Boots chief steps down after owner shelves sale plans again – Yahoo Finance UK

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An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

The chief executive of Boots is stepping down after the high street pharmacy chain’s US parent company once again shelved plans to sell the business.

Sebastian James, who has headed up Boots since 2018, will leave the company in November, a person familiar with the matter told City A.M.

He is understood to have accepted a new role in the healthcare sector.

An official announcement is expected in the coming days. Boots declined to comment over the weekend.

The news comes shortly after it emerged that Boots’ owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) had decided against pursuing a sale or stock market listing for the business for the second time in two years.

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“While we believe there is significant interest in this business at the right time, Boots’ growth, strategic strength and cashflow remain key contributors to Walgreens Boots Alliance,” a WBA spokesperson said last week.

“We are committed to continuing to invest in Boots UK and to find innovative ways for this business to fulfill its potential.”

It is understood that James would have been keen to run Boots as a listed company. News of his exit was first reported by Sky.

When WBA first put Boots up for sale, it struggled to find buyers willing to match its £7bn-plus price tag. In 2022, it received just one formal joint offer worth around £5.5bn from Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and US private equity giant Apollo Global Management.

Boots has closed around 300 stores over the past year, with its pharmacy business struggling on the back of government funding cuts.

However, the business has seen solid trading this year, with like-for-like sales during the quarter to the end of May rising by six per cent and 5.8 per cent across its retail and pharmacy operations respectively.

WBA last Thursday slashed its profit forecast for the full financial year, which sent the New York-listed firm’s shares tumbling 25 per cent in their biggest one-day drop since 1980.

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