A merger to see off an American challenge
THEY met on July 11th in a minivan on a country road.
When they emerged Galen Weston, scion of a Canadian retailing dynasty, and Holger Kluge, chairman of the country's biggest drugstore chain, had made a deal.
The Weston group's Loblaw grocery chain, by far Canada's largest,agreed to buy Shoppers Drug Mart for 12.4 billion.
With this, the relatively cosy world of Canadian retailing comes of age.
To global retailers accustomed to merciless competition Canada is appealingly civilised.
Unlike Americans and Europeans, Canadians have not been hammered by a housing bust.
Fewer big grocery chains are fighting for market share than they are south of the border.
Compared with the United States, Canada has about 60% of the retail floor space per consumer and profit margins are higher.
But things are becoming less comfortable.
Target, an American discount chain, moved into Canada this year, joining Walmart, a behemoth that has been there since 1994.
Safeway, another American grocer,pulled out in June,
but only because a Canadian rival, Sobeys, made an irresistible offer for its stores.
Clothes retailing is getting more crowded, too.
J.Crew arrived in 2011 and Nordstrom, an American department-store chain, is expected in 2014.
All this is happening as consumers are becoming less cheery: economic growth is sluggish and debt is high.
Century-old Loblaw is part of the Weston family's transatlantic empire, which ranges from food manufacturing to the Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason department stores in Britain.
Loblaw hit a rough patch in the mid-2000s, when it briefly fell into loss.
But it has since streamlined operations and upgraded its technology.
Shoppers Drug Mart has built its network steadily over the past half-century.
The merged group, with sales of C42 billion, is in part a counter to the American onslaught.
Shoppers will remain a separate unit and keep its top managers.
Even so, the partners expect to save C135m on annual technology and marketing costs.
More important, says Ken Wong, who teaches business strategy at Queen's University in Ontario, is the opportunity for both chains to wring more from their private-label product lines and loyalty programmes.
By Canadian standards they are adept marketers of their own ranges.
But Canada lags private-label powerhouses such as Britain and Switzerland.
There is much to be gained from selling Shoppers' “Life” range of mouthwashes and plasters in Loblaw's groceries and pushing Loblaw's “President's Choice” food in Shoppers' pharmacies, says Mr Wong.
Loblaw's loyalty programme will get a boost from merging with Shoppers' superior scheme and both will gain from having a bigger data lode to mine.
The deal will mark the arrival in Canada of another global fad.
Until now Canadian grocers have largely ignored the trend in other rich countries to open “convenience” shops in the neighbourhoods where their customers live.
The acquisition of Shoppers' 1,242 stores, which are mainly smallish outlets in cities and towns, provides Loblaw with a full-fledged convenience chain at a stroke.
It places Loblaw “at the front of the pack”, says Kenric Tyghe of Raymond James, a financial-advice firm.
金融咨询公司瑞士金融集团的Kenric Tyghe 说，合并让罗伯劳公司走在前列。
The stockmarket likes the deal:
shares of both companies jumped on the news.
So did those of rivals Metro, a supermarket, and Jean Coutu, a drugstore chain.
Investors are speculating that these two will join to form another Canadian champion. That is unlikely to deter further incursions from across the border.
1.see off 送行，送别
There is no reason why they cannot see off the Republican challenge.
2.agree to do sth 同意做某事
Persuade sb to agree to sth or to do sth which he first opposed.
3.compared with 相比
After the scans, the information was compared with a biometric database.
4.pull out 拔出；退出；离开
She pulled out into the street...