Independent pharmacy still healthy

Reports of the incipient demise of independent pharmacies have been greatly exaggerated, says a spokesperson for Symbion.

Last week the Courier Mail published an article, Pharmacy Wars: the prescription for success in a saturated market, in which reporter Jacinta Tutty discussed competition between the major chains, based on a July report by IBISWorld.

“Traditional independent community pharmacies are a dying breed, being replaced by big box discount chains, with franchise models becoming increasingly commonplace,” the story said.

While according to IBISWorld only about 12% of pharmacies are entirely independent, they’re not dying at all, says Brett Barons, executive general manager – Pharmacy at Symbion.

“There will always be a strong independent pharmacy network in Australia,” Barons told the AJP today.

“We see that in Europe and even in the United States where large drug store chains operate.

“The key to the survival of independents in the future is the support they have to operate their businesses. As consolidation occurs in the industry, an independent will need to rely on proven support so they can focus on customer service.”

The IBISWorld report said that due to changes in consumer behaviour, there was less demand for traditional community pharmacies, resulting in the growth of large discounters.

“Over the past decade, traditional community pharmacies have undergone significant changes,” said IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst Arna Richardson.

“Intensifying retail competition from new internal and external operators, such as discount pharmacies and supermarkets, have altered the industry’s operating landscape, particularly as a growing number of operators rely on promotional discounting.

“Consumers have been increasingly purchasing pharmacy products, including over-the-counter products, from supermarkets.

“For example, many supermarkets are now stocking a range of widely used non-scheduled medicines. This has reduced demand for traditional pharmacies.”

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