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Former Walgreens president Fred Canning dies
June 29th, 2009
Fred Canning (right) with Charles R. Walgreen III.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Former Walgreen Co. leader Fred Canning died of cancer on Sunday at age 85, the drug store chain reported.
Canning, who served as president and chief operating officer since 1978, orchestrated a turnaround at the company in the late 1970s and continued at the helm until his retirement in 1990, Walgreens said.
While Canning was president, Walgreens saw sharp growth and became the nation's top drug chain. He kept the chain focused on its core competency — running drug stores — and developed many of the strategies that lifted Walgreens to its position as an industry leader, according to the company.
Early in 1985, The Wall Street Transcript named Canning and chief executive officer Charles R. Walgreen III as the best executives for retail/drug chains, an honor they received seven times over the decade. Also that year, Dun's Business Month named Walgreens as one of the five best-managed companies in the nation.
Canning started at Walgreens as a stock clerk in 1946. He became a registered pharmacist and in 1955 was named manager of the Champaign, Ill., store. He moved up the company ranks swiftly, serving in such posts as district manager, regional director, director of marketing, vice president of the drug store division and senior vice president before being named to the president and COO position.