1992 Economic Economic

Jean Coutu opened the first PharmEscomptes bearing his name in 1969, and revolutionized the profession. Until then, pharmacists were confined to selling traditional medicines and remedies. Thanks to his marketing techniques that paralleled those of large supermarket chains, they could offer their clients a wide range of products.

Success was immediate and long-lasting. Twenty-three years later in 1992, there are more than 200 Jean Coutu pharmacies across the province. Groupe Jean-Coutu has also expanded outside Quebec, with 21 pharmacies in the U. S., 8 in Ontario and 9 in New Brunswick. The company became Groupe Jean-Coutu in 1986, when it was first listed on the Stock Exchange.

Mr. Coutu has always been able to count on his family to help him realize his ambitions. Three of his five children are ready to carry on in the family business: Louis, the eldest, is the company's Marketing Director, Michel is responsible for U.S. Franchise Operations and François-Jean, a pharmacist like his father, is President and Chief Operating Officer of Groupe Jean-Coutu.

Forty years of happily married life and outstanding business success have not diminished his sensitivity to issues of social injustice. He and his wife created the Fondation Marcelle et Jean Coutu in 1990 to help the underprivileged, women and children who are victims of violence, and to combat drug use throughout the province.

His humanitarianism stretches beyond the borders of Quebec. Since 1986, the Groupe has sponsored a project called Parrainage au Mali. Thanks to the Groupe and its financial support, three villages in the West African country of Mali have been able to take their first steps toward economic self-sufficiency, mainly through reforestation and irrigation projects.

His enormous commercial success has gained him recognition in the financial and health care communities. Mr. Coutu is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Québecor and the Institut de la médecine de la reproduction. In the past, he has held similar positions with the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal and the Fondation hospitalière Maisonneuve-Rosemont. In 1990, he was awarded the Velan Prize for his efforts in promoting international development. He also received the Order of Merit from the Association des diplômés de l'Université de Montréal. Last year, he received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Concordia University.