Special feature: Excellence in Retailing Awards

Among the highlights of this year's Retail Council of Canada conference, held June 9-11 at the Toronto Congress Centre, was the presentation of the first annual Excellence in Retailing (era) Awards.eras were given out in five categories, with two levels of...

Among the highlights of this year’s Retail Council of Canada conference, held June 9-11 at the Toronto Congress Centre, was the presentation of the first annual Excellence in Retailing (era) Awards.

eras were given out in five categories, with two levels of awards: one for small retail operations with 1-10 stores, the other for large retailers with more than 10 stores.

This new format represents a complete relaunch of the Retail Council awards program, designed to make it more relevant to the trade association’s 7,000 member operations.

The council also bestowed its highest honor, Distinguished Retailer of the Year, on David R. Bloom, chairman and ceo of Shoppers Drug Mart.

In addition, the awards ceremony featured the presentation of a special Extra Award, from the Newspaper Marketing Bureau, to Harry Rosen and Reid Bell.

On these pages, Strategy pays tribute to the winners of the 1996 eras.

Innovative Retailer of the Year

Large Store winner

Club Monaco International

In fall of 1995, as it marked its 10th anniversary, Club Monaco began the renovation and rejuvenation of the landmark Lillian Massey Building on Toronto’s Bloor Street West. The new retail space was designed to take advantage of the existing architecture of the building, while remaining sensitive to its layout and historical significance. To support the opening of this new flagship store and promote its wares, Club Monaco launched an outdoor campaign featuring the work of celebrated Canadian fashion photographer Walter Chin.

Small Store winner

Oh Yes Toronto!

With 10 stores in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Whistler, the Oh Yes! chain sells high-quality T-shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps and other accessories – ‘souvenirs for people who hate souvenirs.’ Because two-thirds of its clientele are tourists, the company has had to develop creative ways to attract attention to its products. This summer, for example, Oh Yes! is sponsoring a ‘tackiest souvenir in the world’ contest. The company has also been active in raising funds for the Kids’ Help Phone Line.

Store Layout and Design

Large Store winner

Liquor Control Board of Ontario (lcbo)

To increase traffic at its store in Toronto’s Manulife Centre, the lcbo set out to create a more comfortable shopping environment that would attract customers and familiarize them with the products’ origins. Project designers paid special attention to visual merchandising, lighting, graphics, detail and color. Within four months of the store’s opening in December 1995, the average transaction per customer had increased nearly 15%.

Small Store winner

Oh Yes Toronto!

This chain’s innovative design makes prominent use of its vibrant logo. Many of the counter units are moveable (and removeable), making it possible to adjust store layout to suit a variety of needs. Strong track-lighting along the windows helps the store stand out from neighboring retailers. In-store and window displays are changed as frequently as 25 times a year.

Marketing and Advertising

Large Store winner

Club Monaco International

To better position itself as an international design brand of modern classics for men and women, Club Monaco worked with fashion photographer Walter Chin on a visually-arresting advertising campaign. The ads, which featured Chin’s vivid black-and-white portraits of men and women, appeared on Urban Lites outdoor signs in high-traffic areas, as well as on exterior bus panels, to increase the campaign’s exposure to a broader customer base.

Small Store winner

Living Rooms

This three-outlet St. John’s retailer takes pride in its uniquely Newfoundland approach to business, as reflected in the homespun appeal of its advertising. Among Living Rooms’ most successful promotions is a frequent buyer program: customers are asked to keep their sales receipts, and when the total reaches $500, they receive a $50 gift certificate. Nearly 700 customers have claimed their rewards over the past four years.

Social Responsibilty

Large Store winner

The Body Shop Canada

In keeping with its philosophy of ‘profits with principles,’ the 116-store Body Shop Canada chain participates in and initiates social and environmental campaigns. Since 1993, the company has been actively involved in public awareness and fundraising efforts aimed at stopping violence against women. Its efforts have raised more than $250,000 for violence prevention and recovery programs. In 1995, Body Shop joined forces with the YWCA of Canada and the Canadian Women’s Foundation to launch a fundraising and public education campaign entitled ‘You’ve got the power! STOP Violence Against Women.’ Last March, it spearheaded a similar campaign: ‘Expect Respect,’ focusing on the issue of violence against young women.

Staff Development and Motivation

Large Store winner

Dufferin Game Room Store

Staff training at this Toronto-based operation is designed to be relentless, fun and fully integrated into every program. The emphasis is on empowering all employees to solve problems on the spot. Successful completion of Dufferin’s three-part sales training program – a three-month course – is rewarded with a letter of congratulations, small gifts and a ‘Retail Excellence’ certificate and pin.

Special Achievement winner

T. Eaton Company

In 1994, the T. Eaton Company teamed up with Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnic University to establish the Eaton School of Retailing (esr), with the goal of offering management education for Eaton’s employees – and eventually, for other retail organizations. Last year, the esr and Ryerson launched classroom-based credit courses in four cities across Canada; almost 800 Eaton’s employees have attended classes covering changes in consumer behavior, international competition and new technologies. A cd-rom multimedia program in retail merchandising and finance is now being developed.

Distinguished Retailer of the Year

David R. Bloom

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – Shoppers Drug Mart

David Bloom began his career as a pharmacist in Toronto in the 1970s, and rose rapidly through the ranks at Shoppers Drug Mart. He was named president and ceo in 1983, and chairman three years later.

‘It’s humbling to receive such an honour,’ says Bloom, ‘especially when the people recognizing you are your peers.’

In addition to his work with Shoppers, Bloom is active in both the industry and the community.

He has served as chair of the Retail Council, the Ontario Chain Drug Association, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the Koffler Institute of Pharmacy Management at the University of Toronto, among others.

He is also a member of such bodies as the Chief Executives Organization, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the board of directors of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores in the u.s.

His business and humanitarian contributions have earned him numerous awards, including the Donald B. McCaskill Award for Marketing Excellence, the Canadian Public Relations Society’s ceo Award of Excellence and the McGill University Management Achievement Award.

The Shoppers Drug Mart chain was founded in 1968 and now, as a unit of Montreal-based Imasco, operates more than 850 drugstores across Canada.

The company, which recently acquired the Big V chain of drugstores, has annual sales exceeding $4 billion.

Special Extra! Award

Harry Rosen and Reid Bell

Each year, the Newspaper Marketing Bureau gives out its Extra Awards, honoring creative excellence in Canadian daily newspaper advertising. At this year’s Retail Council of Canada conference, a special Extra was presented. The recipients: Harry Rosen, president and ceo of the 22-store menswear chain that bears his name, and Reid Bell, owner of Toronto’s Reid Bell Associates Advertising. The award paid tribute to a 35-year collaboration that has produced some of the most memorable advertising done in this medium.

The following is a transcript of the remarks made at the awards presentation by John Finneran, president of the Newspaper Marketing Bureau.

‘It could be argued that the single greatest disciple of newspaper advertising is Harry Rosen.

Canadians have witnessed and taken part in the Harry Rosen story almost exclusively through their daily newspaper for the past 35 years.

He has used newspapers to tell his story, to sell his merchandise and his image.

The advertising community were among his best customers, even in his early days in his Parliament Street store. You hadn’t arrived until you bought your first Harry Rosen suit, and were suddenly transformed. You looked the part.

But Harry Rosen doesn’t make newspaper ads. Harry makes suits. Someone else has to make Harry’s newspaper ads.

And the master tailor of the Harry Rosen newspaper ads for the longest time, since the early days in 1961, right through to now, has been Reid Bell.

Theirs has been an amazing and successful partnership that has endured longer than most marriages.

Harry Rosen ads assume an intelligent consumer who enjoys provocative advertising.

They have provided valuable information and tips about fashion and dressing well.

We’ve also learned about his stores and about his staff.

And even his mistakes.

[One of Harry Rosen's most famous ads contained a glaring typo, dropping one of the 'g's' from 'Winnipegger.' The follow-up ad consisted of one sentence written over and over again on a blackboard: 'I must not spell Winnipegger Winnipeger.']

Daily newspapers of Canada are proud and delighted to mark the first-ever award of a special Extra to honor a remarkable, successful and enduring advertising partnership that may have no equal in Canada.’