Brothers Peter and Ronald Goldstein founded Superdrug in 1964. Here, Peter speaks about how the business has fared over the years.
Superdrug is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, how does it feel?
To see everyone celebrating is very special to me. Retailing has changed over the past 50 years especially the last 10. I still love going into new stores any time I see one.
How did you start Superdrug?
Our father was in the grocery business and to cut a long story short I became a junior buyer for toiletries at Tesco. Really, supermarkets weren’t ready for toiletries back then - they didn’t know or appreciate the potential, but of course their size was that of today’s convenience store. That’s where the trading name comes from. We called it Superdrug so there was a connection to supermarkets.
Did you ever think Superdrug would grow to a 600-store chain?
We hoped Superdrug would work. It wasn’t a mega company when we first started it was just one shop. Because I had been a supermarket buyer the toiletry companies were very supportive which helped our initial expansion. I just saw it as a good way to make a living.
Are you pleased with how Superdrug has fared under Hutchison Whampoa’s ownership?
Hutchison Wampoa has done a much better job of it than Woolworths did [when it owned Superdrug].
What was the issue with Woolworths handling of Superdrug?
Well, what happened to Woolworths in the end? Don’t forget there were 850 Woolworths stores when we joined it and a dynamic Superdrug. My brothers and I wanted nothing more than an opportunity to get stuck in. The potential was fantastic [but it ended up being an] opportunity lost for one and all. We are delighted to see it under the professional management of Hutchison Whampoa.
What do you think of the retail environment today?
The fact is the high street has changed and the internet has made retail more challenging. Retailers have got to be part of the new developments [to survive].