The next Boots chief must like foreign deals

ALLIANCE BOOTS is on the hunt for a new chief executive to make international deals after Andy Hornby suddenly stepped down on Friday, a source close to the pharmaceutical and beauty group said yesterday.

Executive chairman Stafano Pessina, viewed as the driving force behind Boots, is understood to be chasing new contracts in China and wants a chief that is happy to spend life on the road.

Hornby, who was in charge at HBOS when the bank was bailed out in 2008, resigned last week saying he needed a break after less than two years in the top job. “The job is relentless,” a friend said.

The firm has not yet hired headhunters to look for an external candidate. Company policy requires Boots to also look at internal candidates, with the division heads seen as favourites.

Head of health and beauty Alex Gourlay and pharmaceutical chief Ornella Barra will look after day-to-day operations while a permanent successor is found.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said of the search for Hornby’s successor: “Boots is a relatively complex corporate animal… [it] therefore needs a chief executive that can pull all these levers as well as working with some strong characters.”