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Despite a rocky start to the 2012 fiscal year without an Express Scripts agreement and a slight decline in revenue last year compared to the previous year, Walgreens future looks bright following the acquisition of 45% of the shares in Alliance Boots GmbH.
On Feb. 13, the two pharmacy giants held a joint analyst press conference in London to discuss successes and the future. The two companies joined forces in June 2012.
"This alliance is the key to the success of our individual companies," said Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots executive chairman. "The nature of the healthcare sector is changing throughout the globe."
Gregory Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO, said he thought the partnership had made a lot of progress. "Over the last year, we've crystalized our purpose and our vision," he said.
Walgreens reported $71.6 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2012, compared to $72.2 billion for fiscal year 2011, a 0.8% decline in revenue.
"There's no doubt 2012 was a challenging year," Wasson said.
Walgreens continues to focus on creating a "well experience," transforming the role of community pharmacy and establishing an efficient global platform, Wasson said.
"I think we are extremely confident that we have the strategy, the confidence, and the talent to make these things happen," he said.
In September 2012, Walgreens launched a new patient loyalty program, which has exceeded expectations by enrolling more than 55 million people. With a focus on customer experience and technology, Walgreens wants to become the leading "omnichannel retailer," Wasson said. "We think there's great opportunity, and we're going to continue to invest and focus in that space."
Bringing the pharmacist out from behind the counter and increasing patient interaction is something Walgreens continues to strive for.
"We are now the nation's leading single largest retail providers of vaccinations," Wasson said. "We're on track to provide more than 8.5 million immunizations this year."
Health care made up 50% of the revenue for Alliance Boots in 2012, and beauty and toiletry products made up another large portion of revenue. Boots' beauty division and its No7 brand of beauty products is a leading area that will make its way to the United States. The brand has already appeared in a Los Angeles Walgreens.
One common goal between Walgreens and Alliance Boots is expansion. Alliance operates in 25 countries, and Walgreens has more than 8,000 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico.
"With this partnership and the common ground between our businesses, I think it is not hard to see how this merger will be a success," Pessina said. "I am totally committed to this, both as a leader of Alliance Boots and as a shareholder of Walgreens."