While Shoppers CEO exits, Canada retailers feel the heat of U.S. competition
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The news that Shoppers Drug Mart president and CEO Jürgen Schreiber is stepping down has taken investors and many industry observers by surprise; the reality is that the company has been wading through some corporate-level changes in recent years, and the Canadian retail market is facing its fair share of competitive challenges.
(THE NEWS: Shoppers CEO steps down. For the news, click here)
As reported, Schreiber is resigning, effective Feb. 15, to pursue a private equity opportunity outside of North America. He joined the company in September 2006 as president and COO, and was appointed to the position of president and CEO in March 2007.
Following the news of Schreiber’s departure, the company’s shares fell about 5% to close at C$37.19 on Thursday.
In another somewhat recent executive change, the company announced in January 2009 the departure of George Halatsis, EVP and CFO — a post that was filed by Bradley Lukow, who has been with Shoppers Drug Mart since 1994.
Further raising eyebrows is the fact that Schreiber recently embarked on a three-year strategic plan that promised to result in earnings growth. The concern is that the plan — which, according to reports, involved financial services offerings and a new private-label generic drug initiative — remains in its fledging stage as Schreiber steps down from his post. How the permanent incoming CEO will handle the initiatives is anyone’s guess.
Fueling the fire is that many Canadian retail chains have been facing increased competition from U.S. retailers. Not only has Walmart Canada revealed plans to expand its presence in Manitoba and Quebec with some 40 new supercenters, but Target also is making its first foray outside of the U.S. market with plans to enter Canada.
According to reports, Target has agreed to pay Hudson’s Bay Co. C$1.83 billion for the leasehold interests in up to 220 sites operated by its discount retailer Zellers. Target will convert 100 to 150 of the locations into Target stores in 2013 and 2014.
Hy-Vee focuses on heart health in circular
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Supermarket and retail pharmacy chain Hy-Vee is marking American Heart Month in February with a special ad circular.
The chain announced Friday that the circular would contain nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs.
The campaign also is being coordinated with the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, with five female chefs appearing in the ad, each pictured preparing a heart-healthy dish, with nutritional and recipe information included. The chain also is including its 150 retail dietitians and having them work with in-store chefs to create healthy recipes.
“Dietitians have a lot of knowledge about foods that can foster health, but the chefs have that special ability to take those healthy ingredients and turn them into something delicious,” said Julie Gieseman, a dietitian at one of Hy-Vee’s West Des Moines stores.
Allegra’s OTC switch could make it a big player in market
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Though Schering-Plough’s — now Merck’s — Claritin and Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec product lines have dominated the over-the-counter antihistamine market, the big share of the prescription antihistamine market held by Sanofi-Aventis’ Allegra (fexofenadine hydrochloride) could give it a battering ram to bust in as well, thanks to the big break Sanofi got in the form of a Food and Drug Administration approval of an OTC switch for the drug.
(THE NEWS: Sanofi successfully switches Allegra. For the full story, click here)
On the subject of big-ticket mergers and acquisitions in the drug industry, the entry of Pfizer and Merck into the biotech industry with their respective purchases of Wyeth and Schering-Plough — as well as French drug maker Sanofi’s efforts to acquire Genzyme — has been the dominant theme as the business model of developing widely used blockbuster drugs has begun to collapse due to generic competition.
But the three companies also have sought to drive growth by entering the OTC market, with Sanofi getting into the business through its purchase of Chattem. That acquisition will give it the necessary expertise and market access to turn Allegra into a major player in the OTC antihistamine market once it becomes available in March.