Strickland joins Zellers

After a seven-month search, Zellers announced Oct. 2 that it had chosen David Strickland as its new senior vice-president of marketing....

After a seven-month search, Zellers announced Oct. 2 that it had chosen David Strickland as its new senior vice-president of marketing.

Strickland joined the Brampton, Ont.-based retailer from Enbridge Home Services, the retail arm of Enbridge Consumers Gas, where he had been vice-president of business development and marketing. During his tenure there, he saw the company build its retail presence to 17 stores, and helped guide its transformation from a utility that marketed its services through bill inserts into a sophisticated advertiser that built its brand using television, radio and direct mail.

From 1995 to 1997, Strickland was vice-president of marketing and franchising for Pizza Hut in Canada, a position he assumed after having been director of consumer products for the Toronto Raptors. Earlier in the ’90s, he worked as vice-president of marketing for the 1994 World Championship of Basketball and as director of sports properties for CTV.

It was Strickland’s diverse background, with its mix of business development and marketing, that made him such an attractive candidate, says Zellers president Thomas Haig.

‘We looked at his resume, which had some retail background, but he also fit in with where we’re going from a total company point of view. I was pleased with his overall business acumen and his strategic thinking,’ he says.

For his part, Strickland says he can’t wait for the chance to duke it out with Wal-Mart.

‘Whenever you face the best at anything in the world, it makes everybody in the industry get better. That, to me, makes it exciting,’ he says. ‘Figuring out how to position and survive next to a company like Wal-Mart is a great marketing challenge.’

According to Haig, Strickland is an aggressive marketer who attacks problems from the consumer’s perspective. He’s also a creative thinker, like his predecessor Peter Housley, who left the company earlier this year to become CEO of IMG Interactive Media Group.

The two have several things in common. Strickland and Housley graduated together from the business program at the University of Western Ontario, and today live just down the street from each other in downtown Toronto. Before going to his interview, Strickland went to see Housley to suss out the job.

The first test for Strickland will come next spring, when Zellers plans to introduce a new strategic positioning to ‘take it to the next level’ in marketing communications, says Haig. Strickland’s job will be to figure out just what that ‘next level’ is.