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Superdrug plans refocus on healthcare and online boost

Health and beauty chain plans to replicate the most successful elements of its new-look Banbury store, which has a larger pharmacy area and a more extensive selection of healthcare products

Superdrug has set out ambitious plans to boost the healthcare side of its business by launching new-look stores and developing its online offering.

Superdrug stores would be revamped to make the healthcare and pharmacy elements of the business more prominent, senior figures told C+D at the launch of its new-look store in Banbury last week (May 1).

The multiple revealed it would monitor customer response to the Banbury store, which has a larger pharmacy area and more extensive selection of healthcare products, and replicate the most successful elements of the design in other branches.

The new-look Banbury store features a larger pharmacy area and more extensive selection of healthcare products

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Superdrug would also develop its online pharmacy offering to cater for customers who did not have a pharmacy in their local branch of the health and beauty chain, superintendent pharmacist Christine Burbage told C+D in an exclusive interview.

Increasing the use of technology was the "next stage" for the business, which already offered an online doctor service and a "very popular" click-and-collect delivery service, Ms Burbage said.

Ms Burbage acknowledged that Superdrug had previously focused on beauty, and that it had been a "challenge" to get healthcare recognised as a significant part of the business. But she said healthcare was now at the forefront of the multiple's plans. "We're putting the focus back on health, which is the right thing to do," she said.

A driving factor in the change had been the appointment of Steve Gray as healthcare director 18 months ago, a position that did not previously exist, Ms Burbage added.

Mr Gray said customer demand had also fuelled the strategy. "In the past few years, we've really focused on beauty, which has been very successful for us, but maybe the healthcare part has been a little bit neglected," he told C+D. "We knew our healthcare offering maybe wasn't as good as the customers needed it to be, so we needed to make our pharmacy and healthcare stand out more in store."

Superdrug currently has 800 branches, of which 226 have a pharmacy.

In March, Superdrug announced that it had stopped selling alcohol as part of a trial in five non-pharmacy branches in response to negative feedback from an MP and customers.

Watch C+D features editor Emma Weinbren discuss Superdrug's healthcare strategy.

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