As other retailers edge their way into healthcare, legacy retailers in the space also are looking to expand their business in new directions to remain competitive (and profitable). To that end, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has accelerated its plans to take full ownership of medical services provider Shields Health Solutions.
After increasing its stake in the company to 70% a year ago, WBA now plans to acquire the remaining 30% stake from other equity holders for approximately $1.37 billion in a transaction expected to close by the end of this year.
Shields is a health system-owned specialty pharmacy integrator and already works with nearly 80 health system partners that represent approximately 1,000 hospitals across the U.S. The company will continue to operate as a distinct business and brand within WBA after the acquisition.
John Lucey, Co-founder and current President of Shields, will now lead the company as CEO. Current Shields CEO Lee Cooper will take on a larger role within WBA as EVP of Walgreens Pharmacy beginning Oct. 1, 2022. Before taking on the CEO role at Shields, Cooper also served as President and CEO of GE Healthcare.
Walgreens’ President John Standley is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities, and his segment will now be divided into two roles: Cooper will head the Pharmacy group and Tracey Brown will serve as President of Walgreens Retail Products and Chief Customer Officer. Both Cooper and Brown will report directly to WBA CEO Roz Brewer.
“Lee has demonstrated proven success in driving business growth, creating omnichannel customer experiences and building high-performance cultures, and will partner very closely with Tracey, who has made major strides for our company since joining just over a year ago,” said Brewer in a statement. “We are confident that we have the right leadership in place to advance our strategic priorities and be the leading partner in reimagining healthcare.”
Shields will play a critical role in that reimagination, not least because of its strong financial performance. In the first nine months of fiscal 2022, the company saw pro forma sales growth of 57%. “Our full acquisition of Shields will complete another major milestone as part of our consumer-centric healthcare strategy to drive sustainable long-term growth, and we are very pleased with our partnership and integration with Shields,” said Brewer. “We can now make further progress on our strategy through Shields’ integrated model, increasing our value to health systems, expanding access to payor partners and supporting improved outcomes and lower costs.”