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London Drugs secures Whistler location

resident says company will consult with community, be sensitive to smaller operators

London Drugs has an agreement in principle with a Whistler landlord to rent space in the heart of the village.

According to Wynne Powell, the president and COO of London Drugs, the company has an agreement with Larco Investments Ltd. to rent space in the locations currently occupied by Eddie Bauer and Guess.

This is just the first step, however, in a very integrative consultation process with the municipality and the community.

"We have an agreement in principle subject to municipality and community support," said Powell.

"We’ve looked at Whistler for a long time and this is the first time we’ve been able to come up with a location that we’re very interested in."

Powell envisions a London Drugs in Whistler within the next two years, if everything goes according to plan.

The company will need a rezoning approval from the municipality to go ahead with the current plans, which call for a two-level store totalling roughly 16,000 square feet. The bulk of the space will be in the lower level.

That rezoning application has not yet been submitted to municipal hall.

From past experience, Powell is confident he can bring London Drugs to Whistler and gain community support for the project.

Though admittedly the company is a large chain store, Powell is quick to point out that London Drugs is a B.C. company, which started in Vancouver almost 60 years ago.

"We’ve never lost our roots in how we started," he said.

"Yes, we are a large company but also we’re a very sensitive large company. We care about the small operators. We’ve been there ourselves in years gone by so we fully respect that particular situation and we have a history of working with the communities that we go into. We don’t do a project short term. We do in very long term."

The company is interested in the Whistler location because of the ongoing traffic count in the resort and the great number of tourists who visit every year.

Market surveys done by London Drugs in the community show that there is support within Whistler to bring the company to town.

"Certainly the majority of Whistler residents would love to have a London Drugs," he said, referencing those market surveys.

"Now we have to turn that desire into something that really works within the community.

"It has to be a store that fits in to the village look and feel and we have a history of doing that in other communities so we’re very hopeful that we can earn the support of both the municipality and the public on this particular project," said Powell.

Larco Investments is the landlord for two London Drugs stores, in their Park Royal location in West Vancouver and the Davie Street store.

It was not clear when the current lease is up for renewal on the Eddie Bauer and Guess stores.

Larco representatives would not comment other than to refer all press questions to London Drugs.