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Two strong pillars

Romania was one of the PHOENIX group’s last blank spots in Europe. However, after the successful acquisition of a pharmacy chain and a wholesaler, it can now provide the entire country with comprehensive health services.

Alexandru Matei is looking forward to the upcoming year with confidence. He manages a branch of the nationwide pharmacy chain in Romania called Help Net located in the Bucharest suburb of Corbeanca, which recently became part of the PHOENIX group. „Our products will be available even more quickly under the new umbrella,“ says the 33-year-old. The PHOENIX group will help make this possible with its decades of experience and logistical expertise. Many of Matei’s customers are happy about the wide selection of over-the-counter products. Customers often come without a prescription, looking for skin creams, wash lotions or painkillers. Matei is confident: „I will be able to significantly increase the appeal of my product portfolio by addressing people’s everyday needs.“ Day after day, he observes the way high product availability can benefit people and their health. With this is mind, he is already enjoying his cooperation with the PHOENIX group.

Advice with substance: Employees at Help Net take part in routine training at company academies so they can provide their customers with expert advice.

The pan-European group not only acquired Help Net in 2018 but also the pharmaceutical wholesaler Farmexim. Founded 25 years ago, the PHOENIX group now operates in 27 countries. Romania is one of the last Eastern European markets where the company has gained a foothold. In a country with 20 million inhabitants, sales of health products are increasing. In the first quarter of 2018, 21 per cent more prescription-only items were sold compared with the previous year. Sales of over-the- counter drugs increased by 13 per cent. One-fifth of all the drugs sold are generics.

Thanks to its wide range of products and modern facilities, Help Net pharmacies currently serve 2.7 million customers. But the story doesn’t end there: „We want to continue developing our product range,“ says Marko Grünewald, Head of Corporate Development, Mergers & Acquisitions at the PHOENIX group. Although there are plans to increase the number of pharmacies, new licences are hard to come by. In Romania, there are already 2,500 inhabitants per pharmacy – one-third more than the EU average. Those wanting to expand their network will need to buy existing licences or an entire chain.

On site in Romania

Romania is the twenty-seventh country where the PHOENIX group operates. There are 8,200 pharmacies; 80 per cent of which are in urban areas. One-quarter of all pharmacies belong to a chain. Generic medicines account for a market share of 20 per cent.

A promising market in motion

Acquisitions, however, are not the only way to achieve growth in Romania. The Benefica coop- eration programme, developed by Farmexim, offers independent pharmacies the option to enter into a partnership. Participating pharmacies can benefit from customised services and training opportunities. It is also important to determine customers’ unspoken needs, says Gabriela Boghiu, Quality Manager at Farmexim. „This helps us to continuously improve our service and product range.“

Not only the retail market is in flux in Romania. Wholesalers are also reorganising. They are building modern warehouses and improving their goods management systems. The new Farmexim subsidiary benefits from this by making use of the integrated healthcare provider’s logistical expertise – giving it a competitive edge.

Over the past few years, the PHOENIX group has built up a logistics network in Eastern Europe. This network is underpinned by the hubs in Warsaw, Prague, and Belgrade, where thousands of drugs are stored on behalf of pharmaceutical manu- facturers. Logistics experts then pack these drugs into smaller units and transport them to regional distribution centres.

The ten regional distribution centres operated by Farmexim in Romania have recently been added. These additions are making the PHOENIX group more attractive to pharmaceutical manufacturers as a logistics service provider in the region. This, in turn, translates into faster deliveries – drawing more people into pharmacies like Alexandru Matei’s.

Find out more in our current annual report