Vijay Patel might be a multi-millionaire, but he still spends Saturdays working in the first pharmacy he opened in Essex in 1975. He says it keeps him in touch with his customers. Patel founded Waymade Healthcare in 1984, together with his brother, Bhikhu. The brothers soon moved “backwards” along the supply chain and began importing pharmaceuticals. They have since added a high margin line of own-brand drugs and a relatively new pharmaceutical development arm. Eventually, they want to create a fully-fledged pharmaceutical company. The move away from distribution towards the own-brand range has seen profits increase 92% a year, from £1.9m in 1996 to £13.2m in 1999, on sales of £180.2m. Marketing director Brian McEwan says that the recent spate of mergers between multinational drugs companies has also fuelled Waymade’s growth. As the newly-merged companies rationalise their offering, there are rich pickings for agile minnows as the giants sell off smaller products.
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