Discovering new possibilities for pharmacies with Simon and Mark Walker

Brothers Simon and Mark Walker could have been content running the successful Blackpool pharmacy inherited from their father. Resting on their laurels after growing the business to 5 stores, or founding one of the three largest ‘bricks and mortar’ pharmacies in the UK. Of course, being Alitam members, they aren’t. In fact, they’re venturing into brand new territory, unclaimed by any other pharmacy. In doing so, they’re capitalising on the latest trends and innovations in wellness, and redefining what’s possible for the entire pharmacy sector.

‘We exist to make customers’ lives easier’

With 65 years combined experience as pharmacists, it’s no surprise the brothers’ Blackpool stores are an outstanding feature of their local communities. As Simon explains, “We’re extremely popular because we exist to make customers’ lives easier. We have two full-time delivery drivers, making 200 deliveries a day – that’s ten times the number offered by smaller pharmacies. One of our stores is situated within a healthcare centre where we have a ‘hotline’ to the GPs upstairs. We can resolve issues instantly, make referrals, really look after our customers then and there. That, together with efficiencies such as robot dispensing, means we can offer our customers more attention and a high level of care; these are priceless commodities today.”

The new possible

And then there’s Mark’s consummate skill as a lifestyle and performance coach, which has been a real boost to the business. Says Mark, “I spend time with each staff member, managing their personal development, helping them to overcome challenges, encouraging the birth of new ideas.

It’s no accident we have extremely loyal staff, all pulling behind our vision. One amazing team member just marked her 43rd year with us.”

Mark’s highly individual skills and experiences led to an awareness of a huge gap in the market for pharmacies. “Lifestyle Healthcare, as emerging in pharmacies in the US, is definitely the way forward,” says Mark. “There’s a generalised level – offering DNA testing for health, vitamin level testing, nutritional advice and so on. But I’m also passionate about other natural extensions of our capabilities as pharmacists. For example, treating drug-induced nutrient depletion. As pharmacists we know all about the side effects of certain drugs. For instance, an often-prescribed treatment for ADHD tends to cause side effects such as muscle cramps, due to low levels of magnesium and CoQ10. My vision is to test for this depletion in store, offer customers the highest quality supplements to address the issue, and continue to monitor the situation. This small intervention can make a tremendous difference to the lives of those on long-term medication.”

‘With Alitam we are redefining what it means to be a pharmacist’

“Now we’re part of Alitam, the dream to bring the wellness offering instore is no longer a dream,” smiles Mark. “Cutting-edge tests and services are now at our fingertips. We have this deep and wide pool of member talent and experience to draw on. I’m currently working with Board Directors to get the Nutrient Depletion testing underway, and roll it out across all Alitam-member stores. We’re exploring a unique service, where we offer web-based support for health through specialist GPs, nutritionists and therapists. With initiatives such as this, and many others, we can position Alitam pharmacies at the heart of integrative medicine. This is a huge growth area for the business; a hugely empowering development for customers looking to take control of their health; and, not least, a redefinition of what it means to be a pharmacist.”

Says Alitam Founder, Feisal Nahaboo, “The striking combination of real business brains and visionary ability I see in Simon and Mark are a natural fit for Alitam. The possibilities for pharmacies are endless, and these brothers are turning possibilities into realities, every day. Mark’s vision and passion for individualised medical care, which addresses the root causes of physical and mental illness, will undoubtedly transform his community, and the communities of Alitam members throughout the UK and Ireland. This is what big thinking, allied with financial support, strategic brilliance and expertise can do.”

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