by CIO Staff

Walgreens CIO Tim Theriault goes global in Alliance Boots takeover

Aug 07, 20143 mins
CareersIT LeadershipRetail Industry

Walgreens CIO role becomes a global position as part of its acquisition of the Alliance Boots business, that includes retailer Boots and the Alliance Boots pharmacy wholesale and distribution organisation.

Tim Theriault, chief information, innovation and improvement officer at Walgreens, will assume the role of executive vice-president and global chief information officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, the companies said today.

The Walgreens board is now asking shareholders to approve the £9 billion deal to buy the remaining 55% stake in Boots that it does not yet own. Walgreen acquired a 45% stake in Alliance Boots in June 2012.

Retailer Boots has had a succession of technology leadership changes in recent years.  Andy Haywood, who earlier this week joined online fashion retailer N Brown, began one of the most significant IT transformation projects at Boots in his tenure from 2009 to 2011 before he was head hunted by The Cooperative to become its first Group CIO. Haywood was succeeded by Jonathan Vardon who landed the transformation projects Haywood set up just as Walgreens took a major stake in Boots. Vardon was IT Director of Boots until May 2013. Vardon was recruited into Boots by Haywood, the pair having previously worked together at HBOS and Vardon rejoined Haywood at The Cooperative in 2013 to become the mutual’s CIO of digital. The subsequent financial, board and culture change issues at The Cooperative have seen the pair,  and others, depart from The Cooperative.

Anthony Robertsand Erwin van Vroenhoven took over running the Boots IT following Vardon’s move to The Cooperative. Unlike Haywood and Vardon Robert’s role was not purely focused on the Boots retail business, but as Group CIO for Alliance Boots, covering both the high street retaile and the Alliance healthcare services business. Roberts had previously been head of operations and IT at Alliance. There has been no statement about Alliance Boots’ group CIO Anthony Roberts or Boots’ director of IT Erwin van Vroenhoven. Considering the size of the organisation this role change for Theriault suggests a matrix management structure that will see Roberts and van Vroenhoven retain their roles and report to the global CIO and their country managers.

Boots has been carrying out an IT transformation programme involving rationalising and modernising its SAP IT estate.

It has a contract with Cognizant and Steria for application management and maintenance. Other providers include IBM, which is the company’s managed service provider across the UK, Ireland and international online business.

It remains to be seen how Boots’ strategy will fit in with its American owner’s plans to cut costs by $1 billion by the end of its 2017 fiscal year to “establish an efficient global enterprise”. This is part of the three-year ‘Next Chapter’ plan that the combined company also announced today.

“We are uniquely positioned to be a leader and a champion for accessible, affordable health care, and that means continuing to innovate, to find new ways to be as efficient as possible, and more agile and nimble as we compete in the worldwide market,” said Walgreens Boots Alliance president and CEO Greg Wasson in a statement.

The combined company will be the largest purchaser of prescription drugs and other health products in the world, with more than 11,000 stores in 10 countries and 370 distribution centres.

Its main headquarters will be in the Chicago area. Boots will continue to be headquartered in Nottingham, where the companies was founded by its namesake.