The supergroup factor

Terry White shopfront

AJP editor Chris Brooker reflects on what the rise of the super banner group may mean to community pharmacy

Crosby, Stills and Nash (and Young, though he was better than the rest), Cream, Velvet Revolver, The Travelling Willburys.

All supergroups, not all very good….

What’s the relevance to pharmacy? Well, there’s increasing talk about how community pharmacy franchise power is gradually concentrating in a handful of super-banner groups.

The rise and rise of the Chemist Warehouse/My Chemist conglomeration, plus Priceline, Terry White Chemmart, Amcal/Guardian etc.

When you consider the Pharmacy Guild was first formed to counter the entry into Australia of the British Boots chain in the 1920s, it’s interesting to see how the ‘enemy’ within will be countered.

But can they be countered? Are these banners – not to mention potentially very powerful new entrant Ramsay – really the enemy?

If we all accept that community pharmacy’s future remains as a close version of the current retail shop model, then what harm is there in very well-run and organised business enterprises? They will survive and continue to prosper. They have something a lot of consumers want.

While the power on a super discounter opening near an existing pharmacy might mean its death knell, it might not if that pharmacy is prepared to work hard to reinvent itself (and granted it needs to have the right capital, location and demographic to do this).

Not far from our office, a seemingly successful, long-established pharmacy seems to continue along quite well just TWO DOORS away from a Chemist Warehouse.

The differences between the two businesses are stark. One full of stock, floor to ceiling, with a rather claustrophobic feel. You can’t see the prescription counter at the back of the store. The other, sparse of product, but inviting you to the prescription/consult area at the back of the store, which is very visible.

Stand out and be different. Don’t just rehash the old songs.

Regards, Chris 

*This editorial originally appeared in the December AJP magazine

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