London Drugs ‘gradually’ reopening core services across all stores after cybersecurity incident

London Drugs says it will be “gradually” reopening core services across its stores in western Canada after they were shuttered by a reported cyberattack a week ago.

The pharmacy chain says it won’t be able to say which stores are opening, or when they will be open.

The company says rather than wait to open everything all at once, it is opening its core services to meet “healthcare and everyday needs.”

Pharmacists will be back at all locations to assist with emergency prescriptions and other urgent care, London Drugs says. Canada Post locations within stores will also be accessible.

London Drugs closed more than 80 locations across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba April 28 in response to the reported cybersecurity incident.

On Saturday, it said it’s “taking the time with each store to ensure systems are working and ready to serve customers.”

“As we have communicated over the last couple of days, our store systems are complex and connect with multiple third-party provider systems, all with different requirements. We are continuing to work with our third-party cybersecurity experts to bring our systems online in a safe and secure manner.”

London Drugs locations began slowly coming back online Thursday when phone lines became operational again. They had been taken offline “as a necessary part of its internal investigation.”

‘They could fully recover from this’

One expert believes London Drugs can recover from the cyberattack over time.

“It’s in the short term a disaster for them because it gives their loyal shoppers or even casual shoppers a reason to shop elsewhere,” said Andrew Harries, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and innovation at Simon Frasier University’s Beedie School of Business in B.C.

“In the longer term though, I think they could fully recover from this and even turn this to their advantage.”

However there are steps the company should be taking but isn’t, Harries said.

“The first thing that I would do if I were London Drugs right now is I would be communicating way more to the public, and in particular to their loyalty program members.”

Harries says the company should have a daily stream of communications to maintain its relationship with its LD Extras customers and to “make sure that London Drugs remains embedded in their minds even if they can’t shop there right now.”

And the messages the company has been putting out, he says, have had the wrong focus.

“The tenor of these communications is very technical about cybersecurity incidents and that they’ve hired security professionals and no customer data appears to have been breached,” he said.

“This is not the language of brand engagement. This is the language of technocrats,” he said.

“They need to be figuring out how to communicate on an emotional level with the loyal customers. And they need to be doing that regularly, like daily.”

‘Come back with a vengeance’

Harries feels, in the short term, the reported attack is going to be “catastrophic” to their bottom line.

“But I think they’ll have the financial wherewithal to be able to power through it, provided they open soon… they could turn this around really quickly if they started a PR blitz tomorrow,” Harries said.

“If they really started to emphasize on the fact that they were the victim of something really nasty here, but they’re still in the community and they’re coming back stronger than ever and they still love their loyalty program members in particular…I think that they can recover fully in terms of their brand loyalty.”

After reopening, Harries says, the store needs to “come back with a vengeance in terms of some great deals,” particularly for the loyalty rewards members.

Harries points to past examples of large companies that took a serious hit but were able to recover.

“The example that people hold out is what happened with Tylenol, when [it] was contaminated, or Samsung had some very serious problems with phones overheating and burning and so on.”

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