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Sebastian James to leave Walgreens Boots Alliance

Sebastian James, who has run Boots since 2018, will stay in the role until November; he will run Veonet eye clinics, per reports.
sebastian james

Sebastian James, managing director at Boots, is leaving his role at Walgreens to pursue another role in the healthcare sector, per a report in Market Watch.

His departure comes after a stalled plan for the sale or stock market listing of the chain Boots, the British health and beauty arm of retail giant Walgreens Boots Alliance.

James, who has run Boots since 2018, will remain in the role until November before assuming a new position, Reuters reported.

James will reportedly become CEO of Veonet eye clinics, per a report in The Times.

[Read more: What does the future of health care and pharmacy at Walgreens look like?]

Sky News first reported James’ exit.

During an earnings call, Walgreens said it plans to close a “significant number” of its underperforming U.S. retail locations amid what it described as an extremely challenging operating environment. The retailer also stated that it had no plans to sell Boots, having decided to continue to invest in the brand.

A Walgreens spokesperson provided Drug Store News with a statement, which reads:

"Walgreens Boots Alliance confirms that the Managing Director of Boots, Sebastian James, has given notice to leave the company to pursue a new role in the healthcare sector. Alongside Ornella Barra and the Boots senior leadership team, Seb has led the successful transformation of the Boots business into the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer. The business has delivered thirteen consecutive quarters of retail market share growth, most recently announcing strong Q3 results in June with growth across all categories."

"Since his appointment in 2018, Seb has contributed to reinventing the Boots beauty business, bringing in hundreds of new brands, re-fitting beauty halls up and down the UK and employing more specialist beauty advisors. Under his leadership, Boots has expanded its role as the UK’s largest pharmacy to become a leading healthcare business, now offering over 160 healthcare services for both private and NHS patients." 

“On behalf of all colleagues at WBA and Boots, I would like to thank Seb for his role in the success of the business over the past years. His tenure has seen the company transform through a steadfast focus on investment, innovation and growth into the No.1 health and beauty destination in the UK. We thank Sebastian for his commitment – together with the Boots leadership team – to delivering a strong platform for success and sustainable, long-term growth, and wish him all the best for his next endeavour,” Ornella Barra, chief operating officer, International at Walgreens Boots Alliance, said. 

“It has been a pleasure to lead this fantastic company and support its transformation during my time as Managing Director. Now in its 175th year, Boots has shaped how people access health and beauty products on the high street and I am proud to have been part of a business that continues to hold a critical role at the centre of the UK health and beauty sectors. I look forward to seeing the business continue to succeed under its excellent leadership team,” James said.  

"Sebastian will continue with the company until November, with the business having commenced the process to recruit a Managing Director of Boots," the statement concluded.

This story has been updated.

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