His beginnings

Jean Coutu

Date of birth: May 29, 1927

City: Montréal

Family: The eldest of three children

First Jean Coutu pharmacy, located at 4605 Sainte-Catherine Street E.,

at the corner of Aird (1960)
Photo credit : Jean Coutu Archives 


Jean Coutu is the firstborn in a family of three children. He owes his flair for business to his grandfather, who ran a hotel, and his interest in health care to his father, who was a doctor. From a very young age, Jean Coutu embodied his family’s values, such as a sense of duty and sharing.

By 1960, Jean Coutu had earned a degree in pharmacy from Université de Montréal and acquired his first pharmacy at the corner of Aird Avenue and Sainte Catherine Street in Montréal. His interpersonal skills and friendliness quickly touched the hearts of people in the neighbourhood, and he became part of their daily lives.

Clients in a Jean Coutu discount pharmacy (1970s)
Photo credit : Jean Coutu archives

Photo centres of a Jean Coutu discount pharmacy (1970s)
Photo credit : jean coutu archives

The young pharmacist was struck by the fact that, at that time, some of his customers could not benefit from the same discounts as doctors and other professionals. So, in 1969 he opened his first discount pharmacy in Montréal, taking a risk and becoming the first pharmacist to extend these discounts to everyone. He quickly grasped the value of listening to customers and offering them quality products at the best possible price. This became one of his competitive advantages.

A true institution, Pharmacie Montréal was the largest pharmacy in the world at the time, and became Jean Coutu Group’s first franchised pharmacy (October 18, 1973)
Photo credit : jean coutu archives

Inspired by self-service grocery stores, which were popping up across the province at the time, Jean Coutu’s idea for a pharmacy was an overnight success and paved the way for the Jean Coutu Group’s franchise network.

clip from Jean coutu’s interview, cercle des grands entrepreneurs du québec – only available in french