HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Daryl Katz sensed the time was right to get out of drug retail business BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 04, 2016

What was Daryl Katz doing, selling his Rexall drug store chain upon which he built his current fortune, for $3 billion to American pharmaceutical giant McKesson? It’s about being where the puck is going, not where it is. It’s about long-term vision, strategic transformation and deliberate disruption, about Katz becoming a global business player, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg. In the drug retail business, Katz sensed the time to exit is now, while the going is still good. Rexall is primarily a bunch of drugstores, but the North America drug business is increasingly consolidating into “vertical integration”. The same mega-companies, i.e. McKesson, manufacture, distribute and retail drugs. Katz didn’t see himself in drug manufacturing and distribution. He saw the storm clouds on the horizon if Rexall continued as only a drug retailer. Obviously he was offered good coin to sell to McKesson. Buying the Oilers in 2008, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks’ Weekly Dish: Best fast-food burger in town BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 01, 2016

Two years ago, the Weekly Dish went searching for the best fast-food burger in town. The Harvey's Angus Burger finished on top at 4.5 out of 5 Suns, pursued by the A&W Poppa Burger (4.25 Suns). Then came the pack: The Fatburger Baby Burger (3.5 Suns), a Burger King Double Whopper (3.25 Suns), Wendy's Bacon Deluxe Single (3 Suns), the McDonald's Quarter Pounder (3 Suns), and Dairy Queen's Grill Burger (2.5 Suns). Edmonton has since experienced an American burger invasion. Three franchises -- Five Guys, Smashburger and Carl's Jr -- have moved into the 'burbs. St. Albert's Jack's Burger Shack has made a name for itself, as has the two-outlet Rodeo Burger. Alberta's Burger Baron group started way back in the '60s. Part II of the War of the Classic Burgers, the rules: The venue had to be a burger joint, had to be fast-food The burgers had to have bacon and cheese with one big meat patty or a double. If there was a signature burger, that's what we ate. Have prices ever jumped! Burgers in 2014 wer ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Diversification and KMT Hepatech BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2016

In Northern Alberta, “diversification” is near impossible. At least 30% of the $306 billion that moved around Alberta’s economy in 2014 (the last year for which the province has these numbers) came directly from oil and gas production. CAPP – the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – pushes that figure up to 42% when including energy-sector dependents like oilfield maintenance, fabrication, accounting, legal services and so on. It’s pie-in-the-sky, quite ridiculous to suggest – as have several of our current provincial cabinet ministers – that Alberta can transition away from gas and oil production, yet maintain our quality of life. The answer, articulated so well by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and badly articulated by Alberta’s current New Democrat government, is that “diversification” should be primarily directed to the industry that we are really, really good at. The production, transportation and end-use of fossil ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Pampa celebrates meat BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2016

Pampa Brazilan Steakhouse 9929-109 St. 780-756-7030 pampasteakhouse.com Mon. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Friday, 10 p.m.) Sat. 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (brunch), 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns There are days I feel so sorry for vegetarians. Like the February 18th fifth anniversary party and YouCan Youth Services fund-raiser at the Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse. Guests feasted on leg of lamb, pork sausage, parmesan-crusted pork loin, bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, rump roast … and that was just the beginning. Pampa celebrates meat, in all its glory. If the Noorish and Padmanadi restaurants are nirvana to the vegetarian/vegan set, Pampa is heaven come to earth for meat-lovers. Five years ago, Edmontonian Oscar Lopez combined his love of Brazil’s steakhouses – born from working in that country, his hospitality background, his freshly minted University of Alberta MBA, his B ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Northlands, an existential crisis BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2016

While the city has been all a-buzz about Northland Park’s Vision 2020 that was released on Wednesday, an existential question has not been asked. Why does the City of Edmonton still need Northlands Park? In any emotion-free analysis, the most cost-effective way forward is to reduce Northlands’ operations down to its EXPO Convention Centre and K-Days, then shut down/sell off everything else. The case is cruel, given the not-for-profit Northlands willingly brought itself to the sacrificial alter for the greater good of Edmonton. Northlands gave up all hockey-related Rexall Place profits to the Oilers to keep the team in town back in the ‘90s. It has now accepted the closure of Rexall Place, sending all those concert profits over to the equally subsidized Rogers Place. Talk about signing your own death warrant. But for all the quality-of-life and greater-good arguments within the well-reasoned Vision 2020, there’s huge risk. To survive, Northlands is likely to forever suck furious ... Read the rest of entry »

Costumes, colour and non-stop action: The Citadel Theatre's Alice Through the Looking Glass. Review by Graham Hicks

Alice Through The Looking Glass Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Feb. 27 to March 20, 2016 Adapted for the stage by James Reaney, from the Lewis Carroll classic. Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com To truly enjoy the Citadel’s frothy, Cirque de Soleil-like production of Alice Through the Looking-Glass, look not for underlying philosophy, ideology or theology. Relax, sit back, and simply enjoy the theatrical feast laid before your very eyes. This is a production of non-stop delightful  moments, showing off the ability of professional theatre to create illusion at its very finest. It’s about costume and colour, superb team-work and great comedy – mostly of the physical variety.  When this stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tones down to serious, or at least explanatory, it stumbles and goes cold as was the case in Act. 1.  Once Alice (Ellie Heath) has popped through the looking glass into her dream world (or is it the Red Kin ... Read the rest of entry »