Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreen Co.'s daily living business, this week announced adjustments to marketing and merchandising duties to simplify and coordinate the retailer's strategic direction going forward.

Walgreens, Alex Gourlay, daily living business, merchandising, marketing, senior merchants, general merchandise managers, GMMs, Shannon Curtin, Robert Tompkins, Moe Alkemade, Beth Stiller, Adam Holyk, Jim Jensen, Paul Tiberio, Rachael Bishop, Graham Atkinson, Alliance Boots, Balance Rewards, drug chain

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Gourlay fine-tunes Walgreens daily living team

October 10th, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreen Co.'s daily living business, this week announced adjustments to marketing and merchandising duties to simplify and coordinate the retailer's strategic direction going forward.

Alex Gourlay

Specifically, the nation's largest drug chain has positioned three senior merchants as general merchandise managers (GMMs), each responsible for different disciplines: Shannon Curtin as GMM for beauty and fashion categories, Robert Tompkins as GMM for health and wellness, and Moe Alkemade as GMM for consumables, sundries and seasonal products.

To support these three senior executives, who will report to Gourlay, the former Alliance Boots executive has tapped five additional merchants for the Walgreens daily living operation:

• Beth Stiller, who, as previously announced, will be responsible for Walgreens' retail brands, an assignment that includes the global sourcing of those brands.

• Adam Holyk, who will oversee the retailer's loyalty data, the centerpiece of which is the 85 million-member Balance Rewards loyalty card program.

• Jim Jensen, who is charged with supervising Walgreens' daily living assortment, responsibilities that include space planning and SKU optimization for the stores' daily living offerings.

• Paul Tiberio, who, as previously announced, will implement the drug chain's merchandise customization program, an assignment that will emphasize the task of matching local offers to local populations.

• Rachael Bishop, who will oversee the business development aspects of the retailer's daily living program.

The personnel changes will become effective next month. In addition, Graham Atkinson, Walgreens' chief marketing and customer experience officer, will continue in a dual reporting relationship to president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson and Gourlay.

Most recently head of the Boots drug chain in the United Kingdom, Gourlay assumed his new role at Walgreens effective Oct. 1 and thus far is the most senior Alliance Boots executive to join Walgreens' top management team.

Gourlay comes to Deerfield as a proven retail executive, equally familiar with both merchandising and operations. If not a permanent fixture at Walgreens, his assignment there appears open-ended — and the top managers on both sides of the Atlantic carry huge expectations for his contributions to the ongoing formation of the Walgreens-Alliance Boots mega-retail organization.

For his part, Gourlay has even now formed some initial impressions about his new company and his new assignment.

"These changes haven't happened in two weeks," he said about the personnel changes. "They've been in the works since early last summer and have been planned long before that. In fact, much of the credit for the new strategic alignment belongs to Mark Wagner, our president of operations and community management. He's more familiar with the people involved than I can hope to be in so short a time. And he has an accurate feel for the strengths of each."

About his first days at Walgreens, Gourlay is decidedly optimistic. "I've been particularly impressed with the level of talent I've found here," he said. "But I'm not surprised. After all, this is a company with a history of success and innovation.

"I have been very delighted by the level of enthusiasm. These are people who clearly love what they do. They have a relentless spirit. They have a spirit of collaboration. They want to get things done. In retailing, that's an asset that's impossible to create — or replace."

Gourlay added that he has been surprised by the quality of the people throughout the Walgreens organization. "There's a clarity of focus I didn't expect," he said candidly.

With the daily living team now organized around Gourlay, the executive is preparing to settle into his new duties. Perhaps most surprising among the personnel shifts is that no new senior merchant will be named. Instead, Walgreens' senior merchants will report directly to Gourlay.