership roles of Walgreens Daily Living and Merchandising executives include:

  • Bryan Pugh becomes corporate vice president of U.S. merchandising program development and execution. As Walgreens continues to hone and expand transformational merchandise programs and prepares for further joint merchandise initiatives with Alliance Boots across beauty, personal care, health and wellness, Pugh's newly created role will bridge operations and merchandising functions and oversee rollout of new merchandising initiatives to the field, including operating standards, cross-functional deployment and flagship rollout.
  • Moe Alkemade becomes group vice president of global sourcing. With his deep experience in developing and marketing consumer-packaged goods programs, Moe successfully led the restructuring and strong growth trajectory of Walgreens private brand portfolio, and established the foundation for Walgreens global sourcing capabilities. In his newly created role, Alkemade will focus on optimizing global sourcing and Daily Living buying synergies with Alliance Boots and AmerisourceBergen.
  • Shannon Curtin is promoted to group vice president and general merchandise manager, beauty. Curtin will accelerate development and growth of Walgreens beauty proposition and customer experience across the United States, particularly underserved U.S. markets, and collaborate with the Alliance Boots and global partnership teams in maximizing U.S. opportunities for the Boots beauty proposition.
  • Robert Tompkins is promoted to group vice president and general merchandise manager of health and wellness. Tompkins will accelerate development of innovative health and wellness products and programs for the United States, collaborating with Alliance Boots and global partnership teams on joint program development.
  • Jim Jensen becomes divisional vice president and general merchandise manager of seasonal and general merchandise, providing high-level, single-accountability focus on seasonal daily living products and promotions that are a key driver in Walgreens monthly daily living sales.
  • Beth Stiller is promoted to Group Vice President, Category Planning, Formats & Innovation, and takes on an expanded role in merchandising with responsibility for category development, space planning, merchandise formats and program innovation, and private brands.
  • Linda Severin, formerly of Kroger, where she led the redevelopment of its private-brand portfolio, joins Walgreens as divisional vice president for private brands, responsible for product development, brand management and program execution of Walgreens private brands.

As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2012 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens provides more than six million customers with convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. The company operates 8,105 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.