Woolies chief executive Brad Banducci has penned an open letter to Australian pharmacists outlining the supermarket group’s plans for Priceline-owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, should it win out over rival Wesfarmers.
The letter, which appeared in Pharmacy Daily on Monday, comes after Wesfarmers’ boss Rob Scott said many pharmacists find the overlap between products sold across Woolworths’ stores and many pharmacies uncomfortable, and could lead to issues.
“First and foremost, Woolworths Group greatly respects the role of the local pharmacy (and indeed the role of the pharmacist) in the Australian community,” wrote Banducci.
“As I have communicated to both the leadership of your industry bodies and to Federal and State political stakeholders, Woolworths Group fully supports the existing community pharmacy model.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
“We are not here to disrupt the sector. We are here to help strengthen it.”
Banducci went on to specify that Woolworths has no intentions of relocating pharmacies into supermarkets, and said that while Woolworths and Big W do also play in the health space, he believes they offer a “fundamentally different customer experience” to pharmacies.
And, changing customer expectations provide both challenges and opportunities for the sector said Banducci, which Woolworths is keen to support the industry through: from the role and scope of pharmacists in the community to the benefits of technology and data.
“In that context, using our extensive experience in areas such as digital, loyalty, payments, analytics, and, importantly, privacy, we will work with API to support their community pharmacy partners,” Banducci said.
Banducci didn’t specify how the company would approach API-owned Priceline Pharmacy’s Sister Club data however — something franchisees are reportedly concerned about.
According to a statement from Wesfarmers last week, Priceline franchisees have expressed concern about Sister Club customer data being shared with [external] loyalty programs, such as Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards, and Wesfarmers’ partially-owned Flybuys.
Wesfarmers specified it will not share any customer data between API and Flybuys’ co-owner Coles.
This article was first published by Inside Retail.