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Dave Nichol, the seminal force behind the most successful line of in house grocery brands in Canada at Loblaw Cos., has died at age 73.

Nichol, a college roommate of Galen Weston with a law degree from Harvard, was working as a consultant when the Loblaw owner and CEO brought him in to head up product development at the struggling chain in 1972, which at the time was losing money and market share.

Named president of the company in 1976, his career ascent began with the launch of the company’s No Name brand in 1978 and the President’s Choice brand in 1984, inking the PC logo with his own handwriting.

Other private label lines included Too Good to be True a line that later evolved into PC Blue Menu and PC’s Green brand. Today Loblaw’s private label program is the envy of other retailers, accounting for roughly a quarter of its food business.

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Nichol, a native of Chatham, Ont., died on Sunday.

“We are deeply saddened and our thoughts and ferragamo prayers go out to Dave family,” Galen G. Weston, executive chairman, said in a statement.

“Dave’s passion for food and his vision helped to transform the way Canadians eat, and he has left a tremendous legacy that endures in the company today. He will be missed by all who had the opportunity to work with him and benefit from his guidance and friendship.”

Nichol became the face of Loblaw as he marketed the brands through a series of no frills infomercials which detailed the grocer’s must have new products and specials.

He also launched the company’s colourful “Insider’s Report,” a multi page flyer which bucked the conventions of traditional price driven mass grocery marketing through the pitchman’s lengthy first person stories about how the products had originated accompanied by large product sh ferragamo ots and colourful, irreverent cartoons.

Pictured on the flyer’s front, often accompanied by his French bulldog Georgie Girl, he introduced mass gourmet and international flavours to the grocery aisle and regularly challenged customers in the circular to find a better product, “anywhere, any place, any time.”

The PC Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie, heavy on the chips, became the bestselling packaged cookie in the country within nine months of its launch.

Nichol also published a bestselling cookbook for Loblaw, The Dave Nichol Cookbook, which sold 100,000 copies within a few weeks of its release.

Nichol left Loblaw in 1993 with an eye to making a greater mark in the world of consumer brands, and the following year was named CEO of Destination Products International, a subsidiary of private label soft dri ferragamo nk maker Cott Corp. But he failed to repeat his earlier success in developing a line of premium food products for retailers to use under their own house brand names.

Loblaw continued to evolve its private brand program, and in the interim years has introduced PC Organics and Black Label to its house lines.

Canada’s biggest grocery chain also revived the company pitchman idea in 2007 with the “Chairman Campaign,” featuring company chairman Galen G. Weston as its new spokesman to vouch for Loblaw’s products and goals, including a drive to reduce the number of plastic grocery bags going to landfill sites.


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