TORONTO — Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Canada’s largest food retailer, is acquiring Shoppers Drug Mart Corp., Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, for C$12.4 billion ($11.9 billion).

“By joining forces, the combined company will be uniquely positioned to better serve Canadian consumers and have the means to bring exciting innovations to the Canadian marketplace, leading to even stronger growth and profitability,” said W. Galen Weston, executive chairman of George Weston Ltd., Loblaw’s controlling shareholder. Weston, which currently own about 62% of Loblaw, said it will buy an additional C$500 million in shares to help finance the transaction.

Shoppers Drug Mart has approximately 1,300 drug stores and 65 Shoppers Home Health Care stores throughout Canada. In addition to branded products, Shoppers Drug Mart offers a wide range of food and beverages under several private label brands. In 2008, Shoppers Drug Mart introduced Nativa Organics, the most successful private label launch in the history of the company. Subsequently, Shopper Drug Mart in 2010 introduced the Simply Food line.