Nelly Katsou: Innovation - Internationalization - Investments

01 Δεκεμβρίου 2014 | Investing in Greece
Interview with the Vice President of PHARMATHEN




Τhe operating triptych for the Greek pharmaceutical company with the significant presence in the domestic and international market for 45 years now.

Which are the financial data and the overall presence of Pharmathen in Greece? Can you give us some insight on the turnover, the profitability, the units and the company's human resources?
Pharmathen, which this year celebrates 45 years since its birth, has managed through innovative performance in the international arena and especially with the contribution of its people to become a model of entrepreneurship development.
By following faithfully the triptych: Innovation - Extrοversion - Investments, the company in 2013 achieved a total turnover of 178 million Euros and EBITDA of around 42 million.
With an average growth rate of 12% annually in the last 5 years, Pharmathen is included in the 4 fastest growing companies in Greece regardless of sector.
Pharmathen is also in the top five of the Greek pharmaceutical industry. Featuring two standard pharmaceutical units and three modern pharmaceutical laboratories, the company employs over 900 employees.
Its momentum is clearly reflected in the large share that it has obtained in the Greek market during the last 3 years, despite the shrinkage of pharmaceutical expenditure, the significant expansion of its product portfolio and the straingthening of its national network's Presence.



What is your export activity? Are you planning to enhance it?
The exports in 2013 have reached 130 million Euros and make up 75% of the total turnover of the company. At the same time we are proud to represent 1% of Greece's total exports (excluding petroleum products).

Pharmathen through its cooperation with the top 200 pharmaceutical companies in the world has managed consistently to solidify its global validity.
Pharmathen exports Greek medicine with high added value in 85 countries worldwide and in 5 continents. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people worldwide has received one of its formulations.
For us in Pharmathen, extroversion is a strategic choice and a key component of our corporate DNA.
If the crisis has taught us something, it is that the international presence was our passport for sustainable development. For this reason, our goals remain extremely high. We seek further strengthening of our export activity in new markets with new products and new technologies.

What are the investments of Pharmathen in the recent years? What amounts of money have been invested? Will you continue to invest for the needs of the Innovation field?
For Pharmathen, Innovation is a key driver of growth. With three modern Innovation centers and 160 researchers, our company invests steadily 20 million Euros annually for Innovation reasons in recent years.
This makes our company the largest private Innovation institution in the country and, according to the European Scoreboard, the 46th among 4,577 pharmaceutical companies that are operating in Europe. Pharmathen is the only fully integrated pharmaceutical company in Greece and one of the few in the EU in the part of the API (raw materials), due to its R&D activity. Within the crisis, we proceeded in total investments of 60 million Euros, excluding Innovation, which created 400 new jobs.

The company has made significant investments in infrastructure. Can you tell us more about them and what exactly did they include?
The most important investment of recent years is the creation of the productive unit in Sapes, which was completed in 2010 and its value reached 42 million Euros. This is the manufacturing spearhead of our export activities, since the 90% of its production capacity, is intended for export.

Further investments, totaling 60 million Euros, have been made for the infrastructure and modernization of a pre-existing production facility in Pallini, the creation of a distribution center in Pikermi, the new modern warehouses in Aspropyrgos and the new administration offices of the group.

At the same time, apart from the above investment, a new investment of 10 million Euros is implemented at the unit in Sapes during 2014 so that will be created a standard production site of injection technology products.

Are there any new investments scheduled for the near future?
With our eye to the future, we implement our investment plans without any derogation. With scientific activities being in the top of our interest, we invest consistently in Innovation, targeting new technologies that will bring us one step ahead of the global competition.
At the same time, we strengthen the presence of Pharmathen in new foreign markets by expanding our network.
Our strategy at the Greek market is based on two axes, a) the expansion of our product portfolio, with original drugs, cosmetics and parapharmaceuticals and b) the development of the sales network in the pharmacy channel.

What is the strategic goal and vision of Pharmathen? At which height do you place the bar?
Our goal is to become one of the leading Innovation and development companies in the world.
Our vision is to upgrade the quality of people's daily life worldwide by providing innovative and affordable pharmaceutical products.

So the bar gets increasingly high for us on Innovation, which is the means to achieve our goal and see our vision become a reality.
We want to contribute in a catalytic way "in the creation of a world where we want our children to grow".

How has the difficult economic climate that Greece experiences these recent years, affected the drug sector and Pharmathen?
In recent years the drug industry has suffered from the effects of the economic crisis, as it lies at the center of fiscal adjustments, with successive price reductions.

The limitation of the pharmaceutical expenditure from 5.1 billion Euros in 2009 to 2 billion Euros in 2014 has changed the market data and the balances.
In this adverse environment, Pharmathen has a clear strategy and has managed to identify opportunities, make the right choices and managed to double its share in the Greek market and maintain a leadership position today.

Do you think that the recovery of the Greek economy has already begun? What still needs to be done, in your opinion, for the attraction of more investments?
With the exit of Greece in the international markets, I think that we are experiencing the first positive signs of recovery for the Greek economy and the first signs of regaining confidence from our European partners.
A big challenge for the country is to attract new investments, but an even bigger challenge, is to maintain healthy business forces in the country and empower them.

Measures such as the creation of a stable tax system, the elimination of bureaucracy, the development of a better and fairer justice system, certainly will help.
Alongside, we must focus on strengthening sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry, which at times have emerged as drivers of exit from the crisis, according to the IOVE Innovation, given their crucial contribution to the GDP.