Blooms counters ex-employee claims about "hostile" and "stressful" work environment

CUT: Ex-staff say Blooms management did not take care of Goulburn employees.

CUT: Ex-staff say Blooms management did not take care of Goulburn employees.

FORMER Blooms the Chemist employees are claiming the franchise in Goulburn has a “hostile” and “stressful” work environment.

Across the Marketplace, Parkside and Northside stores, the Blooms franchise has parted with 10 employees since the start of 2016.

But Blooms' Parkside retail manager Megan Vitnell says the company has an “open door policy for staff” with concerns and feedback.

“With new management coming on board, it may have been that some staff found it hard to adjust to some changes and procedures put in place,” she said.

One former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said “bullying and verbal mistreatment” had been “physically and mentally debilitating”.

The Post was shown these claims in an email addressed to Blooms' general manager of operations, Jason Blanchard.

Other ex-employees told the Post that Blooms' management was aware of, but did not adequately respond to, employees’ written and verbal complaints.

Ms Vitnell said she had not received any letters from employees, past or present. "I remain on good terms with all ex-employees,” she said.

In her experience as a manager for more than eight years, Blooms had a “fun-loving family vibe” and an “inclusive team”. 

“We make a big contribution to our local community and really appreciate the loyalty of our local community," Ms Vitnell said.

The Post also received a press release from Blooms' head office in response to questions regarding former employees' claims about ignored complaints.

“The subsequent change of ownership ushered in new management, administration, performance criteria and culture,” the statement read. 

“Owners have an external HR specialist to work in-store with all team members in Goulburn on an ongoing basis.

“[We] remain committed to acknowledging, addressing and actioning all staff concerns in a fair, equitable and timely manner and continuing to foster a positive culture and working environment in all stores."

The 10 staff who left this year, some with senior or dispensary roles, were Goulburn residents with more than 100 years of combined experience. 

Customer Marianne Ronayne, who said she had shopped at Blooms in Goulburn for 17 years, wrote to Mr Blanchard in September.

Ms Ronayne's letter called for “an investigation into the departure of so many valuable staff members”.

She believed, as a 13-year pharmacy manager and representative herself, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace such staff.

The local Blooms outlets collectively employ 115 people throughout their three stores and care for 1200 patients plus walk-in customers.

However, in a June letter to Marketplace employees, managers notified staff of a “downturn in revenue”. The downturn came one month after Goulburn aged care provider Gill Waminda announced a change in preferred pharmaceutical suppliers from Blooms to the Kaleen Day and Night Pharmacy in Canberra.

Waminda wrote to residents and their families in April acknowledging “the importance of local community”, but that it would always seek to improve “quality, accuracy and customer service”.

A second Goulburn aged care provider, Warrigal, also terminated Blooms' contract as preferred pharmaceutical supplier in early September, electing for provisions from a Mittagong-based pharmacy.

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