Lupin 2023

Alex Gourlay appointed as executive chair of Holland & Barrett

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NUNEATON, England — Former Walgreens executive Alex Gourlay has been appointed executive chair of Holland & Barrett, a leading wellness business and one of the largest in Europe.  Gourlay, who retired in 2021 as co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, played a pivotal role in the transformation of the company and its flagship Walgreens drug chain.

alex gourlay

Alex Gourlay

He assumes the role from Michael Casey, executive chair since September 2021 and a non-executive Board member since 2017.  Casey has overseen a vital transformation of the business and leaves H&B well-placed to be the trusted partner to help millions of people around the world achieve their personal health and wellness goals. Casey will remain as a non-executive Board member and will return to LetterOne to create and lead a new business unit for making impact investments.

Gourlay – who announced his intention to join the LetterOne board in December 2022 – joins with an outstanding pedigree in retail and health. A qualified pharmacist, until May 2021 he was the executive vice president and co-chief operating officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, a global integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail leader approximately 13,000 stores and 300,000 colleagues across USA, Europe and Latin America. After becoming Walgreens president in December 2014 and then co-chief operating officer of WBA, Gourlay helped lay the foundation for the ongoing metamorphosis of the drug chain. Leveraging Pessina’s partnership strategy — “he was the architect, I was one of the builders” — Gourlay oversaw the introduction of services provided by LabCorp and Fed­Ex, and, in a limited number of locations, groceries curated by Kroger Co. In addition, during Gourlay’s tenure, Walgreens set about modernizing the technology it uses to operate its business — moving to new pharmacy and front-end systems, enhancing its digital and omnichannel capabilities, launching a new loyalty program, and sharpening its front-end presentation and assortment, including the incorporation of No7 and other beauty brands made by WBA into the merchandise mix.

Following the recent successful refinancing by LetterOne, its most successful Christmas trading for the past six years in 2022, and the work Casey and the talented board and executive team have developed on vision, purpose and strategy, Holland & Barrett is exceptionally well-positioned for future growth. His priority will be to deliver the current plan to help H&B realise its potential to grow and support customers to make health and wellness a way of life for everyone at a time when health is so vitally important.

LetterOne remains fully committed to the development and growth of the business and its long-term vision.

“I’ve been privileged to be involved in H&B for over 5 years. I’m proud to have been a small part of its 150-year history helping people lead happier, healthier lives. I am very grateful to my team and all of H&B’s colleagues who have worked tirelessly to support millions of customers through the pandemic while also undergoing a technology-led transformation to support each customer’s personal wellness journeys.  H&B is a business with strong growth momentum, having just achieved its best Christmas trading period ever.  I have every confidence the team will go from strength to strength under Alex’s proven leadership,” said Casey.

On joining the business, Gourlay said : “I have always had huge respect for H&B. It is a much-loved UK institution playing a vital role for health and wellness on an international scale.  The opportunity to help it through its next stage of transformation is genuinely exciting. Michael and the team have done a fantastic job positioning the business for a bright future. I thank them for that and am fully committed to taking their work forward successfully.”

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