By  on April 25, 2008

For Canadian drugstore chain Pharmasave, "going green" isn't just about introducing a natural set, but changing its retail landscape to be more environmentally friendly.

As a test, Pharmasave, which has more than 400 stores throughout Canada, opened its first eco-store over a month ago. Although the store is still developing its "green" standards, referred to as the "EcoDecor" package, the design already features elements focused on reducing the environmental impact, from the lighting and paint to the weekly brochures, which are printed on recyclable paper. Pharmasave executives could give no details on initial sales.

"All stores installing the EcoDecor package will benefit from the use of zero VOC paints and flooring [as well as] wall and ceiling materials, which also contain significant quantities of postconsumer-based recycled content," said Luba Sasowski, Pharmasave's national cosmetics manager.

"In addition, it will be free from additional solvents or volatile organic compounds, again making these stores environmentally friendly and healthier places to work and shop."

Designed to reduce the store's energy consumption, the lighting used in the cosmetics department is LED based.

The retailer has applied the green concept to the cosmetics department by utilizing more glass and solid surfacing materials and less laminates for store fixtures. The chain has plans to take it a step further by having fixtures fabricated using formaldehyde-free construction panels and nonsolvent-based adhesives, all of which eliminate the off-gassing of known carcinogens from the fixtures, said Sasowski.

While space is limited, Pharmasave is testing out smaller displays and in-and-out testers of a limited number of natural and organic brands, including BeFine, J.R. Watkins and Physicians Formula's organic assortment. "My plans are to develop the organic and natural cosmetic category since this is not a fad for us — this is a lifestyle and what we are about, not just in our pharmacies, but the health and wellness of your skin," said Sasowski.

Pharmasave's skin care assortment is another area where the retailer has experienced double-digit growth over the last year, which the company partly attributes to dermatological skin care brands. Recently, Pharmasave unveiled three skin care concepts — a full-service valley that holds both derm skin care brands as well as the prestige lines; a wall concept that can be merchandised in the pharmacy and the cosmetics department, and a smaller unit that is built right into the pharmacy counter, allowing the pharmacist to recommend skin care. Some top-selling skin care brands include Neostrata, Quantum Hydrox, Roc and La Roche-Posay.Pharmasave also employs 150 cosmeticians. The retailer's beauty business is a major focus for the chain, and makes up 14 percent of the overall store sales, excluding pharmacy sales. Although each store has a different footprint, the sizes range from 500 square feet to 4,000 square feet with beauty making up less than half of the allocated space.

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