The healthcare company which operates Unichem and Life Pharmacy stores is optimistic new entrant Chemist Warehouse will increase its business.

Australian bulk pharmaceuticals retailer Chemist Warehouse is gearing up to open a second New Zealand store next to Unichem Maxx's concept store in Botany.

READ MORE:Competition in pharmacy sector ramps up

Green Cross Health group general manager Debbie Yardley said the retail giant's planned New Zealand expansion could increase business for Unichem and Life Pharmacy.


"I think it would be naive not to expect business would be affected but ironically in that particular location, it could well have a positive impact by bringing increased foot traffic to the area," Yardley said.

"Its not an unusual strategy to have a cluster of retailers in a similar sector near to each other in that retail park environment, and we're optimistic we have a good offer."

Chemist Warehouse opened its first New Zealand store in St Lukes in November, but remained tight-lipped about its arrival and details. It is again mute on details about its new store opening.

"Chemist Warehouse are very good at creating that perception of low-cost retail in a sector that Unichem and Life Pharmacies are not necessarily known for, or looking to play in," Yardley said.

"That one store in Botany has always been an innovation site for us as it's a Unichem Maxx and in such is a bit of a standalone store offering."

The store, which will eventually be situated directly next door to Chemist Warehouse, was used to test different concepts and bulk sale offers, she said.

"Its [arrival is] something we've anticipated for a long time, it's certainly not like a spaceship has suddenly landed on our front lawn - we've been preparing for a while," she said. "Botany would be an obvious place to open, clearly right next door adds a new dimension, but we're confident our offering is what consumers want and will stand up on its own."

Supermarkets, cosmetic retailers and health stores were also strong competition for its pharmacies, Yardley said.


"Those have a very different style of retail, and bill themselves as a retailer, Green Cross Health sees itself as a primary healthcare provider and there's quite a different strategy at play there."

It's certainly not like a spaceship has suddenly landed on our front lawn - we've been preparing for a while.

Retail consultant Chris Wilkinson said Chemist Warehouse was shaking up the country's pharmacy industry, and already forced pharmacies to diversify their offering.

"Chemist Warehouse is the pharmacy equivalent of what JB HiFi did in the electronics sector. Basic stores, seemingly unstructured retail environments and loud, price-focused marketing," Wilkinson said.

"We're already seeing progressive businesses looking hard at their current model to determine where their future niche lies. That's seen operators look to develop specialities, offer more health, wellness and beauty services or co-locate with medical practices to deliver a more integrated proposition for consumers."

Chemist Warehouse is Australia's sixth largest retailer and has more than 400 stores. Green Cross Health operates 290 Unichem pharmacies and 64 Life Pharmacy stores.