Walgreens Chief Digital Officer and CIO Abhi Dhar is leaving the company in March to form an online marketing startup. The unnamed startup will provide “a marketing platform for retail locations to interact with qualified local consumers through easy and elegant experiences,” according to Dhar’s LinkedIn profile.
Dhar will serve as CEO of the startup, and is currently raising a seed funding round to launch it in two Illinois markets this year.
Upon joining Walgreens as CTO of digital and head of mobile solutions in 2009, Dhar helped spearhead a platform strategy around the company's mobile app, which more than one million consumers use daily to manage and pay for their medications, print photos and earn points toward future purchases. In 2014, he was promoted to Senior VP and CIO after the company merged with Alliance Boots in late 2014.
Walgreens has not named a replacement to fill either of Dhar’s present roles.
Dhar’s exit isn’t timely for the Walgreens brand, particularly since it is still fighting for regulatory approval to complete a merger with Rite Aid. Walgreens and Rite Aid agreed to extend their merger deadline to July 31, 2017 to allow additional time to obtain regulatory approval; the previous deadline was Jan. 27.