ECONOMY

Lavipharm calls on pharmacists to modernize

Lavipharm, the pharmaceutical drug and cosmetics manufacturer and distributor, yesterday urged local pharmacies to modernize and coordinate their operations to better prepare for competition from more aggressive foreign chains in the near future. «The more organized local pharmacies are as a group, the more daunting it will be for foreign players to enter the market,» said Andreas Michalopoulos, managing director of Pharma Plus, a newly set up consultancy services company and a subsidiary of the Lavipharm group. Conspicuous by their absence in the Greek market so far, the major foreign retail chains will eventually make a beeline for Greece, he said. The British health and beauty product chain Boots could also be a player in the domestic market as it is currently training Greek pharmacists abroad, he said. He said competition could also come from supermarkets and online sites, both of which are fast gaining popularity abroad but have yet to make their appearance in Greece. Pharma Plus’s combination of consultancy and technical services is designed to help pharmacies enhance their competitiveness, said Michalopoulos. He said grouping pharmacies together will lead to economies of scale, offsetting narrowing profit margins and the squeeze put on the industry by the government due to ballooning welfare costs. «What can the pharmacist do to counter these two problems? First, he can aim for economies of scale in combination with the use of new technology. Second, he can create a store layout which will attract customers and facilitate modern marketing and merchandising techniques,» Michalopoulos stressed. Equally important, pharmacists need to push beauty and healthcare products, a strong source of revenues to compensate for the low profit margins in pharmaceutical drugs, he said. For a monthly fee ranging from 300 to 1,500 euros, the consultancy’s package of services includes product updates, personnel training, category management, store layout, a business and marketing plan. Three pharmacies which signed up for the total revamp and six for partial makeovers have already reported significant increases in sales due to the changes, said Michalopoulos.