SHAWNEE, Okla. -- Pratt Discount Foods here has purchased two in-store pharmacies that had been owned and independently operated on a leased-space basis by an outside firm.
The acquisition's main benefit will be in helping Pratt Foods advance its "whole health" marketing plan, which is centered around the pharmacy, said J.B. Pratt, owner and chief executive officer.
"It's a real opportunity for us," he said. "Internally, it's going to be a whole lot easier to develop the whole-health concept, and we're going to be more profitable with our whole-health program. That's why I felt comfortable going ahead doing it."
The retailer, though small -- it currently operates nine stores, which had $80 million in 1997 sales -- is a leader in the supermarket industry's whole-health movement. The pharmacy, Pratt has said in numerous speeches before industry gatherings and in interviews with SN, is the key to drawing more health-minded shoppers to supermarkets and to securing their loyalty. An active, progressive pharmacy department, Pratt contends, can increase sales of over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbs, and even healthy foods.
The two leased-space pharmacies, both in Shawnee, made little effort to spur sales of OTC products and dietary supplements, which were located in other parts of the store, Pratt said. "There wasn't a financial incentive involved."
Pratt Foods will now be able to relocate vitamins and supplements to the pharmacy in those stores, as it has in its other stores with pharmacies. The retailer now owns all four of its in-store pharmacies and plans to open a fifth by mid-year in its Norman, Okla., store.
The acquisition, finalized one month ago, affected six pharmacists and technicians. All six, including Gordon Richards, the lead partner in the group that owned the two pharmacies, will be retained, Pratt said.
They will be required to complete a training program, devised by the University of Oklahoma School of Pharmacy, to learn nutrition and alternative-medicine counseling, Pratt added. "They'll be familiar faces for the customers, but with a new direction."
Pratt said he was able to buy the two pharmacies, which were hurting financially, for the cost of inventory. For independent pharmacies that only fill prescriptions, he noted, business conditions are worsening all the time.