Walgreen Co. has named James Skinner, former chief executive officer of McDonald's, as nonexecutive chairman, succeeding Alan McNally.

Walgreens, James Skinner, Alan McNally, nonexecutive chairman, McDonald's CEO, former chief executive officer of McDonald's, Greg Wasson, Bill Foote, drug chain, Alliance Boots

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Walgreens tabs ex-McDonald's CEO as chairman

July 12th, 2012
James Skinner

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has named James Skinner, former chief executive officer of McDonald's, as nonexecutive chairman, succeeding Alan McNally.

Walgreens said Thursday that the appointment of Skinner, who has served on the drug chain's board since 2005, is part of the board's succession and rotational planning process. McNally, who has been nonexecutive chairman since 2009 and a Walgreens director since 1999, will continue serving on the company's board.

McDonald's announced in late March that Skinner would retire as CEO on June 30. He held that post at the fast-food giant, which is the world's largest food service company, since November 2004. Before that, he served in various other leadership positions for the company in the United States and globally. Skinner also serves on the board of directors of Illinois Tool Works Inc.

"Jim Skinner's long and successful record in retail and customer experience, both across the nation and around the world, will be enormously helpful at a time when Walgreens is launching with Alliance Boots the first global pharmacy-led health and well-being enterprise," Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson said in a statement.

Bill Foote, a Walgreens director and chairman of the board's nominating and governance committee, also cited Skinner's experience as an asset following Walgreens' deal to buy a 45% stake in Alliance Boots.

"As Walgreens moves forward with its strategy to become a U.S. and world leader in pharmacy-led health and well-being, Jim Skinner's long experience on the Walgreens board, and decades of global success with McDonald's in expanding to Europe and emerging markets, make him an exceptional choice to lead our board into the future on behalf of shareholders and stakeholders."

Alan McNally

McNally was the first lead director on the Walgreens board, starting in January 2008. He subsequently was named chairman and acting CEO the retirement of Jeffrey Rein as chairman and CEO in October 2008. McNally became nonexecutive chairman in 2009, the same year Wasson was appointed as CEO.

"Al's leadership on Walgreens' board has helped to move this company and our iconic brand through an historic transformation and into a new century of service, success and growth potential," Wasson stated. "I have truly benefited and appreciated his sound counsel and advice during my three-and-a-half years as CEO. The value of his service to our board is — and I know will continue to be — immeasurable."

Foote commented, "Al McNally's extraordinary leadership as our board’s first lead director and first nonexecutive chairman of the board was instrumental and indispensable as Walgreens advanced its transformation launched in 2008 to become America's most trusted and convenient provider of consumer goods and services, and pharmacy, health and wellness solutions. We are grateful that Walgreens will continue to benefit from Al's leadership and vision on the board."

In just over a year, all three of the nation's largest drug chains have changed chairmen. Rite Aid president and CEO John Standley added the chairman's title in late May, succeeding Mary Sammons, who had been Rite Aid's chairman since June 2007. He also had succeeded Sammons as CEO in June 2010.

Walgreens and CVS Caremark Corp. moved to a corporate governance structure led by a nonexecutive chairman when their current CEOs took the helm. At CVS Caremark, director David Dorman became nonexecutive chairman in May 2011 with the retirement of Tom Ryan as chairman, part of a succession plan in which Ryan handed the CEO reins to Larry Merlo in March of that year. 

When announcing Standley's appointment as chairman, Rite Aid noted that it retained the post of lead independent director, held by Michael Regan. The company said Regan will head the oversight and monitoring activities of the board that would otherwise be performed by a nonexecutive chairman.