As Alitam CEO, I’m delighted to reveal that our pioneering 100+ store pharmacy group Alitam has increased turnover by 24%, since being founded in late 2019. All the growth is organic and on a ‘like for like’ basis. It’s proof of the power of my ‘Pharmacy of the Future’ concept, and our revolutionary mandate to deliver a preventative healthcare service which truly meets the health and wellbeing needs of the nation; thus reducing the burden on NHS services such as GPs and hospitals. The first stage of which has been to launch new ‘GP-type’ services in our pharmacy stores.
This early success is the result of a meticulously planned business strategy, covering 7 key areas:
In early 2020, I sat with the main pharmacy equity director of each subsidiary, explaining how they could be more cost-efficient – by addressing matters in their P&L more effectively. This additional profit allowed stores to headhunt highly skilled and qualified personnel to boost the clinical offering instore – meaning communities could be more fully served, while sales increased. Now you can walk into an Alitam pharmacy and receive expert medical help on an extensive offering from sore throats, ankle sprains and minor wounds, to travel vaccinations, seasonal vaccinations and diabetes checks.
Alitam pharmacies could also widen their remit by harnessing the experience and wisdom of their Alitam peers who already featured certain services in store – such as stop smoking clinics, men’s and women’s health checks, weight loss, travel clinics, hair loss and many more.
Meanwhile, pharmacies began to endorse and recommend fellow Alitam pharmacies to patients, so we could capitalise on the specialisms offered within the group. To patients, of course, this meant they had a source of help, no matter what.
Key to all of this is patient education; making local customers aware of the scale of clinical help a pharmacist can provide. This was achieved through digital marketing, in store marketing as well as local PR activity.
The inception of Alitam coincided with the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and footfall naturally increased, as other high street businesses were forced to close. But Alitam pharmacies ran training programmes with their staff, to ensure their teams built strong r elationships with customers – making them aware of the extent of clinical services available such as weight management, blood pressure checks, ear irrigation, minor ailments clinics and more whilst hospitals and GPs were closed managing their pandemic crisis. Staff were also trained to empower patients to proactively look after their health and, hopefully, avoid burgeoning issues. We installed digital screens instore, and in shopfront windows, to display details of current, and brand new, health services available. We also built robust patient databases, which meant we could effectively target patients with a tailored healthcare offering.
Alitam pharmacy equity directors focused on optimising customer flow through the store, and ensured their team of pharmacists were utilised most effectively.
Sales also increased due to optimal use of consultation rooms, wherein clinical services supporting cold and flu or sports injury clinics could run at capacity each day. Having become accustomed to this new modus operandi, many Alitam pharmacies are very keen to expand their offering even further. Last week I announced our strategic partnership with Pharmadoctor, which will enable a mass roll-out of the aforementioned GP-style services across Alitam stores, and lift a huge burden from primary care services. We have another 3 partners to name shortly – all supplying Alitam pharmacies with digital tools, resources, knowledge and training to deliver additional medical services.
With a number of Alitam pharmacies rolling out new medical services it’s highly likely my forecast of 10% ‘like for like’ growth will be achieved in the near future. But I’m confident that we will grow even more than that, considering my five year pharmacy acquisition programme for Alitam. This includes acquiring 50+ pharmacy stores a year for the next 5 years. I predict that 50% of all my acquisition targets will be offering an extensive medical service programme in their stores, which will increase organic growth further.
By leveraging the skills, and infrastructure, of community pharmacies, we can radically reshape the healthcare landscape. We’ve seen through the popularity of our vaccination clinics, and medical and wellbeing clinics, just how badly these are needed. And Alitam is set to go much further. I recently announced a multi-billion-pound plan to launch a chain of ‘Super Pharmacies’ across the UK and Ireland within the next ten years. These Super Pharmacies will offer everything from highly regulated ophthalmic and audiology services to physiotherapy and even midwife-led care. It’s about giving the people of our nation the healthcare, and quality of life, they deserve. We’ve been planning our strategy and implementation programme for 2 years and now I have the Alitam infrastructure to increase the roll out programme.
Far too many pharmacies are not being brave enough to extend beyond traditional pharmacy services – so part of our remit is to help them in this regard; offering the hand of guidance and mentorship to pharmacies everywhere, and improving the health of our communities overall.