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About the author: I am Michael Lord and my wife is Julie, we have two children, Emma in Spain and Angela in London. We live near Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca and have been here 2.5 years. In October 2005 we opened our business, Health and Beauty Abroad which is similar to Superdrug in the UK. www.HealthandBeautyAbroad.com
We bought our first holiday home in Spain 10 years ago and over the years gradually increased our time spent here. My wife & I worked in our own pharmacy business in the NE of England, often putting in 60 hours a week. In 2002, after 11 years of hard work, we decided to sell the business and I began work as a locum pharmacist, working for most of the leading pharmacy chains.
After two years of dreary work, often with hours stuck in traffic, I decided life as a locum was not for me. I had had enough of doling out methadone and other opiate substitutes day after day, why not move to Spain and retire - it seem such a good idea aged 41.
The first 3-4 months were idyllic, relaxing by the pool by day, eating out and socialising by night, what could be better! Then winter set in and the boredom began, it was early December - something had to be done, well part time at least!
Before leaving the UK I had enquired about working professionally in Spain and was told that recognition of my qualifications was automatic here and, as an EU citizen, I had the right to work as a pharmacist in Spain. It was simple then; we could open a 'British' style pharmacy in Spain, brilliant!
Two years later my rights as an EU citizen are yet to be realized, the pharmacy plan 'on ice' - nobody mentioned Spanish red tape or the Spanish pharmacy owners' cartel. It is little wonder that hundreds of Spanish pharmacists are over in the UK working as they have virtually no chance of owning a pharmacy in their own country.
All, however, was not lost. We decided to open a parafarmacia, similar to Superdrug in the UK, stocking all UK products such as toiletries, vitamins, haircare products, baby products, suncare items etc. In fact most things you would expect to find in a UK pharmacy EXCEPT medicines - I am unable to sell even paracetamol legally!! It is slightly galling to see a range of medical products openly for sale in many 'British supermarkets' in our area, all illegally, when I am prevented from selling these items despite the fact I am a pharmacist with a 1st class honours degree and 20 years of experience.
Our store has now been trading for over a year and the business is doing well, we have had hundreds of favourable comments, such as; 'its just like Boots', 'I've never seen this product is Spain before', 'this shop is fantastic, promise me you won't close down', 'I thought I was in Superdrug'.
Some of our best selling lines include; Simple products, Tresemme, Nice n' Easy, Imperial Leather, Radox, Natravits & Seven Seas vitamins, Lynx, Impulse, Piz Buin & Sunglasses. All our products are obtained from our original pharmaceutical wholesalers in the UK and shipped to Spain; the discounts we receive allow us to keep our prices low.
Our eldest daughter has now joined us in Spain and has taken over the day to day running of the business allowing us to semi-retire once more. However we are planning to open more stores in the future and possibly rolling out a nationwide program to allow other entrepreneurs to follow in our foot steps.