McKesson Corp. bids for the 400-store Uniprix
Canada’s most powerful pharmacy retailers have grown powerful in a relatively stable competitive arena, but that status quo is changing. One of the Big Three U.S. drug wholesalers has serious designs on the Canadian drug store market.
McKesson Corp.’s bid for the 400-store Uniprix drug store group, Quebec’s second-largest behind Jean Coutu Group, marks a significant ramping up of its competitive strategy in Canada. It also highlights the company’s determination to protect its flanks against Coutu, Shoppers Drug Mart and Katz Group/Rexall, all of which are expanding in the province, and in particular Shoppers.
They’re lured by a market that retail analyst David Hartley, of the investment firm BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., called “highly coveted,” according to a report in the Toronto-based newspaper The Globe and Mail, “given the high number of prescriptions dispensed there.”
The numbers are telling: the average drug store in Quebec dispenses 90,000 prescriptions a year, according to the report, compared with 40,000 elsewhere in Canada. That’s the sea in which Uniprix swam, and it made the 32-year-old pharmacy distributor and drug store service company a rich prize for McKesson. Indeed, Uniprix’s drug stores generated combined total sales of nearly $1.3 billion U.S. last year, according to the Bloomberg news service.
Like its rivals, Uniprix isn’t a corporately owned drug store chain in the American sense, because of Canadian laws governing pharmacy ownership. Those laws dictate that pharmacists must directly own the stores they operate, so Uniprix is a drug store branding and marketing membership program as well as a supplier to its roughly 400 owner-operator members. If McKesson succeeds in its bid for the company, it will shift that business to the U.S. giant’s Canadian subsidiary, McKesson Canada, and give McKesson the right of first refusal to purchase other independent drug stores serviced by Uniprix.
The deal also extends the wholesaler’s reach into the business of direct drug store operations as opposed to just supply-chain services, following McKesson’s purchase last summer of another Quebec-based drug store umbrella company, Groupe PharmEssor, which serviced some 270 independent drug store members.
Abbott opens Singapore research lab
SINGAPORE A United States drug and device manufacturer announced Tuesday that it opened a laboratory in Singapore.
Abbott said the pharmaceutical analytical research laboratory opened in the Southeast Asian city-state’s Biopolis research park. The Abbott Park, Ill.-based company said the lab was its first in Southeast Asia and would conduct stability studies, including studies on active drug ingredients and novel formulations, to support regulatory requirements around the world.
“Abbott has continually increased its investment in R&D over the last decade, resulting in a promising pipeline,” Abbott SVP for pharmaceuticals research and development John Leonard said in a statement. “To realize the potential from the growth in Abbott?s early-stage pipeline requires the resources of a truly global R&D organization, and the scientific talent available in Singapore made it a logical choice for Abbott?s expansion in the region.”
The company said the work done at the lab will allow it to develop investigational medicines and deliver new treatments to patients faster in areas such as neuroscience and cancer.
Winn-Dixie implements savings program
Jacksonville, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores on Wednesday announced the roll out of a savings program to help customers stretch their grocery dollars simply by using their Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card.
Shoppers can enjoy savings throughout the store in five different ways. The program offers “Buy One Get One Free” deals, “10 for $10” items, quarterly “Good ‘Til” sales, Winn-Dixie brand products, which feature everyday savings, and new monthly “Locked-In Low Price” specials.
Winn-Dixie rolled out the new program last week using in-store signage, its circular advertisements and both TV and Radio campaigns. Each component focuses on the five ways to save, and encourages customers to shop their neighborhood Winn-Dixie.
“In these difficult economic times, our customers are looking for new ways to save at their neighborhood Winn-Dixie,” stated Dan Portnoy, Winn-Dixie’s chief merchandising and marketing officer. “The ‘I Saved’ program is one way we can offer our customers a fresh and local shopping experience with the value they deserve.”
Winn-Dixie customers save every time they use their Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card on thousands of specially marked items throughout the store. Manufacturers’ coupons also apply, which allows shoppers to save even more.