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Superdrug credits EHC and chicken pox jabs for funding cuts survival

Superdrug: Investing in stores and online has helped us avoid the impact of the funding cuts
Superdrug: Investing in stores and online has helped us avoid the impact of the funding cuts

A generic emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) pill and private chicken pox vaccinations have helped Superdrug survive the funding cuts in England, it has told C+D.

Superdrug posted profits of £72.8 million for 2017 – an 8.2% increase on the previous year, the group said in its financial report published last week (July 3).

There was “strong growth across [its] pharmacy portfolio”, including 40% year-on-year growth for its online doctor service – which dispenses products directly to patients or to Superdrug pharmacies to collect in store – and 14% growth across its NHS services – which include the new medicine service and medicines use reviews, Superdrug told C+D.

Superdrug’s private services, including travel vaccinations, also saw 45% year-on-year growth in 2017, the multiple added.

Pharmacy "firsts"

Superdrug’s profit growth comes at the same time that Lloydspharmacy’s parent company blamed the funding cuts in England and a drop in prescription volume for a fall in its income in the UK.

This followed Boots’ latest financial report, in which it attributed its own 2.8% drop in sales in pharmacies on fewer prescriptions and cuts to funding.

Superdrug said its "robust and proven strategy" of investing in high street stores and its online services, as well as "leading the market by introducing 'firsts'", has helped it avoid the impact of the funding cuts in England.

In 2017, Superdrug was the “first major high street health retailer to introduce a generic EHC” pill and it “led the market” by introducing a private chicken pox vaccination service for children and adults not covered by the NHS scheme, it claimed.

Last month, Boots followed suit by also offering a private chicken pox vaccine for the same price of £65 per jab.

Smoking cessation and expansion plans

Superdrug's healthcare and wellbeing division saw an 8% growth compared with the previous year, supported by “strong performances” in smoking cessation and vitamins, Superdrug said in its financial report.

The company – which owns over 200 pharmacies across the UK – celebrated its 25th pharmacy anniversary in 2017 and launched an online repeat prescription service to mark the occasion.

Superdrug said it will continue to invest in its pharmacy services by “expanding the amount of health clinics” across the UK in 2019.

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Interesting that Boots and Superdrug are offering and promoting the chicken pox vaccine.

I thought the NHS didn't offer it routinely because it would lead to more severe cases of shingles later in life (as well as the cost of offering of course). The safer approach in most cases being to let children get it early and become naturally resistant.

Obviously I know other places offer the vaccine, but larger chains promoting this service will surely lead to the "worried well" getting something they don't really need?

SIMON MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

Really ? That’s an awful lot of EHC to sell to make up for lost dispensing revenue - unless most of their stores do as much dispensing as our local one in which case they never hit the threshold for establishment payment anyway and therefore haven’t sufferered its savage slashing.

I’d be having to seek about 100 cheap ehc a day to make up my losses !

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

I know the store you are talking about.

However, I must say that Superdrug treated me with a great deal of respect when I worked there, and I gather that the staff all enjoyed working there too. So, they must be doing something right that the other multiples are not doing.

I wish the company well. It's unfortunate in this day and age that you need to make your working environment like a concentration camp to make money. (Not talking about you Simon!).

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