A FAMILY-RUN pharmacy in Helsby is fighting for survival against a supermarket giant which is to launch a rival service.

Fearns Pharmacy, on Britannia Road, Helsby are braced for battle after Tesco announced plans to provide their own in-store pharmacy.

Joe Fearns, who runs his business with son Michael, said: “We only found out that Tesco was planning a pharmacy over the past few days, we believed that they were ill-founded rumours.

“We are very shocked and obviously worried.

“When Tesco opened - the bakery went within weeks. For most people it is not an issue of loyalty, it is about convenience, everything goes in the trolley together.”

The small pharmacy, which employs seven staff, many of whom are members of Joe’s family, have paid out thousands of pounds on refurbishing the shop.

Joe says he is hopeful his customers will remain loyal but added: “In the worst case scenario, in a few years time, the business may just not be viable any more with the store around the corner.

“We have every intention of continuing to provide a first class service within the community.

“They may be open longer hours, but we have been part of the community for a long time and we will not be bulldozed by a massive international corporation.”

Helsby parish councillor Frank Thomas, said: “We never wanted a pharmacy within Tesco. The service that Fearns provides is fantastic, I go in and he knows me by name and knows all the medication I am on.

“We cannot let this vital service die.”

A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We are basically responding to customer demand within the store. Our customers have told us that they would like a pharmacy in the store and that the late night opening hours would benefit them.”