Hyderabad: Optival Health Solutions, a pharmacy retail chain from Hyderabad that operates its stores under the ‘MedPlus’ brand, plans to expand nationally by quadrupling the number of its stores to 400 by June, taking on bigger rivals Apollo Pharmacies as well as emerging retailers such as Fortis HealthWorld and Medicine Shoppe.
Optival then plans to double again in six months with 800 stores by early 2008,said its chief executive Madhukar Gangadi. He declined to provide details on how Optival will finance such expansion but MedPlus Health services, a pharmaceutical product distribution affiliate of Optival, has received institutional funding from Hyderabad venture capital firm iLabs of Rs23 crore, this will be utilized to meet the expansion needs. Optival was started 13 months ago.
Optival operates 70 stores in Hyderabad and 30 in Bangalore. By June 2007, the company plans to strengthen its presence in Hyderabad and Bangalore and move into Chennai as well as 20 major cities in North India. Optival plans to have 6,000 employees by the end of 2008 from about 900.
Pharmacy retailing in India, growing at 8-10% annually, generates revenues of about Rs30,000 crore, most of it coming from small pharmacy stores, which number about eight lakh. The organized pharmacy sector, like the one Optival wants to expand, accounts for less than 1% of the total industry in terms of the number of stores. “Pharmacy chains in India are the next big opportunity,” said Shivani Shukla Raval, programme manager of health care for South Asia and Middle East at consultant Frost & Sullivan.