SDM’s new CEO Pilla gives take on what lies ahead

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TORONTO — Appearing at his first Shoppers Drug Mart annual meeting, Domenic Pilla, the company’s new president and chief executive officer, outlined the drug chain’s opportunities and challenges.

Items listed by Pilla included the following:

• The Shoppers Optimum Card, with its 10 million holders, is a rich resource that the drug chain is increasingly able to use for targeted marketing.

• The strategic alliance the company had reached with Canada’s largest Bank, RBC, makes it more convenient for Canadians to use the RBC Shoppers Optimum banking account and debit card and earn rewards at Shoppers/Pharmaprix locations across the country. As it tailors the offer to its individual customers the retailer will be able to deliver better productivity in its marketing spend. The company is also installing 300 ATMs across the store network.

• The objective is to grow SDM’s private brand roster to 8,000 items by year-end.

• The company is continuing its involvement in community investment, with a particular emphasis on women’s health.

Regulatory reform of pharmacy financing also presents a challenge, but SDM is committed to being part of the solution for funding the health care system, Pilla stressed. The solutions available to patients through their drug store often cost less and provide better, more accessible, care for the patient, he said.

Pilla quoted a consultant to the Ontario government and well-respected economist, Don Drummond, who has noted that community pharmacy has often been able to lower costs of treatment and at the same time improve ­outcomes.

SDM’s CEO acknowledged the potentially threatening influences on the market — current high consumer debt, the challenge of mail-order pharmacies, the arrival of Target Stores on the Canadian retail scene and new e-commerce entrants.

He argued, however, that there are an equal number of positive developments — the underlying demographics; the opportunity for consolidation of outlets and the efficiencies they can deliver; the shift to lower-cost therapies; scale of operation as a differentiator; technology as a competitive advantage, both to lower costs and to improve the customer experience; and the expanded scope of practice that pharmacists are being empowered with and encouraged to undertake.

The company, he said, also sees continued opportunity for its specialized divisions: MediSystems, Drug Mart Specialty Health Network and Murale, the high-end cosmetics chain.

Pilla noted that the Murale chain is rolling out an online shopping site, a first for any of the company’s retail divisions, although SDM has for many years offered its customers a sophisticated and useful website for ordering prescription refills.


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