Walgreens is America's largest drugstore chain by revenues, and also now the leader by store outlets, as a result of a series of regional acquisitions, including the famous Duane Reade drugstore chain in New York, added in 2010. (Competitor CVS Health is bigger by total revenues because of its large pharmacy benefits management division). Walgreens has come to position itself as the "front line" for the delivery of healthcare services in the US, with an expanding networking of in-pharmacy and worksite healthcare clinics, offering diagnosis and treatment for minor ailments. However it also sells a broad range of non-healthcare products, giving it a growing presence in the convenience store segment. In 2012, the group made a big jump into Europe, agreeing to acquire an initial 45% stake in local retailer and wholesaler Alliance Boots. It bought out the remaining shares slightly earlier than expected, at the very end of 2014. Boots also contributed a collection of highly regarded private label health and beauty products including No 7, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle and Botanics, now sold globally. A year later, the group unveiled a $17.2bn bid for US rival Rite Aid. However, that outright acquisition was abandoned 18 months later after protracted and fruitless negotiations with regulators. Instead, Walgreens bought out a large number of the rival chain's stores, lifting its own footprint to almost 9,300 stores across the US. It has another 4,600 stores internationally, mostly under the Boots banner. In 2018 the group secured its relationship with US wholesaler AmerisourceBergen by acquiring a 27% stake in that business. Combined revenues for the year to Aug 2019 were $136.9bn with net income of $4.0bn. US pharmacy retail - the Walgreens and Duane Reade business - accounted for almost $105bn, compared to $11.5bn from Boots pharmacies in the UK and elsewhere and $23bn from wholesale, mainly Alliance. The acquisition of the much smaller Boots Alliance has proved a spectacular victory for that company's former controlling shareholder Stefano Pessina, who has risen to CEO of the merged company, as well as its largest shareholder with a 16% stake. He brought with him most of his management team, who now inhabit many of the group's senior roles. In late 2019, the group was revealed to have held talks with investment firm KKR to go private in what would be the largest ever leveraged buyout if it goes ahead.
Capsule checked 11th December 2019
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Historical profile information for Walgreens Boots Alliance
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jul 2020: Stefano Pessina said he will step down as CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance as soon as a successor can be selected. However the 79-year-old, who is also the company's largest shareholder, will assume instead the role of executive chairman, taking over that position from James Skinner. The latter will remain a member of the WBA board.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jul 2020: Walgreens announced plans to roll out a national chain of full-service physician-led medical clinics in a joint venture with healthcare provider VillageMD. Up to 700 primary care clinics are planned by 2025, operating under the banner of Village Medical at Walgreens. More than half will be located in areas which are currently acknowledged by the US Dept of Health & Human Services to be medically under-served. "These clinics at our conveniently located stores are a significant step forward in creating the pharmacy of the future," said WBA CEO Staefano Pessina, "meeting many essential health needs all under one roof as well as through other channels."
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Nov 2018: Pharmacy giant Walgreens Boots Alliance is in talks to establish a strategic partnership with the US health insurer Humana that is likely to involve an equity swap and the roll-out of further primary care clinics in Walgreens outlets. Humana-operated clinics began testing in two Walgreens stores in Kansas City earlier this year. The talks are a response to moves by Amazon into pharmacy services, and the similarly defensive proposed takeover by Walgreens' rival CVS of Aetna.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jun 2018: After more than a century as one of America's most admired companies, and for the several years in the early 2000s the single biggest by value, General Electric will be ejected from the Dow Jones Industrial Average next week and replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance. GE still has a higher market cap than Walgreens, but its flagging performance and steep downward curve persuaded the the compilers of the index at S&P Dow Jones Indices that it was no longer sufficiently representative of the state of the US economy and of the stock market. It's a purely symbolic blow to GE but no more damaging than that. Most market-watchers reacted with bemusement, especially to the selection of Walgreens as GE's replacement. Although it increases the DJIA's weighting towards consumer staples, a traditional bricks and mortar retailer is hardly symbolic of the current state of the market compared to, for example, Amazon, or Facebook or Google parent Alphabet.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Feb 2018: In another dramatic move towards consolidation in the US healthcare industry, Walgreens Boots Alliance was revealed to have made an approach to acquire drug distributor AmerisourceBergen, in which it already holds a 26% stake. Any such deal would be worth in excess of $20bn. However, it would make considerable sense for Walgreens, which is already Amerisource's biggest customer, accounting for around 30% of its revenues.
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