Business Times: Vincent Tan betting on pharmacy

Tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun plans to launch a new retail concept which could instantly make him the pharmacy industry’s leader.

The move means that Tan is making yet another bet on the healthcare sector. He is already the second largest shareholder of hospital operator TMC Life Sciences Bhd and stem cell firm Stemlife Bhd.

The gaming and property businessman wants to set up a venture called eCosway Pharmacy, which will incorporate pharmacies within Cosway stores, Berjaya Group’s direct-selling business.

According to sources, this 2-in-1 concept is expected to take off by year-end. It is understood that an existing Cosway store can add a pharmacy within its premises or an existing pharmacy may have a Cosway store. Alternatively, a new branch that incorporates both can also be set up.

Malaysia now has over 2,000 retail pharmacies which include Guardian, Vitacare and CARiNG.

Cosway, a direct-selling company, sells its products via its vast nationwide network. Its products range from health and nutrition to skincare and kitchenware .

Cosway (M) Sdn Bhd, when contacted by Business Times to comment and provide details of this new business model, said: “Cosway regrets that we are unable to comment at this point of time”.

However, work on the new venture has started.

There are advertisements placed on job sites including one on the Malaysian Franchise Association which states that eCosway Pharmacy is looking for qualified pharmacists to partner its business owners.

If this works like how a Cosway store functions, it would mean that Cosway will provide rent-free stores, free renovation, free stock-up, free equipment and pay for electricity.

The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) president Datuk Nancy Ho said that it was aware of the business model.

“MPS is conscious about the emergence of this set-up and is finding out more about the scheme to ensure that benchmarking and quality standards of practice are upheld,” Ho said.

For Tan, this is not the first pharmacy venture. In January this year, the tycoon, in his personal capacity, bought a minority stake in home-grown CaRiNG Pharmacy. It was reported that this will enable CARiNG Pharmacy to expand faster. A check on CARiNG’s website shows that it has about 60 local pharmacies.

It will be interesting to note that should the move take off, it would also benefit the group when dispensing separation takes place.

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