A pilot pharmacy project initiated by retailer Woolworths and Netcare has been concluded. The project saw three retail pharmacy outlets open over the three-year period. Two were situated in Woolworths convenience stores in Kloof Street, Cape Town in 2007 and Athol Square, Johannesburg in 2008. A third pharmacy was opened in a full-line store in Eastgate, Johannesburg in 2009. The project was piloted to gauge the popularity of pharmacies in Woolworths stores. The venture harnessed the expertise of Netcare, which was responsible for the stocking, staffing and management of the dispensaries. Woolworths, on the other hand was tasked with the supply and management of other over the counter health, wellness and beauty products. The pharmacies, which were situated in stores with extended hours, targeted customers who placed a premium on the value of their time. The pilot took off more slowly than anticipated. After careful assessment by both Woolworths and Netcare it was mutually agreed not to pursue the venture further as retail space and qualified pharmacists are at a high premium. The three pharmacies will close at the end of June 2010. Commenting on the decision to discontinue the pilot project Zyda Rylands, Managing Director for Food at Woolworths said: “Pharmacies were an innovative idea at the time but we now have other retail priorities and, unfortunately, pharmacy is not one of them. I would, however, like to thank our loyal customers who supported the pilot and our partners, Netcare for their support over the last three years.” Dr Richard Friedland, Chief Executive Officer of Netcare said that the project was insightful but was not opportune at this time: “A venture of this nature is not core to the business of Netcare although we really valued the experience gained and the opportunity to learn more about the retail business from one of South Africa’s top retailers.” Ends