We are told on exceptionally good authority that SPAR are in the process of buying pharmacy wholesaler business, S Buys. This is big news: SPAR are going great, and indeed green, guns into pharmacy, growing their portfolio from zero to 82 stores in just five or so years, with 36 more in the pipeline. S Buys is a full-line pharmaceutical wholesaler that services pharmacies, hospitals and doctors as well as the State and NGOs, and in the context of SPAR will be supplying the owner-run stores the business is adding furiously to the family – with an end goal of as many as 400, enough, certainly, to give pause to Clicks and Dis-Chem, and to arouse the envy of Pick n Pay, whose experiment in pharmacy has not been that successful, and Shoprite, which also hasn’t made the splash one might have expected.
Comment: Why would SPAR be any different? Well, Clicks has done pretty well by owning its own wholesaler, for starters, and Shoprite owns one too. And the small-business model that works so well for SPAR probably finds a certain resonance with pharmacists, who are by and large a fiercely independent bunch.