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Giancamilli prepares to hand off CEO reins

BY Jim Frederick

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Sometimes nice guys finish first. Andy Giancamilli, who has held key leadership positions for drug store and big-box chains in both the United States and Canada, revealed in mid-September that he would retire as CEO of Katz Group Canada on Feb. 2, 2012. His announcement caps a storied retail career that culminated with a highly influential stint as chief executive of Canada’s largest drug store network, where he oversaw the transformation of Katz Group from a diverse collection of local drug store holdings into a unified, rejuvenated Rexall retail brand with national reach and a knack for innovation in merchandising and health care.

The capstone of Giancamilli’s leadership was the unveiling last year of a dramatically upgraded store prototype, dubbed Rexall Healthy Living. The test stores are designed to elevate Rexall’s image as a health-and-wellness destination, while building on its strong links with family physicians.

Giancamilli’s career traces the profound evolution of drug store and mass retailing over the past four decades. In an interview Sept. 26, he cited the growth of white-hot competition in the United States and Canada — and the critical role technology has played — in separating retail winners from losers.

“What I’ve seen over the years, especially with big-box retailing, is the huge increase in competitiveness and sophistication in that industry,” Giancamilli said.

“When I started as a clerk in a drug store, we didn’t have point of sale,” he added. “My job was to price merchandise and put it up on the shelf, and I used stickers to do it. With the advent of UPC and scanning and computers … I saw the entire process.”

That growth in data-driven sophistication, Giancamilli said, was critical to survival. “It was necessary, because the industry got so competitive that it became no longer a case of gross margins measured in dollars, but gross margins in pennies,” he noted.

Giancamilli began his career in 1967 as a stock clerk at SK Drug Mart, part of a chain of seven stores in suburban Detroit. He moved to Perry Drug Stores in 1975 after graduation from pharmacy school, quickly becoming a key member of Perry founder Jack Robinson’s small management team, and rising to president and COO by the late 1980s. After Perry’s sale to Rite Aid in 1995, Giancamilli was hired as VP in charge of drug store categories by Kmart, rising later to general merchandise manager of hardlines, president of all merchandising and, eventually, to Kmart president and COO.

In 2001, he moved north to serve as EVP of Canadian Tire. He joined Katz Group in late 2003. He also served as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores from December 2008 to April 2010.

When Giancamilli relinquishes his post early next year, he said he plans to spend more time with family. Among his goals: to rebuild his childhood home in Italy, which was damaged in an earthquake several years ago, and finally find the time to pursue cherished hobbies like boating, golf and racing a Ferrari.

“I would like to stay involved in the industry, whether through board work or some other way, and especially in the field of health care,” he told DSN. “I’m also looking forward to spending more time with my two grandchildren.”

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Gerber Graduates will appeal to that nutrition-conscious mom

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. — With all the focus on food and wellness at the pharmacy, this Graduates Yogurt Melts at a Rite Aid in Camp Hill, Pa., ought to appeal to that nutrition-conscious mom. In fact, this Gerber product was awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval for excellence in family products not too long ago.

According to the "Nestlé Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study," about 50% of toddlers (12 months to 24 months) are not getting the recommended amount of vitamins A, D and E; magnesium; and zinc — and many are not getting enough essential omega-3 fats on any given day.

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Walgreens Flu Impact Report: Flu derailed 3 million travel plans

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — The typical flu season always coincides with the busiest travel period of the year, and last season that spelled trouble for more than 3 million U.S. vacationers whose trips were interrupted by flu-related illness, according to the "Walgreens Flu Impact Report" released Tuesday.

The findings in part two of the survey examining the effects of influenza on people’s everyday lives, released today, showed how the flu affected Americans’ vacations, holidays, social engagements, sporting events and more.

"The one constant when it comes to flu season is that it’s unpredictable, and flu activity can generally peak any time between October and April in the [United States]," stated Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. "In addition to holidays and planned vacations, there may be other engagements and important dates that fall when flu is widely circulating. There’s no planning for an ill-timed illness, and these findings from last year’s typical flu season reinforce the importance of getting a flu shot each year."

Body aches and muscle pain, as well as headache and fatigue, are the most common symptoms associated with flu and can be distressing to sick patients. There are, however, many other symptoms that are possible, especially among children. Of all the possible flu-like symptoms, it is the vomiting (65%) and diarrhea (51%) people dread the most, although they occur less frequently. Sore throat and fever/chills ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.

"These severe symptoms that can last many days and require physician and hospital visits can be very serious, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continually stresses flu prevention and recommends flu shots for everyone over the age of 6 months," Pegus said. According to the CDC, on average 13% of the U.S. population gets the flu every year, with active flu seasons seeing closer to 20%, or more than 62 million Americans.

The Walgreens survey was fielded Sept. 1 to 8 to a Vision Critical Springboard America panel to a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Americans age 18 years or older. Flu Impact Report results were weighted on key demographics to allow projection of results to the entire U.S. adult population. Results are based on self-reported instances of the flu and flu-like symptoms. Projections incorporated the latest data available for average compensation and hours worked from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, population data and projections from the U.S. Census and compared against beta Flu Work Loss models developed by the CDC.

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