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Walgreens’ new chief merchant bolsters retail leadership

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreen Co., looking to add top-level merchandising experience as it prepares for the upcoming merger with Alliance Boots GmbH, has named Linda Filler as president of retail products and chief merchandising officer. She begins the new role January 1.

Linda Filler

Filler most recently was president of the North American division of Claire’s Stores Inc., a leading specialty retailer of fashionable jewelry and accessories for young women and girls. She had previously been an executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at the Sam’s Club division of Walmart.

At Walgreens, Filler will assume a newly created role and take on responsibility for the “vision, leadership, strategic direction and performance” of all Walgreens merchandising activities, according to the company’s early December announcement.

“Linda brings to Walgreens significant experience in merchandising, marketing and strategy in a variety of industries and will be a great addition to our leadership team and our retail products division,” said Alex Gourlay, currently Walgreens president of customer experience and daily living, and president-elect of Walgreen Co.

Gourlay noted that Filler has “deep experience across a broad range of product lines and strong supplier relationships” that she developed during her extensive retail career.
“Linda has the expertise to understand what our customers want and to innovate quickly to create an experience that drives loyalty and results,” he added. “She brings considerable global experience as we anticipate closing Step 2 of our strategic partnership with Alliance Boots in the first quarter of calendar 2015, and I believe our team members will appreciate her natural, collaborative leadership style.”

Walgreens president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson said the addition of Filler is another indication that the company is building a talented merchandising team to oversee products and services of the combined Walgreens-Boots company when it officially debuts early next year.

“Alex continues to build a very strong team, and with the addition of Linda, our retail products division will be well positioned to join with Alliance Boots to deliver the unique combination of products and services that will set apart our future combined company,” Wasson noted.

The changes to the merchandising organization come as Walgreens continues to expand its Well Experience initiative, which the company has said represents a move away from the traditional drug store format to a new and innovative approach to health and well-being.

Filler resigned her position at Claire’s Stores in June, just two months after the resignation of the accessories chain’s CEO.

She had joined the retailer in March 2013 after a six-year career as a top merchant at Walmart and the discounter’s Sam’s Club. Claire’s operates more than 3,000 stores in 17 countries throughout North America and Europe and franchises nearly 450 stores in 30 countries.

Filler led the “owned brand strategy” during her tenure at Sam’s, and she held executive vice president posts at both Walmart and Kraft Foods Group Inc., according to Walgreens. Earlier in her career, she held leadership posts in the Hanes Brands group of Sara Lee Corp.


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