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Industry mourns loss of two icons


The drug store industry said goodbye to two icons of the business in September. Charles R. “Cork” Walgreen III, 80, former president, CEO, chairman of the board and chairman emeritus of the company that bears his family’s name, and David Bloom, 76, the former, long-time CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart passed away last month — exactly one day apart on Sept. 26 and Sept. 25, respectively.

Recalling a special luncheon last year in honor of Walgreen’s 80th birthday, Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, noted: “As I listened to the tributes and spoke with Mr. Walgreen, I was struck again by how he led our company — with a great singular focus on his customers — with humility and a very clear sense that Walgreens needed to stand for value and care in the community.”

The grandson of company founder Charles R. Walgreen, “Cork” as he was widely known, began in the family business in 1952 as a stock boy, went on to serve as a store pharmacist and held various leadership positions before becoming president and CEO in 1971, and chairman and CEO in 1976. He is widely credited for refocusing the company around its core business and exiting such ancillary businesses as restaurants and travel agencies.

Bloom, who began his career at Shoppers Drug Mart in 1967 as a store pharmacist, assumed the helm for the company in 1983 and led it until his retirement in 2001. Under Bloom’s leadership, Shoppers more than doubled its store count, sales quadrupled and earnings increased tenfold.

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