Israel’s biggest pharmacy chain, Super-Pharm, plans to dispense with some 1,300 beauty consultants employed in its various branches, claiming that the new generation of cosmetics customers does not need them, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Monday.
The chain’s deputy CEO, Danny Luzon, told the paper that price pressure is the reason for the planned mass layoff, and that with fewer employees advising and directing customers in the chain’s shops, products could become cheaper.
“The average customer is more knowledgeable than in the past, and therefore does not need as much advice from the assistant,” said Luzon. “Today there are ten beauty consultants working at any time in every major branch, and this will change.”
About 3,000 beauty consultants are employed in Israel, with some 90 percent of them working in Super-Pharm branches, meaning the job cuts will affect almost half of them. They are employed and paid by cosmetics importers and manufacturers, rather than by pharmacy chains. Their employment raises the price paid by the pharmacy chains for the products, and this in turn makes the products more expensive for customers.
Super-Pharm has informed cosmetics products suppliers of the sharp reduction in the number of beauty consultants as preparation for looming competition posed by supermarket chain Shufersal, which recently bought Super-Pharm’s rival pharmacy chain, New-Pharm, Yedioth said. New-Pharm has already reduced the number of beauty assistants in its branches.
There was no immediate response from representatives of the consultants or the unions. Similarly large numbers of layoffs in other sectors have provoked widespread strikes and protests.
The beauty consultants have been criticized by some for using aggressive tactics in order to get customers to buy products. This criticism was highlighted recently by popular Israeli satire television show “Eretz Nehederet,” which aired a sketch showing the assistants aggressively selling women cosmetics products they did not need by insulting their appearance.
In addition to the job cuts, Super-Pharm has announced it will reduce the number of cosmetics brands sold in its shops in order to make room for new, lower-priced products. It is also planning to remodel its branches and build a huge, 1,600-square-meter branch in a new shopping mall at Pi Glilot in central Israel.