CEO profile: Jürgen Schreiber

Canada’s top 500 CEOs

CEO # 95: Jürgen Schreiber

Financial Post Magazine November 04, 2008

Shoppers Drug Mart is a facelift addict. In recent years, almost every one in its 1,100 pharmacies has been overhauled with a new look and new products. The changes were instigated by Glenn Murphy, the predecessor of Shoppers’ current CEO, Jürgen Schreiber. But now it’s Schreiber’s job to keep up the rapid pace of renovation and expansion. “Shoppers has always been about relentless, ongoing change,” says German-born Schreiber, who took the helm in March 2007 after a stint as the company’s chief operating officer and years of experience working for international retailer A.S. Watson & Co.

The facelift added groceries and an in-house organic food label, helping the company achieve four years of solid profit growth – in 2007, sales were up 8.9% from 2006, to $8.5 billion. Meanwhile, Shoppers has managed to steal cosmetics clients away from department stores, and its prescription medication business, which makes up about half of total sales, rose by 9%, to $4 billion.

This month, Shoppers is taking its makeover one step further, with the launch of luxury beauty-product chain Murale, part of Schreiber’s five-year plan to build 50 Murale stores. But the CEO says his focus will remain with the Shoppers chain as he continues his ambitious plan to increase total retail square footage by 10% a year. The company has also grown its Optimum loyalty card program, which now boasts over nine million active users.

According to analysts, the ever expanding chain is a fairly safe bet in these turbulent economic times. People will still buy drugs, says Bob Gibson at Octagon Capital Corp., and Boomers will continue to drive sales. “We’re all getting older and we’ll all need our meds.”

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