Competition really heating up in Canada

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that Target has revealed the locations of its first 12 stores in Quebec is just one more reminder that the competition in Canada is really going to heat up.

(THE NEWS: Target confirms locations of 12 Quebec debut stores. For the full story, click here)

As previously reported, Target snapped up the leasehold interests of 189 sites currently operated by Zellers and plans to open 125 to 135 stores in Canada, the majority of which will open in 2013.

Meanwhile, Loblaw Cos. is gearing up for Target’s entry into Canada with its acquisition of 95 Zellers pharmacies script files, excluding British Columbia and Quebec locations, the Financial Post recently reported. Analysts hailed Loblaw’s deal as a “huge win” for the retailer as it will enable Loblaw to gain market intelligence as it aims to ramp up its 500 stores’ volume and potentially acquires some long-term business, the Financial Post reported. The Financial Post noted that Loblaw has been adding pharmacies to its banners across Canada, including No Frills. It also has been pushing health and wellness to its grocery shoppers.

The ramped up pharmacy competition in Canada comes at a time when patients there increasingly are tapping into the healthcare knowledge, expertise and services available at their local pharmacies. A recent Nielsen survey commissioned by the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores found that it’s no longer enough for a pharmacy to be a place where medication and advice are dispensed — 96% of nearly 6,000 respondents surveyed believed that it's important for their pharmacist to play an increased role and work closely with their doctor to optimize care.

Furthermore, the study found that 72% of respondents indicated that they have talked to their pharmacist about health issues beyond their prescribed medication. The most common subject was the treatment of minor ailments (41%), such as mild burns or insect bites. Advice on vitamins and supplements (26%) and dealing with adverse medication reactions (24%) also were commonly discussed.

There’s no doubt that Canada is a hotbed of activity within the pharmacy market, and industry eyes will be closely watching those north of the border for some time to come.

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