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Boots has kicked off a search for a new boss to replace Sebastian James, who is leaving in November as renewed attempts by US owner Walgreens Boots Alliance to sell or float the UK high street pharmacy chain stalled once again.

James - who has led a turnaround in performance of Boots since being appointed boss in 2018 - will pursue a new role in the healthcare sector, according to a statement this morning.

The confirmation comes after Sky News reported over the weekend that James will leave Boots to run Veonet, one of Europe’s largest chains of ophthalmology clinics.

WBA said James had led a successful transformation of the Boots business into the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer.

Last week, the group reported its 13th consecutive quarter of retail market share growth, with sales up 6% in the three months to the end of May.

However, Walgreens also slashed its profit outlook for the year and indicated it was abandoning plans to sell or list Boots for the second time in two years.

Ornella Barra, chief operating officer of international at Walgreens Boots Alliance, said: “On behalf of all colleagues at WBA and Boots, I would like to thank Seb for his role in the success of the business over the past years.

“His tenure has seen the company transform through a steadfast focus on investment, innovation and growth into the number one health and beauty destination in the UK.

“We thank Sebastian for his commitment – together with the Boots leadership team – to delivering a strong platform for success and sustainable, long-term growth, and wish him all the best for his next endeavour.”

James added: “It has been a pleasure to lead this fantastic company and support its transformation during my time as managing director.

“Now in its 175th year, Boots has shaped how people access health and beauty products on the high street and I am proud to have been part of a business that continues to hold a critical role at the centre of the UK health and beauty sectors. I look forward to seeing the business continue to succeed under its excellent leadership team.”

James will continue to lead the company until November, with a search to recruit his successor now underway.

Morning update

Elsewhere, it is a quiet morning on the markets.

The FTSE 100 opened up 0.4% to 8,193.55pts.

Early risers included Just Eat Takeaway, up 3.8% to 991p, Ocado, up 3.6% to 299.3p, and PayPoint, up 3.2% to 656.4p.

Glanbia and Naked Wines were among the few fallers, down 5% to €17.30 and 1.5% to 64p respectively.

This week in the City

This week will be dominated by Thursday’s general election, with market updates few and far between.

Tomorrow is the busiest day for fmcg, with Sainsbury’s to update with its Q1 performance, while M&S holds its AGM. Vaping group Supreme publishes annual results and wholesale Kitwave puts out interims. The British Retail Consortium also releases the latest monthly shop price index.

Sainsbury’s also holds its AGM in Thursday.