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Reinventing Rexall Pharma Plus

Kit nail polishes are only some of the products included in Rexall's exclusive beauty and accessories line.

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It has been just over a year since Frank Scorpiniti took the helm at Canada's Rexall Pharma Plus. And, as the Canadian retail market continues to heat up, the company has officially taken the lid off a reinvention of its business, from its stores and its brand, to the products and services in its stores.

"While we're experiencing significant product margin pressure through regulatory reform, we are at the same time collaborating with governments to expand pharmacists' scope of practice to provide better access for patients. Additionally, we have emerging competition in Canada," Scorpiniti, CEO of Rexall Pharma Plus, told Drug Store News. "So with those three major themes as a backdrop and our research on emerging customer needs, it gave us a very timely opportunity to look at a reinvention strategy for Rexall, and we've already seen early benefits."

Beginning about 18 months ago, the company undertook a strategic reinvention of its entire business, and during that time, much work has been under way to enhance the business and the lives of its shoppers.

While Scorpiniti believes that it is important for retailers to constantly reinvent their offerings for their shoppers, there's no doubt that the emerging competition within the Canadian retail space and government reform has helped fuel the undertaking.

In recent months, Canada has seen increased competitive activity in retail. For example, Target Canada is about to open its first stores in Canada, and Walmart Canada recently announced that it will invest $450 million for supercenter and distribution center projects.

Then there's government pressure. In January, it was announced that nine provinces and three territories are working together to cap the prices on six widely used generic drugs, which represent roughly 20% of the publicly funded spending on generic drugs in Canada. Under the agreement, the price cap for those six generic drugs will be 18% of the equivalent brand-name medication. Currently, individual provinces and territories pay between 25% and 35% of brand-name prices. The new prices go into effect April 1.

Meanwhile, as governments are increasingly collaborating with retail and community pharmacy to find new ways to provide better access to health care, a significant expansion of pharmacy practice is under way and gaining speed in Canada. Pharmacists in some provinces are now assessing patients and prescribing for minor ailments in some provinces. In Ontario, pharmacists are creating smoking cessation plans and prescribing smoking cessation products.

Scorpiniti said, "Our industry associations and their member companies are working closely with governments to allow pharmacists to provide even more patient services. Certainly, new practice opportunities, government reform and emerging competition serve to catalyze [the reinvention] and to make it very timely for us. So we think the new competition forces us to continually evaluate and evolve our customer offering," Scorpiniti said.

The accelerated pace of change in the Canadian drug retail environment has served Rexall Pharma Plus well, providing the company an opportunity to move quickly to market. Recently the company announced that Rexall Pharma Plus pharmacists administered 190,000 of the more than 200,000 flu shots administered in total by pharmacists in the province of Ontario.

At the shelf level, much of the reinvention is playing out in the form of new product offerings, such as the exclusive beauty and accessories line called Kit and Rexall's new flagship private brand known as Be.better.

Be.better is a line of more than 100 products available exclusively at Rexall and Rexall Pharma Plus stores. With a focus on healthier living, the collection includes healthier snack options, environmentally friendly cleaning products, gluten-free vitamins, vegetarian probiotics and beauty products that are enriched with natural ingredients and are paraben-free.

The key features and benefits of every Be.better product are clearly identified by checkmarks found on the front of the package, making it even easier for customers to make better choices.

To highlight the new offerings and to serve as a signal to customers of what is to come, Rexall launched during the last week of January the premiere issue of its new Feel Good magazine.

"In [the magazine], we launched over 100 new, exclusive Rexall products and highlighted our emerging pharmacy services, all geared toward helping guide our customers and patients toward a healthier lifestyle," Scorpiniti said.

Within the pages of the magazine — distributed to homes via newspaper insert and direct mailings, as well as in-store — customers can learn about the new, exclusive products, as well as Rex-all's immunization offerings, its medication review service available countrywide and its smoking cessation offering available in Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Feel Good magazine also can be found on the company's recently revamped website, Rexall.ca. In an effort to reflect the new direction the company is taking, the relaunched site has a new look and feel, as well as enhanced content and services, such as an online prescription refill service. The site also features Rexall's new logo and brand colors.

The company's brand reinvention also is playing out within the stores through a new look and feel and flow. In April 2012, the company quietly opened the Richmond-Adelaide Centre store in downtown Toronto, marking its first new brand store.

"We put our first new store in the ground as we were evolving our strategic offering because we felt it was important to bring this brand to life in our organization," Scorpiniti said, noting that a second location opened in October 2012 at First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto.

Of the company's 430 stores, there currently are 10 locations that are completely brand-reinvented stores, Scorpiniti said, and that "over the appropriate time frame," all of its stores will begin to take on the enhanced look and feel.

"What's most important about these stores is that while they have a completely enhanced look, feel and flow, ... they have completely reinvented product offerings that are a result of listening to our store managers, our pharmacists and our customers, while designing a store look-and-feel that is most relevant for our consumers today," Scorpiniti said.

"Part of the brand reinvention is how we pull the new look, feel and themes through all of our 430 stores. The new logo is becoming a part of the packaging for products on the shelf over the next several months. They are part of our in-store signage package in the front shop and pharmacy, which is a strong signal to our customers that things are changing at Rexall," Scorpiniti said.

"Along with cosmetic changes is a deep focus on new and enhanced services, products and programs. Our new strategy really comes alive in the customer experience we're creating now and in the years to come. This is just the beginning of a strategy rollout, and at Rexall we're all excited by what's next," Scorpiniti said.

While the company has touched nearly every aspect of the business through this reinvention, what remains the same, Scorpiniti said, is its core value of providing health and wellness to communities across Canada.

"What's most important about these stores is that while they have a completely enhanced look, feel and flow, .... they have completely reinvented product offerings."

Frank Scorpiniti, Rexall Pharma Plus

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