And all is well for Philippe Gamel, the 38-year-old local pharmacist. “It’s very nice working here,” he says. His customers trust him, and his pharmacy is usually the next stop after a visit to the doctor. Eight out of ten people come with a prescription.
This Alsatian town of 3,000 inhabitants is a long way from France’s major metropolitan areas. It is surrounded by a few hamlets and a lot of nature. Still, Gundershoffen can boast a shopping centre. The two nearby factories are the biggest employers in the region.
People here are down-to-earth; they treat the pharmacist with respect, addressing him as “doctor.” This is also because he is a key advisor on health matters. Dizziness, skin rash, obesity, palpitations – many make their initial enquiries at the pharmacy before going to see the doctor.
Some complaints can be alleviated with simple remedies. The pharmacy offers a wide range of products – despite its isolated location, it stocks all the common medicines. Twice a day, it receives a delivery from the wholesaler PHOENIX Pharma France. The Gundershoffen pharmacy was one of the first customers in this region. The pharmacy was initially supplied just once a day. Soon, the wholesaler gained other customers in the region, and the frequency of deliveries increased.
Gamel’s first contact with the PHOENIX group was several years ago via pharmacist Jean Haudy, who acts as his business mentor. Gamel worked for Haudy back when he was still studying in Strasbourg. After graduating, Gamel started working as an assistant in one of Haudy’s stores. Haudy supported Gamel when he took over the pharmacy in Gundershoffen. In the PharmaVie network, this is normal. When new pharmacists are getting established, older colleagues support them as shareholders and then gradually sell them back the shares. Since then, Gamel has become the sole owner of the pharmacy. Now he himself owns shares in a business that a younger colleague has recently taken on.
Through Haudy, Gamel learnt of PharmaVie, the PHOENIX group’s cooperation programme with 800 French pharmacies. Haudy represents the interests of pharmacies as the regional president of PharmaVie. As a representative of PharmaVie, he is also a member of the Advisory Board of PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnership. With approximately 13,000 independent pharmacies in the cooperation and partner programmes of the company, the pharmacy network of the PHOENIX group is the biggest of its kind in Europe. The PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnership functions as the Europe-wide umbrella for the twelve pharmacy cooperation programmes in 15 countries.
For Gamel, PharmaVie is a key resource. And not just because he benefits from lower purchase prices. A PharmaVie expert helped him to lay out his pharmacy in a clear way, and he can make use of advertising flyers and posters. “Sharing knowledge with other pharmacists is also really important.” Last year, he travelled to Berlin to attend the first conference of the European PHOENIX network, where over 300 attendees from pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers exchanged experiences. The programme included presentations on health trends, changes in the market and the digitisation of the industry.
Among other things, colleagues there reported that they had a very positive experience with the loyalty cards of PHOENIX pharmacy cooperation programmes. Customers’ purchases are recorded electronically, and a discount is given for specific products based on the number of points they have. Gamel learnt that PharmaVie in France also makes this type of loyalty card and the associated software available to pharmacies. When he returned, he immediately introduced the programme in Gundershoffen – and now has even more loyal customers.