High rent and price disclosure may be factors in the uncertainty over the future of two Queensland pharmacies, say local media

Administrators have been appointed to handle the liquidation of Terry White Chemists and Priceline in Stockland Rockhampton, according to the Morning Bulletin.

On Thursday 16 February it was uncertain whether the two stores, which had been closed for two days, would reopen for trading, but both stores were open on Friday.

A message on the Terry White’s Facebook page said that “Terry White and Priceline Pharmacies will reopen at 9.30am Friday 17th February for trade. Please come and support us.”

Andrew Schwartz of AS Advisory and Matt Adams of FTI Consulting were appointed administrators of the stores on Wednesday, and said they had been in discussions with “other parties” who might be interested in buying the businesses.

Mr Schwartz told the Bulletin that they intended to keep the pharmacy’s roughly 40 staff employed.

“We are working towards trying to recapitalise the business with a view to the business going forward,” he said.

The administration process is expected to take about four weeks.

The closure has been a shock to the pharmacies’ staff, who were “visibly upset” on Wednesday when they were given the news.

The closed Terry White store had a sign in its window that only said, “Due to electrical problems the store will not be opening today”, directing ATODS and dosing patients to an alternative outlet.

Later that day, the owners wrote on Facebook that they were “working hard to have an outcome” and would deliver all medication and packs.

“All customers that have medication with Terry White and Priceline are being cared for by us the owners!” they wrote.

According to the Morning Bulletin, rental costs of $70,000 per month were a significant issue for the Terry White store.

“Other pressures which may have impacted the businesses include major changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” reporters speculated.

“The impact has seen the bottom line of the average pharmacy reduced by about $30,000 per year, on top of the $60,000 impact from existing arrangements.”

Customers and suppliers have expressed their support for the pharmacies on Facebook.

“Best people ever. Unreal owners,” wrote one customer. “I’m so devastated what has happened.”

“When we lived in the Rockhampton district, Terry White Chemist was our preferred pharmacy, it is hard to imagine the shopping centre without it!” said another. “Such a shame! If the rent for shop space is so expensive, I don’t know how any business survives!”