Target has opened two pharmacies in the Montreal area under the Metro-owned Brunet banner.
The pharmacies are the first of 18 slated to open in Quebec this year, most of which will be in the Montreal region.
The two locations can be found in Brossard on Montreal’s South Shore and in the Laval neighbourhood of Sainte-Dorothée. Both replace existing Brunet pharmacies nearby and come with built-in clienteles.
Target could not follow the same model for its Montreal-based pharmacies as in the rest of Canada because Quebec’s regulatory framework requires all pharmacies belong to a pharmacist-owner, says Sébastien Bouchard, communication spokesperson for Target.
In addition, “Target faced the problem of recruiting pharmacists to a banner that has a lower awareness level in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada,” he says.
“It’s really easier for Target to associate with a banner that is already known than to create the Target Pharmacy banner.” Bouchard notes Brunet is the oldest pharmacy in Quebec and has solid consumer confidence.
Under the agreement, McMahon Distributeur pharmaceutique, the Metro subsidiary that owns Brunet, is responsible for recruiting owner-pharmacists. The in-store pharmacies will carry Target owned brands such as up & up.
“Target is one of the strongest retail brands in North America and we’re thrilled to be working with them on this unique concept,” said Luc Martinovitch, vice-president and general manager of McMahon Distributeur pharmaceutique, in a statement.
The agreement represents an excellent growth opportunity for Metro, as it will increase the presence of Brunet in the Montreal area and its buying power and sales potential in Quebec, says Geneviève Grégoire, communication advisor at Metro.
Brunet lags behind the major chains Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix (Shoppers Drug Mart) in Montreal, where it also competes against Uniprix, Familiprix and Proxim.
The Target Brunet pharmacies will have blue and white interior branding instead of the usual Target red and white colours.
Bouchard’s seen an increase in foot-traffic in the two Targets with pharmacies.
He added the first Targets to open in March 2013 are doing much better than those that opened months later, he says. “The longer the store is opened, the better the performance.”
U.S. bond-rating firm Moody’s Investor Service said in a report released Monday that Canada remains “a potentially lucrative market for Target over the longer term” despite the fact its weak start.