NZ competitors ‘under-prepared’ for Chemist Warehouse arrival

CWH will be expanding its empire with a new TV show, Auckland store and four stores in North Brisbane

Chemist Warehouse’s plans for its Auckland store are now in train, with the company advertising for pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, retail managers and dispensary technicians.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are coming to New Zealand! Chemist Warehouse will be opening a brand new store in Auckland and we are inviting qualified pharmacy professionals to come on board with us and be a part of something BIG!” the group’s advertisement for pharmacists on reads.

“As part of our expansion into NZ, we are now on the lookout for highly motivated, aspiring and customer focused pharmacists to join our ever growing and well-loved family business.”

Chemist Warehouse chief operating officer Mario Tascone said that the store’s ownership would reflect the Australian experience.

“It’ll be no different to what we’ve got here,” Mr Tascone told the AJP. “It’ll be 100% pharmacist owned.”

Currently, the New Zealand ownership model provides for non-pharmacists to have up to a 49% share in a pharmacy business, but changes are underway which would permit any “fit and proper person” to own a pharmacy.

And according to a former chief executive of New Zealand’s Radius Pharmacy Group, the New Zealand market may be under-prepared for the arrival of the Australian giant.

He told that “Green Cross owns the lion’s share of the prescriptions market in New Zealand, about 70 to 90% of their revenue comes from prescriptions”.

“Chemist Warehouse will look at how they can be the dominant player and drive down current retail prices by about 20 to 25%.

“I think Green Cross are under prepared for an assault.”

Chemist Warehouse has also purchased four pharmacies in northern Brisbane’s North Lakes area: the Health Shed Discount Pharmacy at Mango Hill Marketplace, the Priceline and Terry White pharmacies at Westfield North Lakes and the Lakelands Pharmacy at Lakelands Medical, Centre.

According to the Courier-Mail, about 95% of staff at the pharmacies have accepted the opportunity to retain their jobs under the new owners and the first store, Health Shed Discount Pharmacy, will open with its new branding on September 11.

Zoe Marshall and Ed Phillips
Zoe Marshall and Ed Phillips. Image: Facebook

Mr Tascone says Chemist Warehouse is also very excited about its new TV show, which will be hosted by Zoe Marshall and Ed Phillips and will premiere on August 27 on the Seven Network.

“The first episode goes to air in two weeks, and that marries up with the House of Wellness radio show and our magazine – it’s about living well, staying well and looking fabulous.”

“I’m really excited about it,” Mr Tascone says. “I’m sick of cooking shows. It’s about time for shows on health and wellness on TV, and hopefully it will be a very strong show and bring in our suppliers for the ride.

“It’s got its own independent website as well, it’s a good portal for customers to engage and ask questions. Gerald Quigley is our resident pharmacist on our website and will be part of the show every week, answering people’s questions.

“It’s all health and wellness topics, practical advice, simple stuff like baby sleeping and Gerald is really good at answering a lot of questions with relevance to customers.”

As for Chemist Warehouse’s plans to expand further, Mr Tascone says opening new stores will remain “business as usual”.

“Where there’s opportunity we’ll open. We’ve got a lot of new partners coming through as part of our pre-reg and training program, and they get an opportunity with these programs to own their own stores, so it’s business as usual really.

“We want to make sure our stores remain as relevant to the Australian public as we can.

“It’s a good place to be – a good opportunity for young kids to go through their training with us, do their internship and hopefully own a store, so it’s a very good career path within our organisation.

“If they don’t want to have ownership ambitions, there’s a lot of other career paths, with our professional services programs which are rolling out all the time, that’s really on the go.”

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