Shoppers CEO steps down

Canadian drug chain's stock likely to fall

TORONTO — The abrupt departure of Shoppers Drug Mart president and CEO Jürgen Schreiber announced Wednesday is expected to negatively impact the company’s stock — many investors bought into Shoppers on the faith that retail maven Schreiber would return Canada’s largest drug retailer to consistent quarter-over-quarter growth.

“Schreiber’s departure could be a concern for some investors [for two reasons],” UBS analyst Vishal Shreedhar wrote in a note published Thursday morning. “A CEO exit during a period of earnings volatility could cause some investors to question [Shoppers'] current strategy and outlook. ... Many shareholders invested in [Shoppers] because of their confidence in Schreiber’s ability to return the company to consistent growth.”

Shreedhar noted that Shoppers still is delivering positive earnings, however, and maintained UBS’ buy rating for the Canadian retailer.

Schreiber’s resignation is effective Feb. 15.

Shoppers immediately inducted a global search for a new CEO. Chairman David Williams will serve as the company’s president and CEO on an interim basis until a replacement is named. Prior to his appointment as chair of the board of directors in February 2007, Williams served as a member of the company’s audit committee from 2003 through 2006. Williams’ retail experience includes 22 years with George Weston and Loblaw Cos., where he held a number of senior executive positions in operations and finance.

In leading this transition, Williams will operate with a structure that will have three of the company’s most senior executives reporting directly to him on an interim basis, Shoppers announced, including Brad Lukow, EVP and CFO; Mike Motz, EVP operations; and Mary-Alice Vuicic, chief administrative officer and EVP human resources.

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