Drug stores blow

HeadLine: DRUG STORES BLOW

Sunday Mail, 09/04/2000, p35
by SHAUN MILNE

HIGH Street shopping chain Woolworth’s claim plans to create hundreds
of jobs in Scotland are under threat from Government red tape.
The chain wants to open 30 US-style drug stores in a major expansion.
But they say they can’t get pharmacy licences to open late-night
Superdrug counters within the shops.
Woolworth’s claim it is putting the whole general stores project at
risk.
The shops would open until 10pm every day, selling Woolies’ traditional
range of products, as well as food and drink.
But under current rules health boards won’t issue a pharmacy licence
unless there is a real need for a chemist in the area.
Now parent firm Kingfisher is urging the Scottish Parliament to change
the regulations and make applications easier. And hundreds of jobs are
the carrot.
But if Woolies’ move fails, the only way round the problem is to buy
existing licences from their rivals – and that could cost pounds
250,000 each.
Project director Steven Round said they didn’t face this obstacle in
England and Wales.”If you want to transfer a licence there you only
have to show it is going to be in the same neighbourhood.
“But in Scotland, you have to do that and also show you won’t hurt the
other pharmacists.
“All that is happening is our plans for expansion and job creation are
being delayed by these outdated rules.
“We hope MSPs will see sense in making this change for the better.”
Kingfisher have opened two Woolworth’s General Stores in London. A
spokesman said many of their products would be cheaper than corner
shops, but not supermarkets. The stores would be sited in areas poorly
served by shopping facilities.
Ian Mullen, a pharmaceutical expert, said a licence application could
be refused if another pharmacy in the area objected.
But health boards didn’t consider the matter of convenience to the
public. “That’s why these rules should be changed,” he said.
The Government have argued that the existing laws protect the public.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: “All NHS legislation is
kept under review but there are no plans at present to change the
system.”

**

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