Walgreen Co. has named Gregory D. Wasson, 50, its new chief executive officer and a director of the company effective Feb. 1.

Alan G. McNally, 63, who has served as chairman and acting ceo since October, will remain chairman of Walgreens’ board. Wasson, who joined the retailer as a pharmacy intern in 1980, most recently served as president and chief operator officer. He will retain the president position.

The appointment ends a three-and-a-half-month search, which began in October, and coincided with Walgreens’ announcement to improve overall performance, including slowing future store openings; enhancing the customer experience, and aligning its costs, culture and capabilities to its growth strategy.

The company intends to reduce capital spending by $1 billion over the next three years and is targeting an additional $1 billion in annual cost reductions by 2011.

“Since he became president nearly two years ago, his personal leadership has been instrumental in assembling a talented leadership team with a diverse set of capabilities from Walgreens, acquired health care companies, and direct hires from other industries.” stated McNally. “Greg has been the key architect and is now leading the implementation of Walgreens ‘more from the core’ strategy that is rapidly and fundamentally transforming our company.”

Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2008 sales of $59 billion, operates 6,636 drugstores in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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