Stefano Pessina: Heading Walgreens Boots Alliance

Stefano Pessina: Heading Walgreens Boots Alliance

Purnima Narang || The CEO Magazine

Heading the world’s largest drugstore chain, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Stefano Pessina holds a crucial position in the industry. The Italian-born billionaire businessman holds the responsibilities of being the vice-chairman and CE (Chief Executive Officer) along with the largest single shareholder of Walgreens Boots Alliance. The visionary has been leading the brand towards excellence with his strategies. He has bought over 1,500 rival companies across Europe, merged his UniChem Group with Alliance Boots and took it private in a $22 billion deal.

stefano pessina

Born in Pescara, the visionary grew up between Milan, Como and Naples. Pessina graduated from the Polytechnic University of Milan in nuclear engineering and started his career in academia. He later joining market research firm ACNielsen in Milan. Pessina married his partner in 1985 Ornella Barra who is also the Co-Chief Operating Officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance. Pessina divorced and has two adult children.

A driving force behind the merger of Walgreens and Alliance Boots, leading the brand to become the largest retail pharmacy, health and daily living destination across the U.S. and Europe. The global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise has a presence in more than 25* countries and employs more than 440,000* people with its equity method investments.

Pessino took over his family’s pharmaceutical wholesaler in Naples and remodelling it into a Franco-Italian pharmaceutical wholesale group, Alliance Santé. Later the company merged with Alliance UniChem in 1997. He served as the CEO from 2001 to 2004 and later as deputy chairman, and as chairman.

In 2006, the company merged with Boots Group PLC was taken private in July 2007. Being the Executive Deputy Chairman of Alliance UniChem, Stefano led the company’s merger with Boots Group PLC in 2006. The following year, he also oversaw the acquisition of Alliance Boots by AB Acquisitions. The acquisition with the company jointly backed by Stefano and the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts led the brand’s growth as it took the group private.

He remained as the chairman of Alliance Boots from 2007 to 2014 and currently serves as Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He holds the position of director of Walgreens Boots Alliance along with being the director of the Consumer Goods Forum.

Transforming healthcare, Stefano took a crucial step towards achieving his vision. The brand Walgreens Boots Alliance was created on December 31 2014. The novel global enterprise includes the world’s largest drugstore chain in the U.S., Walgreens; the market leader in European retail pharmacy, Boots and a leading international wholesaler and distributor, Alliance Healthcare.

Stefano’s strategic vision enabled the brand to expand further and faster to enhance its position as an international leader in the healthcare services and beauty industries.

Stefano’s worked towards his vision to create one of the largest global pharmaceutical wholesaler and distribution networks with over 400 distribution centres delivering to more than 240,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centres and hospitals each year in 20 countries.

The brand is one of the world’s largest purchasers of prescription drugs and many other health and wellbeing products and has worked with various companies to benefit from greater scale and global opportunities while working together on programmes to improve service levels and efficiencies.

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