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Rite Aid joins forces with Text4baby to help pregnant, new mothers

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — The largest mobile health initiative for pregnant mothers and their babies has named Rite Aid its first national retail partner, the drug store chain said Thursday.

Rite Aid said it was named a partner of Text4baby, a free text messaging service for pregnant women and mothers of infants younger than 1 year. In response, Rite Aid said it would provide 10,000 free flu shots to mothers enrolled in Text4baby. The chain said the partnership would connect more women to important health and safety information. The company plans to advertise the new initiative using circular ads, in-store displays and social media, while Wellness Ambassadors at the chain’s Wellness stores will provide information to help mothers enroll.

"Our partnership with Text4baby and founding sponsor Johnson & Johnson directly aligns with our commitment to improving the health and well-being of women, our core customer, and their children," Rite Aid SVP marketing John Learish said. "We’re pleased to be able to use our broad customer base and our associates to help connect women to Text4baby and the valuable information it provides to mothers."

Women will receive three free text messages per week throughout their pregnancy and their baby’s first year, in English or Spanish, if they text RABABY or RABEBE to 511411. The interactive messages are personalized to the mother’s due date or the baby’s birth date, with topics including safety, nutrition, birth defects prevention, safe sleep, developmental milestones and more. Members will be informed of the availability of the flu shots starting Oct. 15; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu shots are especially important for pregnant women, as the flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in those who aren’t pregnant.

"We are excited that Rite Aid is joining us not only to expand the reach of Text4baby, but also, most importantly, to help mothers, mothers-to-be and their babies stay healthy during their pregnancy and beyond," J&J VP strategic partnerships Sara Colamarino said. "Our long-standing relationship and shared interest in helping women and children live healthier lives makes Rite Aid a perfect partner."

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Loblaw announces executive appointments

BY Antoinette Alexander

BRAMPTON, Ontario — Loblaw Cos., which is acquiring Shoppers Drug Mart, has announced a string of executive moves, including the appointment of Mark Butler as EVP integration, who is charged with planning the integration of Shoppers Drug Mart.

In the newly created role, Butler will take on responsibility for planning the integration of Shoppers Drug Mart, while ensuring it remains an independent division. And subject to completion of the transaction following review by the Competition Bureau, Butler will lead the team charged with delivering synergies. He has 37 years with Loblaw, and most recently was EVP conventional division.

"Mark Butler is a seasoned operator with deep expertise and relationships in the key areas we have targeted for synergies. We are committed to achieving the targets we have outlined, and I am confident that Mark and his team will deliver on those objectives," Vicente Trius, president of Loblaw Cos., stated.

Also assuming a newly created role within the company is Grant Froese, who has been appointed chief administrative officer. Froese assumes responsibility for supply chain, IT and SAP implementation, as well as the division support functions of control brands, e-commerce, goods not for resale, offshore procurement and marketing. He has more than 35 years of experience at Loblaw and most recently held the position of EVP discount division.

"The appointment of Grant Froese as chief administrative officer brings important shared service functions, including IT and Supply chain, under a single experienced executive as we enter the next key phase of building Loblaw’s competitiveness and efficiency," Trius stated. "Grant’s combination of deep operational and merchandising experience is an ideal fit as we ramp up the IT roll-out to our store network and drive our efficiency agenda to become a more agile company."

"With improved positioning and an enhanced customer offer, our discount and conventional divisions are well positioned with a strong internal leadership team ready to build on the foundation set by Grant and Mark," Trius added. "We are excited to announce the appointment of two experienced executives, Garry Senecal and Andrew Iacobucci, to lead our Conventional and Discount divisions, respectively."

Senecal becomes EVP of the conventional division, and continues to lead the Health and Wellness team, which includes Loblaw’s current pharmacy, optical and Natural Value offerings. Senecal brings more than 22 years of Canadian and international store operations, merchandising, brands and marketing experience to the role.

Iacobucci becomes EVP of the discount division. He joined Loblaw in 2005 and brings a background in merchandising, operations and strategy to the role as a leader of the Discount division since 2011.

Having successfully completed the design and build phases of the supply chain and IT infrastructure project, Peter McMahon will be leaving the company, the retailer stated.

"As COO, Peter was instrumental in the revitalization of our supply chain and the development of the SAP platform and digital strategy," Trius stated. "We thank Peter for his commitment and contribution to the company, and wish him the very best in his future endeavours."

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Dave Nichol, one of Loblaw’s ‘most memorable colleagues,’ passes away

BY Antoinette Alexander

RAMPTON, Ontario — Loblaw Cos. has announced the passing of industry veteran Dave Nichol, who was known as a masterful marketer and recognized both inside and outside Loblaw for his creativity and skill.

"We are deeply saddened and our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family," Galen G. Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Cos., said. "Dave’s passion for food and his vision helped to transform the way Canadians eat, and he has left a tremendous legacy that endures in the company today. He will be missed by all who had the opportunity to work with him and benefit from his guidance and friendship."

Nichol joined Loblaw in 1972 and held various roles with the company, including president of Loblaw Supermarkets and head of the product development team. He made significant contributions to Loblaw, most notably as the force behind establishing the iconic President’s Choice and noname brands, the company stated.  President’s Choice has become the No. 1 consumer brand in Canada, and many of the products he introduced are still on the market today, including the President’s Choice The Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

Nichol also launched the first Insider’s Report in November 1983, and it reflected his belief that success required not just great products, but great stories as well.

Today, Nichol’s passion and vision live on in Loblaw through the No. 1 and No. 2 consumer brands in Canada — President’s Choice and noname — and the company’s commitment to innovation and bringing unique and compelling products to Canadians, the company stated.

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