Vijay Patel opened his first pharmacy in 1975 in Essex and later expanded into importing and distributing pharmaceuticals. Waymade Healthcare was established in 1984 and is jointly owned by Vijay and his brother Bhikhu. It holds UK product licences for branded and generic pharmaceuticals and also repackages EU products for the domestic market. Profits have risen by 92% pa, from £1.4m in 1995 to £9.8 in 1998, while turnover has risen by 49% pa to reach £135.6m. The Patels attribute their success to exploiting the window of opportunity that opens up when patents expire on branded products. They acquire UK licensing rights and extract a high profit margin on the products before other competitors enter the market. They have exploited their position as a fleet-footed smaller player to scoop up niche products of little interest to industry giants. Clients include major high-street dispensing chemists and hospitals. Their own successful Sovereign brand is increasingly adding to profits.Even though the brothers were named as the seventh richest Asians in the country in The Sunday Times Rich List 2000, with an estimated fortune of £203m, Vijay says he still likes to work Saturday mornings in the first pharmacy he opened to keep in touch with his customers.
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