New NACDS Chairman: Pharmacy can play a leading role

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New NACDS Chairman: Pharmacy can play a leading role

By Brian Berk - 04/25/2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Chief merchant and CFO of H-E-B, Martin Otto, officially handed over the National Association of Drug Stores chairman gavel to Co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president of Walgreens Alex Gourlay during the NACDS Tuesday morning General Session II.

In introducing Gourlay, Otto (pictured right in the photo) said: “His climb up the corporate ladder has been due to a few basic beliefs. In particular, a commitment to hard work, staying true to people in business and doing the right thing. A keen eye for detail has also been his trademark. … He and his team are tough competitors, who are committed to making a difference for their customers and I look forward to working together with him in the coming year.”

“I hope my tenure as NACDS chairman is as successful as yours,” Gourlay responded to Otto in kind.

“I take my responsibilities as [NACDS chairman] seriously and will work hard to ensure we take leadership forward,” he added.

Following the ceremony, Gourlay stated pharmacy and NACDS can truly play a leading role.

“We are very well positioned as a pharmacy-centric organization to make a difference in peoples’ lives in big and small ways,” he said. “However, it’s not going to be easy.”

Two goals of Gourlay’s tenure will be focusing on building trust and improving efficiency. “This marketplace in America is very inefficient. I can give you a 101 examples of things I see and compare and contrast to Europe that could be made much more efficient in this marketplace. There is a huge opportunity for us to not only become more accessible, but more affordable.”

Regarding lingering challenges, Gourlay cited global unrest and political uncertainty as one major hindrance to growth. On the retail front, he added many challenges lay ahead as well.

“There have been more bricks-and-mortar stores close in the last three months than the previous decade. That’s incredible.”

America’s growing spend on healthcare is another source of concern, said Gourlay, adding the quality of healthcare is “not good enough. People are dying young in this country and many more have chronic diseases like diabetes.”

A moment of truth

David Pothast, U.S. chief customer officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, kicked off the General Session II by asserting that shoppers have tremendous power, and while price is still important, is no longer everything.

“We are experience a mobile moment of truth,” he said. “ … We need to embrace the new marketplace.”

He cited two examples of retailers he truly admires, Panera and Apple.

Regarding Panera, Pothast said the retailer’s success is predicated on two things.

“It’s the best service you can imagine. It’s based on attitude.”

And zeroing in on Apple, he questioned out loud why its stores are always packed.

“It’s the experience they create. We need to do more of this in our industry,” said Pothast.

The event closed with commentary from Richard Fisher, former president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who discussed the both the political and financial climate in the United States.

“I believe the United States has been a uniquely successful experiment that’s been an example to the rest of the world,” he said. “Which means we have an obligation to continue to be exemplary.”