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The Globe and Mail

Murray Koffler, Shoppers Drug Mart founder

Murray Koffler is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, perhaps best known for founding Shoppers Drug Mart and transforming the retail drug industry in Canada - dispensing with the soda fountains to focus on prescriptions, health and beauty aids.

He opened Canada's first self-serve drugstore in 1956, and introduced the concept of associate pharmacists operating in local communities with a personal understanding of resident needs. By 1962, a network of 17 Shoppers Drug Mart stores had been established, each preserving the personal service of the local pharmacy. That same year, the Life brand name was introduced.

Shoppers currently employs some 50,000 people in over one thousand stores, including Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix in Quebec, Simply Pharmacy units in hospitals and medical buildings, Shoppers Home Health Care stores, and Murale.

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Mr. Koffler was a founding director, along with partners Isadore Sharp and Edmund Creed, of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto in 1958. Among many firsts in customer service, the hotel was the first to include an onsite fitness club and spa. Today, the company features 81 five-star hotels on five continents and sets global standards in the hospitality industry.

A University of Toronto graduate in pharmacy, Mr. Koffler has made numerous contributions to the university, including funding to establish the Koffler Institute for Pharmacy Management, and the most valuable land gift ever given to a Canadian university - the Koffler's equestrian estate, 16,000-square-foot mansion, stables, cottages and outbuildings, which became the Koffler Scientific Reserve, a world-class site for research and education in biodiversity and conservation biology.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Koffler rallied drug manufacturers and other businesses to tackle the problem of drug abuse in children and youth, and founded the Council on Drug Abuse (CODA). Since then, its education programs have reached more than one million youth.

For his visionary leadership in business, Mr. Koffler been named to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Marketing Hall of Legends; he also received the Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year Award.

Nominators: Tom Koffler and Marc Boyman, Toronto

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