Walgreen's prescription for world domination relies on acquisitions at home and abroad. The nation's #1 drugstore chain operates some 8,300 mostly freestanding Walgreens stores in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Prescription drugs account for about two-thirds of sales; the rest comes from general merchandise, over-the-counter medications, cosmetics, and groceries. Most Walgreens stores offer drive-through pharmacies and one-hour photo processing. After years of at-home acquisitions and nibbles in Europe, in 2014 the company fully acquired the Swiss-based
Walgreens Boots Alliance
, of which it is a subsidiary.
Change in Company Type
On the last day of 2014, Walgreen took full ownership of European drugstore chain
for more than $15 billion in cash and stock. The deal created a network of nearly 13,000 stores across two dozen countries, with Walgreen Co. becoming a subsidiary of newly formed
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Walgreen's drugstores specialize in the retail sale of prescription and non-prescription drugs and general merchandise. General merchandise includes convenience and fresh foods, household items, personal care, beauty care, photofinishing and candy. Pescription drugs represent nearly 65% of total sales, general merchandise represented more than 25% of total sales, and non-prescription drugs represented another 10% of total sales.
Walgreen's online outlets include: Walgreens.com, Beauty.com, drugstore.com, SkinStore.com, and VisionDirect.com. The company also operates more than 400 Healthcare Clinic and provider practice retail offices around the country.
Walgreens operates 8,300 locations across the US, the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Fiscal 2014 (ends August) was a milestone year for Walgreen, which posted record-setting revenues of nearly $76.4 billion. The historic growth for 2014 was due to new store sales and an increase in comparable drugstore sales over the prior year. Sales were also positively impacted by Walgreen's decision to rejoin the
pharmacy provider network and its acquisition of USA Drug and
, both of which were partially offset by lower comparable store sales.
Its profits, however, slipped 21% from $2.5 billion in 2013 to $1.9 billion in 2014 due to higher income tax provisions and other expenses. In addition, Walgreen's operating cash flow also declined from lower earnings.
In order to continue its growth trajectory, Walgreen has been working to cut costs, form partnerships, and utilize acquisitions. In early 2015, the company sold its Walgreens Infusion Services business, which provides non-hospital infusion services, to private-equity firm
Madison Dearborn Partners
. In 2014, Walgreen sold a majority stake in its Take Care Employer Solutions (TCES) subsidiary, which manages more than 360 worksite health centers, to a healthcare-focused investment group Water Street Healthcare Partners.
In 2013, Walgreens and Alliance Boots formed a partnership with pharmaceutical wholesaler
to buy branded and generic prescription drugs from the supplier for the next 10 years. Walgreen and Alliance Boots also gained rights to purchase a minority stake in AmerisourceBergen and the three partners will collaborate on supply chain opportunities.
It's also been working to expand its in-house medical Healthcare Clinic retail locations to diversify its revenue streams. In late 2014, the company expanded its Healthcare Clinics into the Dallas-Fort Worth market, bringing 13 offices to the area for the first time.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In late 2013, looking to strengthen its presence in the fast-growing North Carolina market, Walgreen acquired regional chain drug operator
. The transaction, which included Kerr Drug's 76 retail drugstores, its specialty pharmacy business, and a distribution center, excluded Kerr Drug's long-term care pharmacy business.
In its biggest acquisition ever, the pharmacy chain in 2012 bought a 45% stake in Swiss-based drugstore-chain company
for $6.7 billion. Alliance Boots has more than 3,330 health and beauty retail stores in 11 countries; its pharmaceutical wholesale businesses cater to pharmacies, doctors, and hospitals from some 370 distribution centers in 21 countries. In 2014 Walgreen bought the remaining 55% stake.
Closer to home, Walgreen in September 2012 acquired $825-million-in-sales
Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings
, a regional drugstore operator with 144 stores under the USA Drug, Super D Drug, May's Drug, and Drug Warehouse banners, among others, in the about a half a dozen states mostly in the mid-south. Earlier in the year the company bought
's community specialty pharmacies and centralized specialty and mail service pharmacy businesses. The approximately $225 million deal was in line with Walgreen's objectives to consolidate and grow its health care and retail services.