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Boots CEO Seb James steps down after six years

Sophie Smith
01 July 2024

Boots boss Sebastian James has announced plans to stand down after six years in the top job, shortly after its owner WBA dismissed plans for a sale of the high street chain.

The chief executive officer, who joined the British health and beauty retailer in 2018, will leave the business in November this year.

Sources said he has accepted a new role in the healthcare industry.

His exit from Boots comes during the Nottingham-based company's 175th year. The firm has kicked off the process to find his successor.

"It has been a pleasure to lead this fantastic company and support its transformation. Now in its 175th year, Boots has shaped how people access health and beauty products on the high street and I am proud to have been part of a business that continues to hold a critical role at the centre of the UK health and beauty sectors," said James.


Ornella Barra, International COO at Walgreens Boots Alliance, added:
"We thank Sebastian for his commitment – together with the Boots leadership team – to delivering a strong platform for success and sustainable, long-term growth, and wish him all the best for his next endeavour."

During his time at Boots, James has overseen 13 consecutive quarters of market share growth, according to the firm. But his decision to quit comes after Walgreen Boots Alliance dismissed plans last week for a multibillion-pound sale of the health and beauty retailer.

It followed the company's latest trading update, which saw its share price fall to its lowest level since 1997, as it announced plans to shut more of its underperforming US shops following a strategic review.

Boots, however, continued its "positive momentum" during the quarter, with WBA chief executive Tim Wentworth saying he will retain ownership of the retailer as he attempts to overhaul the business.

"Our review of Boots UK showed that we have attractive options to unlock value in this business," Wentworth told The Telegraph last week.

"While we believe there is significant interest in Boots at the right time, its growth, strategic strength and cash flow remain key contributors to the company. We are committed to continuing to invest in Boots UK and find innovative ways for this business to fulfil its potential."

The high street chain delivered a 6% increase in sales for the three months ending 31 May 2024, with growth across all categories.

It saw digital sales rise 13.8%, with app sales growing "significantly" in the quarter. Meanwhile, in-store sales were boosted by increased footfall in flagship, destination health and beauty and travel stores.E

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