Andy Hornby has quit as CEO of health & beauty giant Alliance Boots, it has been announced.
Boots said in a statement today that the search for a replacement has begun after Hornby resigned from the board with immediate effect.
The departing boss commented: “After an intense last five years as CEO of two major companies, I have decided to take a few months break and, having discussed it with the board of Alliance Boots, to stand down from my post as Group CEO.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the last couple of years at Alliance Boots during which time the company has performed very well.
“I am confident that Alliance Boots will continue to go from strength to strength under the leadership of Stefano Pessina and the executive team.”
Executive Chairman Pessina thanked Hornby for his contribution to the group, praising his “wealth of retail and marketing experience and excellent communication skills”.
Alliance Boots saw health & beauty revenue increase two per cent year-on-year to £3,637 million in the half-year to September 30th 2010, with Boots UK seeing like-for-like sales grow by 1.8 per cent during that time.
It is one of the few retailers in the UK to experience a strong Christmas trading period in 2010, symptomatic of the good work achieved by Hornby and his team in recent years.
The UK health & beauty sector is a changing retail landscape though, and today’s announcement coincides with the opening of sector rival Superdrug’s first new concept store in Wimbledon.
Talking to Retail Gazette yesterday, Superdrug Commercial Director Steve Jebson said that he hoped the new look shops, which are segmented into new product zones and allow customers to try out certain items before they buy, will encourage more consumers into its high street outlets.
It is likely that Jebson and his team will now be looking to capitalise on the inevitable period of leadership uncertainty that will arise from today’s shock announcement from Boots.