WBA Sponsors 2019 Global Retail Challenge to Inspire Next Generation of Retail Leaders

Dec 11, 2019 8:35 AM ET

WBA Sponsors 2019 Global Retail Challenge to Inspire Next Generation of Retail Leaders

Over six weeks, Walgreens Boots Alliance and other leading companies such as Nordstrom and Columbia Sportswear Company participated in this year’s Global Retail Challenge in partnership with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

The competition brought together 16 teams, representing 92 undergraduate and graduate students from various disciplines and countries, to develop and present solutions that would support a circular economy. Their ideas included new circular products, services and business models that could transform the retail industry and address issues such as waste and pollution. The competition culminated in November with the finalists presenting their solutions at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

As an event sponsor, the Walgreens CSR team provided coaching to participant teams. Alain Turenne, Walgreens CSR vice president judged the semi-final round of the competition:

“I was thrilled to participate as a judge on behalf of Walgreens Boots Alliance,” said Alain Turenne, Walgreens vice president of corporate social responsibility. “This was a great opportunity to motivate the next generation of students to embrace the idea of a circular economy and challenge them to think about sustainability in a retail environment.”

Also participating from Walgreens were John Kotlarczyk, senior director of corporate social responsibility & waste reduction and Lauren Stone, Walgreens senior manager of corporate social responsibility. They helped teams sharpen their focus on the financials to launch their ideas and provided guidance on how to determine costs and impact of their solutions..

Students worked together in 4-6 person teams, progressing through a series of activities and assignments. Teams selected product categories to focus on, including: clothing and shoes, sporting goods, entertainment, toys, health and wellbeing, electronics, home décor, furniture and kitchen appliances.

The field of 15 finalist teams was narrowed down to seven teams, based on semi-final presentation scores and overall coursework scores. The winners were:

1st place: Florida State University for its garment library, which converts donated clothing and allows shoppers to take advantage of different tier memberships to “checkout” items of clothing, similar to how people checkout books from a library.

2nd place: McGill University for their stainless-steel mascara packaging and refillable in-store stations.

3rd place: Columbia University for their idea to transform discarded furniture into new, resin-based modular furniture pieces.

Founded with a grant from fashion retailer ALDO, the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University, offers undergraduate and PhD programs, and will soon launch a Master’s program and a live store/retail lab on campus with various retailer partners.