Class of 1991
Murray B. Koffler is best known for creating the Canadian pharmacy retailer, Shoppers Drug Mart. Born in Toronto, Ontario in 1924, Koffler took over his father’s two drug stores when he was just twenty years old. He would eventually develop the family business into the largest drug store chain in Canada and one of the most recognized names in Canadian retailing.
“I disliked the business in those days,” Koffler said, referring to the 1920s. “We were like a general store. We sold a bit of everything. We had a soda fountain and a grill – and delivered – even when people called in just for a pack of cigarettes and a carton of Coke.” Graduating from The Ontario College of Pharmacy, Koffler set out to create the kind of drug store he envisioned. At considerable risk to the business, he got rid of the soda fountain and free delivery and moved the dispensary to the front of the store. He also created a new name – Koffler’s Drug Store became Shoppers Drug Mart, projecting an image of value and economy to customers. The store was converted to self serve, a technique that was soon copied by pharmacies across the country.
Murray Koffler has always shared his success with the multi ethnic and racial communities of his native Toronto. His work in the community has resulted in the formation of the Canadian Council of Drug Abuse, Canadian Council for Native Business, as well as the founding of the University of Toronto’s Koffler Institute for Pharmacy Management. He has also contributed significantly to Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.
Appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1977, Koffler was promoted to Officer in 1995. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1992. He also received the Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year Award in 1986, presented by the Retail Council of Canada. The Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto is named in his honour.
Still going strong, Shoppers Drug Mart celebrated the opening of its 1,000 store in April 2007. According to Koffler, "What is most rewarding is that every store…approach customer service the same way we did 45 years ago: personally, professionally and with a true commitment to every person that walks through the door.”