The future success of Walgreens Boots Alliance means maintaining pharmacy as key to more foot traffic into drugstores but weaving in technology as critical to the turnaround of this iconic drugstore chain.
Last week’s much-anticipated first quarterly earnings call for Walgreens Boots Alliance new chief executive officer Rosalind Brewer wasn’t yet the big reveal for her strategic vision of the company given she said she continues to review the global company’s businesses.
But Brewer did wet Wall Street analysts’ appetite for some idea of the strategic direction of Walgreens.
“There are tremendous opportunities in healthcare right now, and we are uniquely-positioned to capitalize on them,” Brewer told analysts during a call last week to discuss Walgreens fiscal third quarter earnings, which exceeded expectations. “One example of our next phase of growth is our previously communicated tech-enabled healthcare initiative. As we build this out further, our choices will be guided by what our customers want, as we continue to deliver solutions that meet their evolving needs, while leveraging our unique assets and capabilities in order to win.”
Analysts who follow Walgreens seemed intrigued at the early direction under Brewer, who is replacing the retiring Stefano Pessina, who is retaining his Walgreens Boots Alliance title as executive chairman and is also Walgreens largest individual shareholder. “CEO Rosalind Brewer did not provide much of an update on her strategic vision for the company, only to highlight technology will be a key focus and pharmacy will remain the central anchor of the business,” Mizuho Securities analyst Ann Hynes wrote in a report last week that followed Walgreens fiscal third quarter earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.
Brewer joins Walgreens as a highly respected executive who was hailed for turning around Starbucks where she was chief operating officer by introducing new drinks and other products while upgrading the chain’s use of technology.
MORE FOR YOU
Some see similarities in that both Starbucks and Walgreens have thousands of brick and mortar store locations and need technology to boost sales. Walgreens is the largest drugstore chain in the U.S. with more than 9,000 drugstores in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Strategically, we’ve remained committed to our previously stated priorities, to create neighborhood health destinations around a more modern pharmacy, to accelerate digital, to transform or restructure our retail offering and to drive our transformational cost improvement,” Brewer said. “We must be laser-focused on the products and services that have the most potential end value that can be enabled with the most innovative technology, and that will be delivered at a level and quality that our customers expect.”