Schlecker drugstores set for major facelift

The discount drugstore Schlecker is set for a major facelift over the next two years, with the family that owns the chain planning to invest hundreds of millions of euros in an overhaul.

Schlecker drugstores set for major facelift
Photo: DPA

The chain’s stores will be refurbished and the range of products modernised, Schlecker said in a statement Friday. Prices will be adjusted, as will the company’s entire business model.

The chain is investing €230 million over the next 18 months in what it calls its “Fit for Future” campaign. The aim is to create a new, consistent market image and a better shopping experience.

At the start of this year, founder Anton Schlecker announced plans for a new direction for the company.

“We have only tried out unambitious things. Now we know that we have to revolutionise our entire business model,” he said at the time.

Son Lars Schlecker, who heads the company now with his sister Meike, along with parents Anton and Christa, said in the latest statement: “We want to keep offering our customers in future the intimacy they expect from Schlecker, but with new and attractive stores, themes, offers and prices.”

The company regards itself as being “in the tradition of the neighbourhood store,” he said.

The firm plans to expand from 2012, once the overhaul has been completed.

“This way, we will grow and cut, closing markets where they are making losses and opening new ones where there is potential,” Meike Schlecker said.

The company also wants to become more open and transparent, they said. The younger Schleckers will become responsible for the chain’s communications.

“We have certainly in the past been guarded here, which has meant our reputation suffered,” Meike Schlecker said.

The company came in for heavy criticism when it began closing its traditionally smaller stores and opening fewer, but larger – so-called “XL” – outlets. In the process, workers were initially laid off and then hired again through a closely-connected temp agency. Since June, workers at the XL stores have had a collective bargaining agreement.

DAPD/The Local/dw

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Germany should make cannabis available at pharmacies not ‘coffee shops’, says FDP boss

Germany's possible new government could well relax the country's strict cannabis laws. But FDP leader Christian Lindner says he doesn't want to go down the Netherlands route.

A demonstrator smokes a joint at the pro-cannabis Hanfparade in Berlin in August 2021.
A demonstrator smokes a joint at the pro-cannabis Hanfparade in Berlin in August 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

The Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) are set to engage in coalition talks in a bid to become the next German government.  And the future of cannabis will likely be one of the topics to be thrashed out.

In drug policy, the three parties are not too far apart in their positions. So it’s possible that the drug could be decriminalised.

However, nothing is set in stone and the parties still haven’t come to a common line on the question of where and to what extent cannabis could be accessed. 

The leader of the Liberal FDP, Christian Lindner, has now come out in favour of allowing cannabis products such as hashish to be sold in a controlled manner. 

Consumers should be allowed “to purchase a quantity for their own use, for example, in a pharmacy after health education,” Lindner told a live broadcast on German daily Bild on Sunday.

Lindner said he was sceptical about the sale in “coffee shops” according to the Dutch model. “I am in favour of controlled distribution, and therefore health education must be able to take place,” he said.

READ MORE: Patients in Germany still face hurdles accessing medical marijuana

People in the Netherlands can access cannabis products in coffee shops under the country’s tolerant drugs policy. However coffee shops have to follow certain strict conditions. For instance they are not allowed to sell large quantities to an individual. 

Lindner said his main aims were about “crime and health prevention” and not with “legalising a right to intoxication”.

It’s not clear if Lindner advocates for prescription-only cannabis for medical use, or an over-the-counter model. 

The FDP previously said that they they are in favour of the creation of licensed shops. Their manifesto highlights the health benefits, tax windfalls and reallocation of police resources that legalisation would create.

The Green party also want licensed shops, as well as a whole new approach to drug control starting with the controlled legalisation of marijuana. The Greens state that “strict youth and user protection” would be the centre point of their legislation and hope to “pull the rug from under the black market”.

The SPD also want a reform of Germany’s prohibition stance – but are more cautious than the smaller parties on the legalisation aspect. They would like to initially set up pilot projects. 

READ ALSO: Why Germany could be on the brink of legalising cannabis

Controversial topic

So far, the sale of cannabis is officially banned in Germany. Possession of cannabis is also currently illegal across the entire country. Those caught carrying the substance can face anything from a fine to five years in jail.

However, the justice system generally looks away if you are caught carry small quantities for personal use unless you have a previous conviction.

The definition of personal use differs from state to state, with Berlin having the most liberal rules and Bavaria the tightest.

It is estimated that around four million people regularly use cannabis in Germany.

Representatives of police unions in Germany have warned against legalisation. They argue that cannabis is an often trivialised drug that can lead to considerable health problems and social conflicts, especially among young people.

Oliver Malchow, from the GdP police union, said that “it doesn’t make any sense to legalise another dangerous drug on top of alcohol”.

The current Ministry of Health also continues to oppose the legalisation of cannabis, a spokesperson for Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) made clear. Cannabis is a dangerous substance and therefore legalisation is not advisable, the spokesman said.