Watsons to set up pharmacies in communities
AFTER years of identifying as a “beauty store,” health and wellness retailer Watsons Philippines is now poised to expand to the communities to cater to the public’s need for affordable generic medicine.
Sharon Presbitero, Watsons Philippines group marketing manager, said these community stores would make the retail chain more accessible to the public especially now that they are carrying more health care products.
“Our thrust right now is to strengthen our health business. We’ve been known in the Philippines as a beauty store. But our heritage, especially regionally, the brand started as a dispensary in China, as a pharmacy. We want to go back to that heritage,” she said in a press briefing during the celebration of Watson’s 500th store in the Philippines last week.
Presbitero said they chose to celebrate in Cebu City because they have “good business” here, which is reflected in the brand’s 31 mostly mall-based stores here.
She said that while majority of their stores here are located in malls, they are now looking at putting up community pharmacies in the city and the rest of the country.
In 2015, Watsons launched its own brands of health and personal care items under Watsons Generics and continues to expand its range of products.
These include over-the-counter and prescription medicines, supplements and other vitamins, among others.
Presbitero said that generic medicines are 60 to 80 percent cheaper than branded ones yet have the same effect.
Cecilia Canlas, marketing manager in charge of store openings, said they have been opening a lot of community pharmacies in Metro Manila but are also very aggressive in the Visayas–Mindanao area.
She said Watsons will end 2016 with a total of 530 stores.
“In the past, we’ve been opening a lot of stores in VisMin, particularly in Cebu, Iloilo and Davao,” she said.
Canlas explained that the stand-alone Watsons Pharmacy will still offer the same products a regular Watsons store in malls does but will have a wider range of health care items.
All over the Philippines, she said there are only about 12 stand-alone Watsons Pharmacies. However, every Watsons store also has its own pharmacy section.
While the regular Watsons stores only have the “Watsons” logo at its doorway, the community pharmacies will carry the same logo but will have an attached “pharmacy” label to it.
Canlas said they target to open 80 stores for 2016, and 100 to 120 more stores in 2017.
She said Watsons opens an average of 80 to 100 stores annually.
Watsons Philippines, which has existed in the country for 14 years, is part of the A.S. Watson chain, the world’s largest health, beauty and personal care retailer in Asia and Europe with 13 retail brands in 25 markets and a network of 12,800 stores across 37 countries.
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