GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has named its consumer healthcare boss Emma Walmsley as chief executive‑designate to replace Sir Andrew Witty when he steps down next March.
She will join a small band of women at the top of the UK’s biggest listed companies, including Alison Brittain at Whitbread, Veronique Laury at Kingfisher, Moya Greene at Royal Mail and Carolyn McCall at EasyJet.
Walmsley has headed GSK’s £6 billion consumer healthcare arm since it was created in March 2015 as part of a joint venture deal with Novartis.
“I am delighted and honoured to be appointed GSK’s next chief executive,” said Walmsley, who joined GSK in 2010 from L’Oreal, where she had held various marketing and general management roles in the UK, Europe and US over a 17-year career at the beauty products company.
She added: “GSK is a company that leads both in science and in the way it does business. We have momentum in the group and as the demand for medical innovation and trusted healthcare products continues to rise, we have the opportunity and the potential to create meaningful benefits for patients, consumers and our shareholders.”
Witty announced plans earlier this year to retire on 31 March 2017, ending nearly nine years at the helm and more than three decades with the business.
Sir Philip Hampton, chairman of GSK, said: “Emma is an outstanding leader with highly valuable experience of building and running major global businesses.”