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Alex Gourlay trumpets shared ethos between Boots and Walgreens

Business Walgreens is “absolutely aligned” with Alliance Boots in its goals for the future, Alliance Boots health and beauty chief executive Alex Gourlay has told C+D.

Walgreens is "absolutely aligned" with Alliance Boots, according to health and beauty chief executive Alex Gourlay.


Mr Gourlay had no concerns over US giant Walgreens' merger last July with Alliance Boots, because its ethos was "very similar to what we see in UK pharmacy", he told C+D in an exclusive interview on August 23.


Mr Gourlay, who will leave Alliance Boots for a senior management role at Walgreens in October, warned that both arms of the company should be open to change and avoid being "too protective" of their own strategies.


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Both companies could learn from each other, Mr Gourlay stressed. "Walgreens is investing in interesting technology and delivered business-to-business healthcare services – they've got some really good practice and good people," he said.

"But they look to us and think, that's really interesting," he explained. "I think there will be things both ways, but for sure the UK is a different market."


Mr Gourlay acknowledged that there were fears when Walgreens acquired its initial 45 per cent stake that it would simply "take over" Alliance Boots, but said there was now a better understanding of the partnership. "We were concerned [the deal] would be misinterpreted as a takeover by Walgreens, and that was never the case – it was a merger," he stressed.


Mr Gourlay said one of his main goals at Walgreens would be to replicate the "community aspect" of Boots. "That's what excites me the most," he told C+D. "The real opportunity is, how do you develop a customer experience? People love Walgreens and my job is to make them love it a bit more."


What do you think a shared ethos with Walgreens will mean for Boots pharmacists?

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7 Comments

Ranveer Bassey, Community pharmacist

Lord Blyth, the chairman of Boots in 1999, responding to competition from Walmart was quoted: "There is this view that there is this huge ogre out in Bentonville [location of Wal-Mart's headquarters] that is going to automatically transfer what it does in Sioux Falls, Iowa, to Bradford. Well, life is not like that."

Roger Poole, Other pharmacist

A pointless article. He's hardly going to knock his new employer.

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

This comment was removed as personal comments are against the ethos of this discussion forum.

Gary Paragpuri
Brand Director, C+D

Leon The Apothecary, Student

This comment was removed as personal comments are against the ethos of this discussion forum.

Gary Paragpuri
Brand Director, C+D

A Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

absolutely aligned???? what about the position on unions and staff ???oh dear.

MICHAEL PARKER, Pharmaceutical Adviser

And of course their tax avoidance schemes, must cost this country a fortune.

David Colquhoun, Other healthcare professional

What ethos? Boots will happily sell all sorts of rubbish with misleading advertising campaigns. By the time the Advertising Standards Authority has told them to stop, they just move on to another campaign. You'll find several examples here http://www.dcscience.net/?s=%22Boots+the+chemist%22

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