Visionaries

2005
Dave Nichol

Dave Nichol & Associates

“Marketing is the art of meaningful sustainable differentiation. Giving away Tide at half price is meaningful but not sustainable. What is the ideal marketing strategy? One that is compellingly attractive to your customers yet is one that your competitor is unable or unwilling to replicate.”

Dave Nichol has been credited with many things during his career. The simplest assessment is that he has changed the retail landscape forever and has done so in a sustainable and meaningful way. A lifelong passion for food has translated into fundamental evolutions in the choices and quality of food products available to Canadian households.

From 1985 to the end of 1993, Dave Nichol was president of Loblaw international merchants, the product development arm of Loblaw Companies Limited. With total North American sales of over $9 billion Canadian, Loblaw is the largest retailer and wholesaler of grocery products in Canada.

From 1975 to 1985, as president of Loblaws supermarkets, Dave Nichol was the driving force behind “no name” generic products, the “president’s choice” superior quality product program as well as a nutritious line of healthy products called “too good to be true” and an environmentally friendly line of president’s choice “green” products. Today, Loblaw has North America’s most successful retailer-branded program.

“Retailing is an absolutely fascinating profession. Retailing is really a game. You change the store and you write the ad, and the consumer will tell you automatically how they feel.”

It should be noted that along with his mentor, Galen Weston, Nichol was part of an original Loblaw team which included Richard Currie, the late Brian Davidson and designer Don Watt. This executive group is largely responsible for the strategies and tactics that built a business which now dominates the Canadian food retailing industry, is the envy of food marketers around the world and is considered one of the greatest business success stories in Canadian history. From a pure bottom line perspective, the programs that Mr. Nichol set in motion have resulted in a single stunning fact, Four thousand dollars invested in Loblaw Companies common stock in 1977, with dividends reinvested is worth well over a million dollars today.

The huge success of president’s choice products is best represented by such products as “the decadent chocolate chip cookie” which is only available in 17% of Canadian supermarkets, yet is Canada’s best selling cookie. With over 1,000 unique president’s choice products, Loblaws has 48% of its unit sales in its own brands.

“…be customer obsessed. Walmart, for example, automatically does cost deductions for customers. And be product obsessed.”
From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Nichol was C.E.O. of Destination Products International, a subsidiary of Cott Corporation (the world’s largest supplier of retailer-controlled soft drinks), where he developed a line of unique premium food products that were offered to food retailers around the world under each retailer’s own brand name.

Mr. Nichol was born in Chatham, Ontario in 1940. He holds a degree in business administration from the University Of Western Ontario as well as a law degree from the University of British Columbia and a post-graduate degree from the Harvard law school. Prior to his joining the Loblaw group in 1972, Mr. Nichol worked with Mckinsey and Company, Inc., an international firm of business consultants.
Currently as C.E.O. of his new consulting firm, Dave Nichol & associates, he creates unique products that are sold under his own name or names controlled by his clients. In this capacity, he works with companies who are totally committed to “brand” themselves through unique products under their own brand name.

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