Boots chief James to run ophthalmology chain Veonet

The outgoing boss of Boots is leaving to run Veonet, one of Europe’s largest chains of ophthalmology clinics.

Sky News has learnt that Sebastian James is to become the new group chief executive of Veonet, which is owned by the private equity firm PAI Partners and Canada's Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

He will leave Boots in November, as Sky News revealed on Saturday, and will join Veonet soon afterwards, insiders said.

Veonet was acquired by its current owners in early 2022 from Nordic Capital, another buyout firm.

In the UK, Veonet owns SpaMedica, which performs eye operations such as cataract removals for the NHS.

Overall, the group provides eye care services to more than 2m patients annually across five European markets, including Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

Dr Markus Hamm, the current Veonet CEO, is retiring but will remain on its board.

Mr James is leaving Boots after its parent, Walgreens Boots Alliance, abandoned plans to sell or float the pharmacy chain for a second time in two years.

His departure will come during the retailer's 175th anniversary year.

An announcement about his exit from Boots and appointment at Veonet is expected to be made early this week.

Veonet could not be reached for comment, while both PAI and OTPP declined to comment.