Toronto-based Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. said Monday it's being sued for $1 billion by two of its licensed associate-owners.

The suit claims breach of contract by the pharmacy company.

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Shoppers provided few details but said the plaintiffs, who are seeking class-action status, claim the company collected or kept money or benefits beyond what was permitted in its contract with them.

The company said the lawsuit is without merit. None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit have been tested in court.

If a judge grants class-action status, the plaintiffs and their lawyers would sue or negotiate on behalf of all Shoppers associate-owners and share any compensation with them.

At the beginning of October, Shoppers had 1,181 stores owned and operated by associate pharmacists.

Shoppers has a network of independently owned stores operating under the Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix, Shoppers Simply Pharmacy and Pharmaprix Simplement Sante banners.

Shoppers provides the capital and financial support to enable the associates to run the business without any initial investment.

In return for getting a package of services from Shoppers, including use of its various trademarks, the associates pay fees.

Shoppers shares closed Monday at $37.49, down 14 cents or 0.4 per cent, on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

With files from The Canadian Press