For the past 50 years, the Piggott name has been synonymous with family-owned pharmacies in Newcastle and the Hunter.
The connection began in 1968 when Christopher and Shirley Piggott, who met while studying Pharmacy at Sydney University, moved to Newcastle to take over Borthwick’s Pharmacy on Orchardtown Road at Blackbutt. It was strengthened in 1979 when the couple established a second pharmacy at the newlybuilt Charlestown Square and continued over the years with the purchase of a number of other locations.
But while Christopher Piggott sold off his pharmacies and hung up his white coat almost a decade ago now, the Piggott pharmacy legacy is still being carried on today by the family’s second generation of pharmacists.
It’s not surprising the business has remained within the family. Three of the couple’s four children (Maddi, Anthony and Skye) became pharmacists themselves, while the fourth (Andrew) pursued a career in surveying but ended up falling in love and marrying an Austrian woman, who also turned out to be a pharmacist!
However, Anthony said it wasn’t until his father was preparing to sell his original pharmacy at Blackbutt that he actually thought about taking on the business for himself.
“I was working up at Airlie Beach originally, and then in Europe, I worked there for a few years in the UK, at community pharmacies but also worked at Croydon University Hospital in South London, and that was doing first-in-human drug trials. It was good fun; I enjoyed that,” he said.
“My dad really wanted to sell his final pharmacy because he was getting older, not that he feels old, so I thought I better go back because no-one else is putting their hands up in the family for it, so I’d better go back.
“My sister Skye and I took over in March of 2009.
“It was a good opportunity for me to get started and I guess work on something myself, so I thought ok, it’s time for me, rather than just running around the world having fun, it’s time for me to start building on something.”
And build on it he did. Within the first 12 months, Anthony had expanded Piggott’s Pharmacy to include a second business at Hamilton, with further acquisitions extending Piggott’s reach into Hamilton South, Branxton and Lambton.
“Blackbutt was already so good I actually worked in a different pharmacy - I managed Blacksmiths Pharmacy while I owned Blackbutt,” he said.
“There was no point me kicking out the pharmacist (at Blackbutt), she would have known me since I was born and they were already working well so I just would work on the business before and after work and worked somewhere else.
“I thought (Blackbutt) is running so well itself I’d better find a second pharmacy and then I came across Hamilton.
“That opened in November 2009, and I worked there fulltime and still do. When Hamilton South came up, it was a good opportunity to get my brother Andrew and his family to move to Newcastle. His wife Sandra is the pharmacist there.
Above: Piggot's Pharmacy, Beaumont Street. Top: Anthony Piggott.
“That was an established business down in Hassall Street, but two-and-a-half years ago we moved into bigger premises on the corner, which has been going from strength to strength.
“Branxton came after that. I didn’t need any more pharmacies, didn’t need to work anymore but had such a good bunch of people working for me that wanted to get into ownership.
“Lee Grundy was doing such a good job, and so we did that (Branxton) together otherwise there would be no other way for him to be able to get into pharmacy ownership (without leaving Piggott’s).
“Lambton was a similar case with Brett Plumb, we bought it in 2016, and we’ve just had it for one year.”
Anthony now has five pharmacies across the region operating under the name Piggott’s and said his father was proud to see his children playing an important role in the local community.
“He’s very proud, very excited,” Anthony said.
“All of his (pharmacies) were franchises, he did it with good people, good friends, and did that well with them. But… seeing me expand with the family, he’s really proud, very happy we’re doing such a good job.
“He’s still very much involved, not on a day-to-day thing but just as moral support, he takes stock between the shops and comes in and tells people jokes.
“He’s always making sure we keep to a certain standard, making sure pharmacists wear white coats, he really likes that sort of traditional-style. He likes collecting the old medicine bottles, and we’ve got them round all the shops, old pharmacy wares.”
Aside from his father’s support and guidance, Anthony also likes to bounce ideas off his wife Wendy, a successful GP who practices under her maiden name of Dr Wendy Bridges and runs Blackbutt Doctors Surgery.
Family oriented and with a love of community, Anthony is passionate about helping others.
The pharmacies regularly support a wide range of causes and community groups including making significant contributions to not-for-profit organisation Soul Café, while Anthony and his staff go above and beyond to meet the needs of all those who come into the five stores.
"The community, they’re the people who feed me and my family, I’m happy to help back. Basically, anyone who supports us here I’ll support them back, it’s the way it’s always been."
“The main thing is community engagement, we know pretty much most of the people that come in the door by name, we not only know the people but who their family is, their grandparents or their children, and we genuinely care. Because your name is associated with it you want to make sure everyone is happy, so we try and help them as much as possible.
“I like to think it sets a standard of quality and trust.
“You want to go in feeling confident and leave feeling reassured. Just ask, and we’re always here, friendly, open, warm, and you’ll get that in any shop, it doesn’t matter what time you walk in, ask, and we’ll help as much as we can.
“There’s not a day goes past that I don’t look forward to going to work. I never, never begrudge going to work… I just love it.
“That’s the really good thing about pharmacy; it’s a lot more than just putting labels on boxes.”