The week of a Dutch drugstore-chain owner ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Last weekend, the Dutch financial Times,, had an interesting part-article / part-diary of Henk van der Doelen, owner of a chain of ca. 30 drugstores in the Netherlands. Originally part of a franchise called DA (2nd largest in the Netherlands, afaik), he and several people decided to split because of restrictive conditions. I've followed this story for a while because I'm interested in franchising, and because drugstores are big business in the Netherlands (market-size: ca. €3,5 billion), probably due to its trading history in spices and herbs.

His company, Drogisterij-parfumerie, was founded in 1970, has 270 employees, 29 branches, and an annual revenue of €23 million.

The business also employes a franchise-formula, called 'Pour Vous' (Dutch link), which has existed since 1975 as a soft franchise. It asks a monthly marketing-fee of €250 and / or (this part is unclear) €7000 per year for commercial and marketing-related activities. Total innital investment to join the formula is estimated at €300.000.

I created the colour-coded picture below out of curiosity. How exactly does a retail-chain owner divide his time? Naturally, one week's activity should not be generalised across greater periods or different businesses, and I probably mislabelled some activities. But you can let me know that in the comments. ;-)

week of a retail franchise owner.jpg

What is interesting is that there is a fairly even division of activities, apart from maybe marketing. From the article, I did get the sense that he was more focussed on warehouse-actitivities, also living close to the central warehouse, but he pretty much kept his finger in all the relevant pies for running a business of this sort.

What is also interesting is that he essentially plucked out a number of franchisee-branches out of DA's franchise-network and created his own. In the sense of whether franchising is entrepreneurship or not, I do think that this again confirms that the options remain wide open. This story also sheds a light on what can happen if a franchiser's policies are too restrictive for franchisees.

From my understanding, DA has been making moves towards a more integrated strategy, which did not sit well with many franchisees. Apart from the ca. 30 branches that Drogisterij-parfumerie took with it, another 40 left to join D.I.O. (4% market-share). This still leaves DA fairly strong, with 452 branches and 15% market-share, behind the number 1 in the Dutch market: A.S. Watson (Kruidvat, Trekpleister, and ICI Paris XL) with 877 branches and 40% market-share.


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