Its 65,000-square-foot distribution center and 20,000-square-foot head office in Edmonton serves as base for Value Drug Mart and is solely owned by the Value Drug Mart store owners. This makes Value Drug Mart a very unique entity. “We have many owners who are longtime members,” says Clay Thompson, vice president and chief operating officer. “Some of these family owned operations are now in their second generation of ownership.”
A lot has changed with the company during the past number of years. In the beginning the company was formed to provide centralized marketing and promotional purchasing services to its member stores and it grew from there.
The current warehouse facility was acquired in 1998 and marked the growth of the company from a promotional distribution operation to a full line pharmaceutical and front-of-store distribution facility. “We have a very modern distribution unit,” Thompson notes. “It provides front-of-the-store items and pharmaceuticals on a daily basis.” The distribution center utilizes bar code receiving and put away, paperless invoicing and an automated conveyor carousel system to maximize productivity.
Meanwhile, Value Drug Mart pharmacists’ standards of practice are based on complete dedication to patients. “Our pharmacists are totally focused on their patients,” Thompson says. “They make sure the patient experience in the pharmacy is welcoming and focused on the best possible treatment outcomes. It is their ongoing standards of patient care that sets them apart in their community.”
All of the owner-pharmacists have been in practice for a long time and get to know the patients of their individual stores, Thompson says, allowing them to provide a high standard of personalized service.
These high standards of practice allow the member stores to thrive despite the challenges pharmacy faces in the Alberta market place. Over the past few years, changes to the drug pricing policy in Alberta have made it necessary for all stores to reexamine their business practices to ensure they continue to offer that high standard of patient care they have delivered in the past.
“While our stores are operating with reduced revenues due the pricing changes that have occurred in the past two years they continue to provide their patients with the same high level of service,” Thompson says.
The distribution side of the business has also been challenged by the changes to drug pricing but the companies focus on the application of productivity focused technology has enable the warehouse to continue to offer the member stores and other customers the same great level of service they have provided in the past.
“The changes in pricing policy and their impact on the pharmacies make the company’s marketing plans all the more important” declares Thompson. A strong flyer program focused on a wide array of traditional drug store goods as well as food, confectionary, household and seasonal items are offered to entice customers into the stores.
While competition in the pharmacy sector has increased as more and more corporate entities look to enter some of the smaller Alberta markets, Value Drug Mart and its member stores are well equipped to deal with new competition in their communities. Value Drug Mart stores carry a wide gamut of merchandise such as health care products, vitamins, herbals, standard HBA and household items, cosmetics, food and confectionary as well as giftware unique to the store and their community. “When a new store opens in town, it can be a challenge,” Thompson notes, “but our stores are able to deal with the new competition because of their ability to focus on the customer’s needs while offering greater levels of service, quality care and competitive prices.”
Value Drug Mart members have consistently reinvested in their communities by continuing to update their stores to provide a better shopping environment for their customers. “I am continually impressed with our store owner’s belief in their communities and businesses as they continue to reinvest in their stores. Many have updated, renovated or rebuilt their facilities over the past few years to ensure their customers and patients can be treated to warm, professional shopping experience,” Thompson says.
“Our tradition of locally owned, community-minded service remains alive and well wherever our stores operate,” Value Drug Mart says. “For pharmacists who believe in the power of individual entrepreneurship and professional collaboration, it means getting the right support – support for marketing, for services, for resources – that allow them to serve their customers with pride and distinction.”