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Rowlands boss goes undercover for Channel 4

Undercover Boss, featuring Rowlands Pharmacy managing director Kenny Black, will air on August 5 at 9pm on Channel 4

Managing director Kenny Black found staff "over-worked and under-appreciated" during an episode of Undercover Boss, which he decided to appear on both to raise the profile of pharmacy and highlight the difficulties faced by the sector

Rowlands Pharmacy's managing director found staff "over-worked and under-appreciated" after going undercover in his own company for a Channel 4 programme.


Kenny Black saw shortages of "life-saving" drugs and witnessed one of his delivery drivers moved to tears by his job, according to the synopsis for an episode of Undercover Boss.


In the series, executives pose as workers in various parts of their company to understand how to fix their businesses. 


Mr Black told C+D he decided to go on the show, which airs at 9pm next Tuesday (August 5) to get a "real insight" into the challenges facing his company.


"Of course I was conscious of the risk involved, especially handing over editorial control, but this really was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down. I saw this as an experience to not only raise the profile of Rowlands but pharmacy as a whole, explaining the difficulties myself and my industry colleagues face every day," he told C+D.





Rowlands, which owns 510 pharmacy branches across the UK, had seen its turnover drop by £20 million as a result of government funding cuts and increased competition, the Channel 4 synopsis said.


"When Kenny goes undercover, there's a bitter pill to swallow: he discovers life-saving medicines out of stock and staff over-worked and under-appreciated. [He] is forced to consider if he has more to worry about than the bottom line," it said.


In 2012, Mr Black warned that a rise in applications for 100-hour pharmacies could create significant competition for Rowlands.



What would your boss discover if he or she went undercover?

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21 Comments

AMANDA WHITEHEAD, Pharmacy technician

As suspected an ex pharmacist who sits in an office knows absolutely nothing about the daily running of a pharmacy nowadays walks in and thinks he knows what he is talking about. I really hope for his sake he was not responsible for over seeing a prescription and allowed it to leave the pharmacy ( is he up to date with his cpd?). I have worked for the last 27 years in an independent pharmacy and have heard from so many locums who work and have worked for these large companies and hate it. Rowlands only use their own wholesalers we are a one man band with eight wholesalers at hand and keep our stocks up to date. However patients seem to favour shiny leaflets and pretty vans untill there prescripton does not turn up because the shiny pharmacys sister wholesaler has no stock, then what happens the small independent pharmacies step in. Out with the big names and in with the independent (caring staff and do not have to go through life worring about targets) pharmacies.

bernard brandon, Community pharmacist

Kenny Black saw the same as any other large pharmacy chain MD would have seen. It is obvious the area managers and above do not report the truth about store conditions to their superiors, from my experience as a relief pharmacist (retired)

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Unlike the branch he worked in he didn't have loads prescription baskets to be made up from previous day and methadone addicts at the door before the shop opened,I bet the manager must have worked their b*****ks off the previous day to get it ready.
Also it a poor show when employees do not know their main boss or is a bad reflection on the boss poor communication!
The best thing would be for Rowland's to get rid of Kenny black who lost 10 million he came out very badly out of the show very much out of touch no wonder Mimi lau numark jumped ship early in a career.
Sell Rowland's to a equity group or bestway so can compete with boots and lloyds.
Also antiquated picking in stock what no computer picking unbelievable what's Kenny black doing in his office can't he see what his competitors are doing.
Also the worrying thing is if he one the main people in the pharmacy world like others such sue sharpe etc,etc no wonder pharmacy is shafted and the DH run ring around the leaders.
Doesn't take a brain surgeon to get rid of the tat but I am quite happy to paided as a consultant to advise, quite cheap just give take me to a good curry house any good ones in London ?

Frustrated Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I love the way he 'fixed' the medicine shortages problem - just get another supplier on board - easy! So it was a pharmacy problem all along... and MCS was just a figment of our imagination? Cheers Kenny... pharmacy takes the blame again.

Another Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Read all about it

"Multiple hires extra staff member"
"Boots, Lloyds & BestPharm to follow Rowlands innovative lead."

That last part may not be true.

Anne Butler, Locum pharmacist

Having just watched this, I found the most amazing bit is he didn't speak to any Pharmacists. They're presumably not important, or was it "only the locum"

Last time I was in a branch that was nearly a day behind and baskets piled up on every surface to be checked, and I said to the area manager that the branch was understaffed,I got the comment"thats a matter of opinion". No thats a matter of fact.

Most groups are in the same situation. overworked and understaffed.

Call Me Cycnical, Senior Management

I hope this gives Rowlands a wake up call. Its full of people sleeping in head office. I've been there for meetings with Senior people who cant make decisions.
Why employ managers who cant manage? The culture is all wrong and lacks innovation. No wonder £21million has dropped off its sales, its not just Cat M to blame!

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

Any chance Earl Howe will watch this? Only if C4 sends him his own copy and forces him to watch I suspect.

Even then he will probably think it a work of fiction!

Farmer Giles, Work for a pharmaceutical company

This is all due to the fact that there is a cartel in the Uk and it gives licence for the multiples to abuse their position

Stuart Reeve, Community pharmacist

Well done Mr Black.

Jayne Finch, Community pharmacist

Well this should make for interesting viewing. I am looking forward to seeing how it will have been edited in production. I used to think I worked in a profession but feel more like a production line robot involved in the supply of medicines. As a locum I am lucky to have the choice of where and when I work; most pharmacies have amazing teams all trying to do their best. However I have told my children to become electricians and plumbers because they appear valued and are paid a better hourly rate :)

Getting paid a 'better hourly rate' is only better if you work the same number of hours per day / week as a plumber as you would as a pharmacist.
I would suggest dentistry as a lucrative and rewarding alternative

Jayne Finch, Community pharmacist

It was up for discussion....daughter's response; "bad breath and saliva no thanks Mum!"

Kieran Eason, Superintendent Pharmacist

If it highlights stock shortages and explains to the public how they're out of our hands this will be excellent!

Hayley Johnson, Community pharmacist

"sorry, there is a manufacturing problem on that at the moment"

"But I need it"

"yes, I understand, but there is an manufacturing problem on it at the moment. We don't have any in stock"

"But, but, but I need it"

Repeat x20!

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

"He discovers life-saving medicines out of stock and staff over-worked and under-appreciated"

Is he for real? Has he never ventured into one of his own pharmacies before? (Or any other, for that matter!)

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

How about DoH sending undercover bosses to other multiples as well and to the GPhC HQ ?? That would be interesting !!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Boots!! haha

Farmer Giles, Work for a pharmaceutical company

In 2012, Mr Black warned that a rise in applications for 100-hour pharmacies could create significant competition for Rowlands.

So now you want immunity from competition?

This is what they are scared of. Real competition. Imagine if the market was open to all...

Farmer Giles, Work for a pharmaceutical company

Rowlands Pharmacy's managing director found staff "over-worked and under-appreciated" after going undercover in his own company for a Channel 4 programme.

Why does it take a ch4 programme to state the obvious?

i BET YOU NOTHING WILL CHANGE...........!!!

Hot air from rowlands...!!

Chris ., Community pharmacist

I saw this advertised last night after the Pets Corner episode and am already looking forward to it. I feel that this will enlighten the public as to what it is actually like in a pharmacy and may make them more understanding of the pressures. Will MURs be mentioned however? We wait with baited breath........

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