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Company focus


Sainsbury’s is one of the top five supermarkets in the UK — in fact on March 2009 figures it is the third largest — and has a buoyant pharmacy sector. There are 509 major stores and 276 convenience stores distributed right across the UK with 230 pharmacies in the 509 main stores.

Sainsbury’s is one of the leading supermarkets in promoting the opening of GP surgeries (currently two in Manchester) and even dentists at in-store locations and so it has an interest in the health sector beyond pharmacy.


Staffing levels across the pharmacies include 300 pharmacists and 500 dispensing technicians. The company always has vacancies for pharmacy managers, pharmacists, pharmacy assistants and dispensing technicians and, on average, advertises for around 100 pharmacists annually.


The Sainsbury’s preregistration pharmacy programme was relaunched in 2009 and aims to provide a more 21st century approach. The 12-month course begins in July and is designed to attract commercially savvy graduates who want to develop their skills to allow them to make an impact on their community and place of work.

On-the-job training is supplemented through training days and there are three CPD workshop days organised per year (two of these are for pharmacists and pharmacy managers). CPD is also supported outside the company.


Graduates who embark on the preregistration pharmacy programme receive a starting salary of £21,500 and get 22 days holiday. After the first six months they receive a Sainsbury’s colleague discount card which entitles them to 10 per cent off their purchases in-store.

Other staff benefits include the Sainsbury’s Staff Association, which organises events and receives discounted tickets for theme parks and theatres, a generous pension scheme after the qualifying period and a bonus scheme for all staff.

Pharmacy managers can expect additional benefits such as a low rate car loan and additional bonuses for personal and corporate contribution.


Currently, in-store pharmacies do not offer free health checks for customers but there are plans to launch free cholesterol testing in over three-quarters of its pharmacies in the near future. The pharmacy business is based on prescription drug sales and over the counter drug sales, as health and beauty products sales are part of the main supermarket’s business.

Gary Eardley, Sainsbury’s head of pharmacy is a big supporter of the GP surgery idea; he also believes that Sainsbury’s pharmacies are at the centre of the community and that supermarket pharmacy is the way of the future: “I think supermarket pharmacy is the new face of profession and is the fastest growing area of the pharmacy market in the UK… . In real terms, newly qualified pharmacists are more receptive about coming to work at supermarket pharmacies.”

The Sainsbury’s corporate brand asks the customer to “Try something new today” and as a company it claims five principles as the core of the business: these are being the best for food and health, sourcing with integrity, respect for the environment, making a positive difference to the community, and being a great place to work. The 28 per cent surge in Sainsbury’s profits in May 2009 to £543m produced a bonus of £60m to be shared out between all of the members of staff, giving them around £500 each.

Good causes

Sainsbury’s is active in charity work and is one of the largest corporate contributors to Comic Relief, with events at local and national level as well as selling the merchandise. Stores also support local projects and charities and are encouraged to be involved at the community level. Recently (May 2009), as part of the supermarket’s 140th anniversary, a campaign asked customers and colleagues to nominate or vote for a local charity to be official charity partner for each store for the year. Each charity chosen will work with Sainsbury’s to organise events for fundraising and also charity collections with staff volunteering some of their spare time.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20067738

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