Walgreens has all the pieces in place to really advance retail pharmacy and retailing into the future

By November, Walgreens will have completed fine-tuning its management structure for maximum effectiveness in realizing its three-pronged strategy. That strategy includes improving the front-end experience through retail theater. It includes establishing the pharmacist as the go-to source for healthcare, not just for the patient but for the payer, too. And it includes creating an unrivaled global economy of scale. 

Now with all of the pieces in place, Walgreens has shown it has both a knack for creating the optimal retail health experience and identifying the corporate talent who possess a proven track record of transforming good ideas into better realities.  

To recap, Walgreens tapped strategic partner Alliance Boots for Alex Gourlay, who as of Oct. 1 was named Walgreens EVP, president of customer experience and daily living. Together with Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management and Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness, you have a trifecta of top-notch talent who have been successfully redefining the retail pharmacy experience today. 

Tomorrow can only be better. 

Bryan Pugh had been named corporate VP of U.S. merchandising program development and execution. Reporting to Wagner, Pugh is the bridge between Walgreens' merchandising and operations teams. He will oversee rollout of new merchandising initiatives to the field, including operating standards, cross-functional deployment and flagship rollout.

Shannon Curtin, Robert Tompkins and Moe Alkemade are the three general merchandising managers contributing to Walgreens' front-end experience across beauty, health and wellness and seasonal, general merchandise and consumables, respecively. Alkemade was one of the architects behind Walgreens' private label strategies. 

Linda Severin, formerly of Kroger, where she led the redevelopment of its private brand portfolio, in October joined Walgreens as divisional VP of private brands and is now responsible for the product development, brand management and program execution of Walgreens private brands. 

Throw in Walgreens' focus on omnichannel retailing and you have a culture of executives who aren't afraid to try new initiatives. "Everything we do for the customer, we are thinking about how to bring a digital experience along the way," commented Greg Wasson at the recent Shop.org Annual Summit 2013. "I'm the chief road-block remover and doubt remover. When you're a brick-and-mortar organization, that's my No. 1 responsibility."

There should be no doubt, however, that this team will realize many successes in the years to come.

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