TORONTO—Loblaws has announced a $12.4 billion deal to acquire Shoppers Drug Mart, pending shareholder approval. Mooseclean’s had a chance to sit down with Galen G. Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited, and ask him about the amalgamation.
Mooseclean’s: This transaction will be a marriage of the country’s biggest players in grocery and pharmacy. How did it happen?
GGW: One night on the way home from work, I had a hankering for a snack. I was miles from the nearest Loblaws and I thought to myself, “I should put a Loblaws in that empty field.” We broke ground on that store last month. However, at that time, I didn’t have the option of picking up a bag of President’s Choice The Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies—now with more chocolate pieces. So I pulled into a Shoppers Drug Mart and was very impressed with what I saw. After touring the well-stocked and brightly-lit aisles, I walked out with a bag of Simply Food Chocolate Chip Cookies. I went home and shared the cookies with my family and we all agreed that they were quite tasty. Then I looked at my wife and when I asked her how much we were worth—the wheels just started turning.
Mooseclean’s: So you’ve hinted at duplicate products. Do you see much redundancy in the two stores? If so, how will you deal with that?
GGW: I think it all comes down to choice and personal preference. By combining these entities, we’re striving to offer more, not less. So a customer who shops in both stores and enjoys corn chips may have an allegiance to Life Brand Tortilla Chips. However, their spouse may prefer PC Loads of Salsa Con Queso Tortilla Chips. We can satisfy everyone in the house by keeping both brands.
Mooseclean’s: So the Life, Simply, and Nativa Organics labels will co-exist with PC Blue Menu, PC Black Label and PC Organics?
GGW: I can see the advantages to keeping the store-affiliated products for both companies. The more the merrier!
Mooseclean’s: What about the financial services? Shoppers has ties to RBC while PC Financial has CIBC backing.
GGW: Both offer MasterCard credit cards, so I’m sure there’s a way to include everybody.
Mooseclean’s: You’re saying there won’t be changes in either chain? All brands, affiliations and products will remain the same?
GGW: At first, yes. But eventually, the Loblaws brands will eclipse the Shoppers brands and we’ll be one big family with half the employees.
Mooseclean’s: Was that an evil laugh?
GGW: It was just a little cough. But I can clear it up with a can of President’s Choice 100 percent Sparkling Fruit Juice in peach mango flavour. It’s new in a Loblaws near you! And coming soon to Shoppers Drug Mart.