Joint venture planning supermarket pharmacies
Countdown is putting pharmacies in its supermarkets, starting with two trial stores in Newtown, in Wellington, and in Palmerston North.
The pharmacies within existing stores will open in December, offering prescription and pharmacy-only medicines. Each Countdown Pharmacy will be operated by trained and registered professional pharmacists.
The supermarket chain plans to leverage its buying and distribution power to offer leading medicines at lower prices than currently available, says one of the partners, Lindsay Smith.
Countdown plans to extend the pharmacies to other stores next year but will not confirm projected numbers.
The business will be a joint venture partnership with Mr Smith, a Kiwi pharmacist who was a founding member of the Amcal brand.
He also owned and operated the first pharmacy to be set up inside a supermarket in New Zealand, at what was then Foodtown in Quay St, Auckland.
Countdown is owned by Progressive Enterprises, which at the time had a second supermarket pharmacy in Auckland's Greenlane. The stores operated for only a few years before being closed some years ago.
Countdown Pharmacy business manager Jeremy Armes said the full-service pharmacy model would be operated as a store within a store by a full-time pharmacist, featuring a private consultation room and a full range of prescription and pharmacy-only medicines.
Mr Armes said the difference between the current and former concept was space. Previously the pharmacies in the supermarkets had only about 20sqm of space, which made for a very small dispensary for medicines and a limited retail offer, he said.
“I think it lacked a bit of credibility with the customers."
This time around the company had allocated more room so the pharmacies could offer a full product range, complementing health and beauty products already sold in the supermarkets.
The Wellington store will sit on 60sqm and the Rangitikei St store in Palmerston North on 120sqm.
Another factor was a new dispensing industry agreement, which widens the services pharmacies can offer but that component was reliant on having a consultation room.
“We've done lots of customer research on this and one of the reservations that customers had in using supermarket-based pharmacies is privacy - some people aren't comfortable talking about their ailments in a public arena," Mr Armes said.
The Countdown pharmacies will follow the extended supermarket opening hours from 9am to 8pm seven days a week.
Foodstuffs, the country's other major supermarket chain, said that providing pharmacy services to customers was not new.
“We have been leasing property adjacent to our stores to pharmacists or providing similar services nationwide for many years,” spokeswoman Antoinette Shallue said.
- © Fairfax NZ News