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NACDS chairman Alex Gourlay sees pro-customer role

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WBA’s Alex Gourlay (left) is handed the gavel by outgoing NACDS chairman Martin Otto of H-E-B at the Annual Meeting.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A customer-centric focus will continue to define the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, said today in his inaugural remarks as NACDS chairman.

“The theme for today, and moving forward is the customer — understanding the customer’s needs and meeting them,” Gourlay said. “The whole association of NACDS is going to be based on that theme moving forward, in meeting the health care challenges that [former NACDS Chairman] Martin Otto described, and in advancing the Future Value Targeting initiative that [NACDS President and CEO] Steve Anderson described earlier during this meeting.

“Through the Future Value Targeting initiative, we are looking to lead the industry in a proactive and positive way, at a time when we have so much to offer.”

Gourlay described shifting dynamics in the political environment, retail industry and health care. He noted changing trends in fulfillment, demographics, shopper behavior, wellness and personalization.

To address these dynamics, he emphasized the importance of raising trust levels and boosting efficiency in meeting the needs of customers. “Building trust is absolutely essential in this marketplace,” he said. “Also, we have to improve efficiency in this marketplace.”

To pursue those goals, he described the importance of putting customers first in various areas. He discussed health care affordability and price transparency. He noted opportunities to foster convenience by maximizing efficiency and experience through retailers’ partnerships with suppliers and wholesalers, technological solutions such as e-prescribing, and new pharmacy services.

He concluded by recognizing corporate social responsibility efforts already underway by NACDS chain and associate members alike, which can form the basis for further efforts to commit to the communities the industry serves.

Regarding corporate social responsibility, he said: “We have to tell our story. It is an important way to build trust. That’s my big area of focus for the months ahead. We want all NACDS chain and associate members to be part of that conversation. And, of course, we have to do more. With our collective power and wisdom we can do more. We need to tell our story and improve our story.”

Today’s business program also included remarks by Richard Fisher, who served as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 2005 to 2015, and David Pothast, U.S. chief customer officer at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., which supported the session. Similarly, Colin Mackenzie, region head of the Americas and area general manager for North America at GSK Consumer Healthcare, spoke at and supported the Sunday business program. Pothast and Mackenzie’s remarks also reflected the pro-consumer and pro-patient themes that have resonated throughout the event.


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