UK pharmacy Boots set to open in Sweden

UK pharmacy chain Alliance Boots has confirmed its imminent plans to enter the Swedish pharmacy market in the first quarter of this year.

UK pharmacy Boots set to open in Sweden

“We hope that it will be in the first quarter,” Sverker Littorin, chairman of Boots’ local partner Farmacevtföretagarna told news agency TT on Monday.

Boots and Farmacevtföretagarna have formed a new pharmacy chain, Boots Farmacevtföretagarna AB. They expect to open 100 pharmacies in the next three years that would be run by private entrepreneurs under the Boots brand.

“We are busy recruiting candidates and finding premises here in Sweden. Everything is on track even though it is several months later than we had hoped,” said Littorin.

Previously, Boots had aimed to open its first pharmacy in Sweden in the autumn of 2010, but were delays in finding a suitable IT solution, according to Littorin.

The Swedish government opened up the country’s previously state-owned pharmacy sector to competition in November 2009. In connection with the deregulation, the government sold more than half of an estimated 900 state-owned Apoteket pharmacy stores.

As a result, competition has intensified in the industry. In the last year, the number of pharmacies in Sweden has increased by 22 percent, or 200 stores, according to a report from the Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket, KKV) last week.

Separately, department store chain Åhléns recently announced that it is closing five of its six newly opened pharmacies, while the sixth will be taken over by another operator.

Meanwhile, pharmacy chain Medstop CEO Fredrik Söderberg warned of an “overestablishment” of pharmacies that will result in closures in an interview with business newspaper Dagens Industri (DI).

“The risk that we saw in the long run has occurred. There are a lot of places that have opened too many pharmacies. I believe that we will start to see an effect from it this year,” Söderberg told DI.

However, his competitors disagreed. Bodil Eriksson, vice president of Apoteket Hjärtat, which planning to open 100 new pharmacies in the coming years, believes that the market is far from saturated.

For example, Sweden still has relatively few pharmacies per capita compared with other countries, she told the newspaper.

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Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin

Swedish pharmacy chain Apoteket has told The Local it is hoping to offer a range of bandaids suitable for customers with darker skin tones by the end of the year as part of efforts to cut discrimination.

Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin
An Apoteket store in Stockholm. Photo: Roger Vikström/TT
The company, which has 370 stores across Sweden said it had come up with the idea after talking to a number of Swedish anti-racism charities.
“We're looking at whether it's possible to have different coloured plasters but we haven't made a final decision on it yet,” Communications Director Eva Fernvall told The Local on Wednesday.
“It won't happen by next week but we hope to have something in place by the end of the year,” she added.
Apoteket faced criticism earlier this week by a Swedish blogger who runs the website (which translates as 'Everyday Racism').
Paula Dahlberg told public broadcaster Sveriges Radio on Monday that the pharmacy giant was contributing to racism by only offering shades of beige plasters (also called bandaids in some countries) on its shelves.
But Fernvall insisted that the company's decision to trial darker products was made long before the writer made the comments.
“The fact she said that demonstrates that there are heated discussions about immigrants and refugees right now,” she said, adding that the national chemist chain was committed to reducing discrimination.
She admitted that the plaster plan was “unusual” and noted that she had “never heard of anything like this in any other countries”.
Debates around immigration have intensified over the last 12 months in Sweden, which currently takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation.
The nationalist Sweden Democrat party is the third largest in parliament after winning 12.9 percent of the vote in elections in September 2014 and is continuing to gain public support.
Sweden's government has said it is committed to maintaining the nation's reputation for tolerance and offering help to refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East and Africa. But it has welcomed efforts by the European Commission to encourage other European Union member states to take in a greater share of asylum seekers.