Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011 - (Page 18)
| SECTOR SPOTLIGHT
A healthy outlook
Katz Group Canada Ltd. redeﬁning business model to seize opportunities in ever-changing pharmacy sector | Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco
hen it comes to retail, pharmacies have always faced exceptional challenges not experienced by any other type of retailer in Canada. The reason for this, essentially, is due to the fact that pharmacies are a unique hybrid of retailer and healthcare provider. With one foot in each sector, pharmacies not only face the trials and tribulations from such market pressures as the recent recession or changing consumer demands, but also the challenges that result from government regulations and policies. “We are a highly regulated business and we also have standards of practice that we have to operate under from the colleges of pharmacy across the country,” says Russell Cohen, Executive Vice President, Industry and Government Affairs for Katz Group Canada Ltd., the country’s largest and leading integrated retail pharmacy network, with more than 1,800 corporate, franchise and independent pharmacies. In addition to this, pharmacies are the only type of retailer that, on top of all the typical retail costs, also employ highly trained professionals who naturally expect a professional-level salary and corresponding beneﬁts. As if all this weren’t enough, in order to be able to track prescriptions for accuracy and safety purposes, pharmacies need to make a signiﬁcant investment in technology that dwarfs that of many other retailers. And, though the sector has always faced exceptional challenges, in recent years those challenges have become even more difficult to manage as one provincial government after another has introduced changes that have lowered generic drug prices—and pharmacies’ revenues—while at the same time increasing the scope of practice for pharmacists to include more services to patients directly. LEGISLATION OFFERING OPPORTUNITIES “Pharmacies are facing a paradox,” says Jeff Poston, Executive Director of the Canadian Pharmacists Association. “But I think the major challenge is for pharmacists to successfully take advantage of the expansion in scope of practice that’s being allowed. That’s going to require becoming even more organized and equipped in establishing a pharmacy practice that takes advantage of the legislation.” From the start, Katz Group Canada Ltd., with its Rexall™ family of pharmacies operating as Rexall, Rexall Pharma Plus, The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, Guardian and I.D.A. stores across the country, looked at this challenge and saw a tremendous opportunity.
“We deﬁnitely want our pharmacists seen by the public as frontline healthcare professionals, in addition to providing vital retail services. The more of these services we provide, the more we engage the public, the more the public starts to recognize the value they’ve always received from pharmacies.”
– RUSSEL COHEN, KATZ GROUP CANADA LTD.
“We prefer to focus on identifying the opportunities this is going to provide for us and concentrate on the ways we are going to turn those opportunities into a redeﬁned business model that’s going to be good for our patients, the government and the private payers and our business. And I think we’re ﬁnding good ways to do that,” says Cohen. CHANGING TIMES – A SHIFTING FOCUS For Katz, redeﬁning the business model has meant that they’ve needed to take advantage of these changing times. The company has always been focused on being a pharmacy ﬁrst. Its pharmacists, says Cohen, have always provided services to its patients that have gone beyond dispensing prescription drugs. The shift in government legislation is simply recognizing and formalizing these services—and providing compensation for them for the ﬁrst time. And that is an opportunity for Katz to increase its services and strengthen the relationship its pharmacists have with their patients. “How does the public see us, as retailers or healthcare professionals?” asks Cohen. “We’ve been seen historically as retailers, but that dynamic has ﬁnally shifted,” says Cohen. “Perhaps government has advanced the timetable to do something we knew we had to do anyway. And that is why we need to shift our focus. While we’re never going to lose sight of the focus on the product services and the dispensing activities, we’ve been able to stand back and say as a result of the changes, ‘How do we want to position ourselves? ‘How do we want the public to see pharmacists going forward?’ And we deﬁnitely want our pharmacists seen by the public as frontline healthcare professionals, in addition to providing vital retail services. The more of
18 | canadian retailer | summer 2011 | retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011
Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011
In Your Best Interest
Training and Education
Have Your Say
Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011