Georgia’s leading pharmaceutical company PSP is planning to expand its presence by opening 30 new branches in large villages of the country, while updating the space at its larger stores to offer a more comfortable and pleasant shopping experience to its customers.
Vazha Okriashvili, Director of PSP Pharma, told Golden Brand that “small changes” will be made to the health, beauty and family care areas of stores.
Q. Please tell us how you are going to change your storefront to appeal to customers.
A. Customers always want new things. After a certain period of time, you should engage your customer with even a small change, you should surprise and fascinate them with a new offer, which will make communication with customers even more comfortable and pleasant.
Customers ask us to evolve our brand. In the near future we plan to update our larger stores, where we will allow customers to spend more time and introduce more entertaining elements to the beauty section. We want to make the buying process more pleasant for the customer. The customer will have the opportunity to test how this or that product will fit, even to try different makeup products on.
As for childcare products, based on our experience we have come to the conclusion that baby strollers, playpens and similar products will be moved to e-commerce for purchase on the PSP app. There has been more interest from customers in the direction of gift sets, children’s accessories, and we are planning to expand the assortment in this direction from the end of the year.
Regarding the pharmaceutical section, we always want the communication between the customer and the pharmacist to be confidential. With a small minimum barrier, we will allocate a zone to create intimacy and avoid other people’s observance in the communication between the pharmacist and the customer.
We will introduce this concept to our pharmacies this fall and expect to completely update the interior space in our larger pharmacies by 2024.
Q. This year PSP won its eighteenth Golden Brand at the Golden Brand awards ceremony, meaning that PSP has never lost to any other company operating in the same field. What are the main factors that determine the unchanged position of PSP as Georgian customers’ favorite pharmacy chain?
A. PSP has set a goal to be the best in the field, which means following proper, correct processes, and being honest with the people, God and the state. A very good team has been formed, which is able to keep up with global innovations and bring the pharmaceutical market of Georgia closer to international good medical practices.
Q. Speaking of that, which practices and standards have been introduced by PSP to the Georgian pharmaceutical market?
A. For example, the process of getting closer to the GDP standard, a code of standards ensuring that the quality of a medicine is maintained throughout the distribution network, so that authorized medicines are distributed to retail pharmacists and others selling medicines to the general public without any alteration of their properties. This is a continuous process, a way of life for our company.
PSP has always managed to work according to the GDP standard, and when it became mandatory for the market two years ago, our company was partially prepared to meet this. Both the state regulatory body and the German organization have given us recognition that we are indeed working according to the good distribution practices (GDP) standard.
Q. Now let’s continue talking about the key factors that have led PSP to success…
A. One of the key factor that determines PSP’s success is that we are a customer-centric pharmaceutical company. We ensure the supply of quality products to the customer throughout the entire production chain. Two million people visit our pharmacy chains every month and we are responsible for meeting their expectations and offering only the best. We listen carefully to our customers and build strategies on their wishes.
Q. What was the primary goal of PSP and have you achieved it during the 29 years of existence?
A. Physical availability, geographical availability and price availability – these were our primary goals. In my opinion, we have satisfied all three goals.
Since the establishment of the company, work has been going on to ensure physical availability of medicines in Georgia. Our goal was that all the medicines registered in the European Union, and those which our population has been accustomed to since the Soviet Union, should be available to us. We were able to do this around 2002.
I can say that we have achieved geographical availability in the market. With 306 pharmacies, we are able to bring our products to consumers as close to their homes as possible. Most importantly, the costs of transportation do not affect the costs of the products, and medicines cost the same in the country as the region.
As for prices, you know that the reference price system went into effect in 2022 in Georgia, meaning that pharmaceutical companies, importers, distributors and retailers of medical drugs are prohibited from selling medicines at prices exceeding the reference set by authorities. We welcome this initiative, but would question the methodology according to which the reference prices are calculated. In the end, this system is acceptable to us.
Q. How do you view these regulations for the market and for your company?
A. We see every regulation as an opportunity. For example, in 2009, when the concept of parallel import was introduced, it was an opportunity for us to import medicine from European countries in a parallel import system and make medicines cheaper for the population.
You are familiar with another initiative by the government, to import cheaper Turkish medicine. This initiative was also launched last year. This also gave us the opportunity to purchase medicines at the price that is set on the Turkish market, so the prices of many medicines have decreased. But the suppliers also lowered the prices, so getting medicines from Turkey is no longer necessary, and in this case it is more important for us to deal directly with the suppliers, because this way cooperation is more stable. Also, the quality control mechanism works better than under parallel import.
For customers, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday we offer discounts on all medicines. During this period, more vulnerable groups visit our pharmacies. In addition, all 60+ people have discounts on a full range of medicines with us every day.
Q. What are some new global trends in the pharmaceutical market and how does Georgia follow them?
A. Now there is a new trend in the direction of medicines – combined products are more in demand than mono products. While earlier there was only enalapril as an antihypertensive only, now there is enalapril with chlorothiazide. Of course, these innovations are also available in PSP.
Trends are changing in the world and people will slowly move toward prevention to avoid illness. All over the world manufacturers are switching to biologically active supplements because if you maintain the chemical balance in the body, you can better avoid disease.
Q. Now tell us about future goals of the company.
A. PSP is a fully Georgian company. We do Georgian work and serve the Georgian people. This empowers us to be a leader in the pharmaceutical market. We want to be an example to others, how you can start with one pharmacy and become a company that is included in the top 10 largest companies in Georgia and has 35% of the market in its field of operation.
We would like to export medicines manufactured at our factory GM Pharma, which is the only one in the Caucasus recognized by the most famous and influential European experts. Today we export medicines to about ten countries, but we want to achieve more, and if wine is the most famous export product of the country today, why can’t it be medicine? In the end, it is very important for the economy of Georgia and its development that more companies export, and I wish each company to fulfill their dreams, and strengthen their country by exporting and bringing more income to our country.
PSP started its activities in 1994 and its first activity in Georgia
was in distribution. Initially, the distribution company PSP Center of Introduction was created,
which became the first official distributor of European medicines in Georgia.
Step by step the company expanded its product offerings into medical cosmetics, hygiene care,
children’s nutrition and skincare products.
The name of the company – PSP – is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase, “Paulatim
Summa Petuntur”, which in English would mean ‘Step-by-step to the Peack’. And the company strives for just that.