Behind the business: Meet Rosemary Michie of Country Ways & Michies Pharmacies

After I graduated, I worked for Shell in London, but I always knew that the family business or working for myself was my goal. I ran my own business for a few years, organising outdoor adventure and country sports activities and holidays. I think that’s where my passion for the countryside began to merge with work! Even now our weekends revolve around being out with the dogs, horses or doing a little fly-fishing. 

The pharmacies were started by my grandfather, Charles Alexander Michie, in 1921. He had several branches in Aberdeen and was also an optician and photo processor. His sons, Charles and John, took over the business in their twenties and they and their wives Mary and Heather still take an interest in the business. They oversaw the move to our flagship Union Street store which houses a pharmacy, healthcare and beauty department, vaccination clinics, gift shop and a large cafe in the basement. Several of my cousins are involved in the business and we’re now in our fourth generation with younger family members also helping out.

There are seven pharmacies across the North-east, with about 120 staff. We stick to our founding principles of providing the very best healthcare for all our customers. We were the first pharmacy in the UK to offer flu vaccinations and offer ear health and podiatry too. Our pharmacists and healthcare team are hugely helpful and do a remarkable job given the relentless pressures facing the NHS.

Country Ways started off as our pharmacy and farm sales store near the old mart in Kittybrewster, moving from agricultural to equine products and tack and to a larger store on Holburn Street after the mart closed.  The Holburn Street site allowed us to expand into lifestyle and country clothing, footwear, gifts and much more.

Businesses evolve all the time and we’ve opened a second Country Ways store in the former Orvis building in Banchory. We have 3,000 sq. ft. over 2 floors specialising in a wide range of gifts, clothing and footwear. It’s got a different look and more touristy feel than the town store, but each offers our customers a unique shopping experience. We’re bringing in new brands like Holland Cooper, Sea Salt Cornwall and Hunt & Hall later this summer and we’ve upgraded our website to improve the online shopping experience. Our tech/online/social media team is likely to grow in the next year.

My own role is overseeing all aspects of running both Country Ways stores and the online offering. I love the creativity on the buying and marketing side which I also do for Michies. It’s such a great place to work, the team are fantastic and the customers so engaging, so it makes the whole thing a pleasure. 

That’s not to say that running a business, particularly one in the city centre, is not without its challenges! However, we remain positive about the future of the high street and the recent formation of Our Union Street, with Bob Keiller at the helm, is a very welcome addition to the campaign to revive the city centre

Michies Pharmacies and Country Ways have always been a part of my life, having grown up with the business, and that’s now where my time is devoted. But, as a working mum, life is so hectic! Juggling the demands of school, work, the dogs (they go everywhere with me!) and all the rest. My husband is often away with work, so weekends are very precious to us. As you might expect from someone so involved in Country Ways, the countryside is where we love to be most.

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