TORONTO — Former Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) chairman, president and chief executive officer David Bloom died last month at age 73.
Bloom, who started with the chain as a pharmacist in 1967, took the reins as president and CEO in 1983. He added the chairman’s title in 1986 upon the retirement of SDM founder Murray Koffler. Bloom served as chairman and CEO until his own retirement in 2001.
During his tenure, Bloom doubled the chain’s store count, quadrupled sales and generated a tenfold increase in earnings. In 2000, he launched the Shoppers Optimum Program, which has become one of Canada’s most popular customer loyalty programs, with more than 10 million members.
“David was a tenacious and energetic leader who helped transform Shoppers Drug Mart into Canada’s only national drug store chain,” said SDM president Mike Motz. “David’s greatest contribution, however, was the many lives he touched and the many careers he helped shape through the coaching and mentoring he provided. His legacy will have a lasting impact on our business. Our heartfelt condolences go out to David’s family and loved ones.”
Bloom was named Chain Drug Review’s 1998 Retailer of the Year. In 2002, the publication honored him with the Ronald L. Ziegler Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bloom oversaw SDM’s stunning growth while succeeding the legendary Koffler. Koffler had revolutionized the chain drug industry in Canada by introducing the franchised pharmacy concept, providing pharmacist-associates with strong professional and retail management support, and introducing fresh store designs and memorable marketing programs.
Bloom took good concepts and constantly refined and adapted them to new circumstances. He preserved SDM’s commitment to its employees, encouraging them to be innovative and constantly strive for advancement for themselves and the company. At the same time he maintained the retailer’s concern for its customers and their health.
“Visionary leaders are liberators, not ‘limitators,’ ” he said. “People will go beyond the call of duty when their leader paints for them a future vision that is compelling and important. If you lead effectively, people will willingly follow.”
Quoting former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he said, “The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have never been.”
Under Bloom, SDM’s franchisees, or associate-owners were treated, and saw themselves, as the bedrock of the corporate organization’s success.
Bloom himself became an associate-owner in 1968. Three years later, he joined the retailer’s management team as director of operations. He held roles of increasing responsibility before taking the company’s helm in 1983.