See if you can work out this riddle? You submit a development application requesting consent to operate a neighbourhood store. Once the DA is approved you open a discount chemist. The riddle is: why not apply for consent to operate a discount chemist in the first place?
The Development Application
A Development application was lodged with the Lane Cove Council or 5 October 2016 to use Shop 2/72 Helen Street as a neighbourhood shop for the sale of general merchandise. The list of items to be sold included coffee, tea, milk, cold drinks, bread and newspapers, personal care items, baby care items, household cleaning items and a dispensary for prescription medicines.
The supporting documentation submitted with the DA stated “some items like milk, bread and newspapers would be brought to the premises by the proprietor on a daily basis.”
The Lane Cove Council was clearly under the impression that the shop was a general merchandise store and prepared a seven-page report on the DA. Both the Council’s Building Surveyor and the Council’s Manager Environmental Health were involved in reviewing the DA. One of the Council’s concerns was that the premises should not be used for foodstuff preparation.
The plans submitted by the applicant were prepared by AM Solutions. AM Solutions operates from the My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse Head Office. The plans did not show any fridges or cold areas zones. If a shop is selling milk and cold drinks, the plans would usually show where they are to be located.
What does the shop sell?
All items you would find in any Lane Cove Chemist. They are not selling bread, milk, cold drinks or newspapers.
What name does the Chemist Trade Under?
The store is not branded as a Chemist Warehouse. However when you go inside it is obvious that the shop is owned by Chemist Warehouse. Their receipts are issue in the name of Chemist Warehouse and you are given Chemist Warehouse bags.
Chemist Location Rules
Chemists are very heavily regulated and there is a restriction on the number of chemists one entity can own in a particular area.
Last year, in the Australian Financial Review Tony Boyd wrote:
“If there ever is a prize for exploiting loopholes in restrictive government regulations then the family owned chemist warehouse would easily the make the shortlist and probably win first prize.
The AFR in another article quotes an IBS World report that states:
Chemist Warehouse “controls” more than 300 pharmacies and is composed of 100 partners and 9,500 employees, IBIS World says.
Due to complex regulations Chemist Warehouse enters into arrangements with local pharmacists. The Pharmacy Council of NSW Register of Pharmacists lists the owners as John Megally and Sunil Narula. John Megally is also the owner of the Chemist Warehouse on Burns Bay Road. The address for service of documents, listed on the ASIC records, is the My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse head office.
Did they need to adopt this approach?
It is possible that if the DA was only lodged for a chemist this may have led to the Lane Cove Council investigating further whether a chemist is, in fact, a neighbourhood shop. There is no doubt that if they did sell bread, milk etc it would be a neighbourhood shop.
The shop is open Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm. The feedback ITC has received is that these hours are not convenient for an area where there are many people in full-time employment.
ITC contacted Chemist Warehouse for a comment, they did not reply to our Emails.
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