Pharmacy Healthy competition
Clicks, you will recall, now has 224 in-store dispensaries in its 354 stores. Shoprite, next off the blocks, has 100 and counting, quite rapidly. Pick n Pay has 17 in its Hypers, and despite the fact that Pharmacy doesn’t offer anywhere near the margins but does offer twice the headaches of Liquor, they plan on rolling out another 40 in short order. SPAR is trialling a couple, something Woolworths has not done very well – despite their deal with Netcare who were going to be getting the licenses and running the dispensaries. In 2003 legislation was passed to the effect that pharmacies, once the preserve of actual pharmacists, could now be owned by anyone, which meant open season on the now-struggling independent pharmacy sector. Pharmacy licenses are still only issued by the Department of Health, who apparently do it seldom and at random, to the frustration of the big boys.
Comment: The one advantage privately-owned pharmacy has over the corporate dispensary, is of course the personal care and service on offer – something for which many South Africans still seem willing to pay.