Neal Sample has joined Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) as its new EVP and chief information officer, effective immediately. Sample will report directly to WBA CEO Tim Wentworth and will lead the company’s IT function strategy, as well as the implementation of its technology and digital innovation.
Sample will also work toward improving the digital experience for customers and patients as Walgreens continues its next phase of growth into a customer-centric health care company.
“I am excited to welcome Neal to our executive leadership team and confident that as our CIO he will help take our IT capabilities to the next level using his strong background and experience in formulating modernization plans, implementing technology solutions, accelerating growth and redefining standards of execution excellence,” said Wentworth. “He will be a key component to achieving our goals as we build on the company’s pharmacy strength and trusted brand to evolve health care delivery.”
Sample is currently chairman of the board at Wellfield Technologies, Inc., and also chair of the board of trustees for the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis. Previously, he served as chief operating officer and CIO of Express Scripts, and also held roles at American Express, eBay and Yahoo!, among other companies.
“WBA has a powerful vision to be the leading partner in reimagining local health care and wellbeing for all,” said Sample. “I am eager and excited to continue working alongside an incredibly talented and dedicated team to advance technology and digital innovation at WBA toward our goal to be the independent partner of choice in pharmacy and health care services.”
Meanwhile, the financial health of WBA is a work in progress, as the company shared results of its fourth quarter and full fiscal year in October. While quarterly sales grew 9.2% and fiscal year sales rose 4.8% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis, earnings came in lower than expected. Adjusted net earnings were down 17.1% for the quarter and 20.5% for the year.
The tepid results come at a time of change for the company, as it expands beyond retail pharmacy and into more health and wellness services. WBA has broadened its reach with recent acquisitions in that space, investments that are affecting the short-term financials.
Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, which operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.