Yuliyan Hristov, General Manager MagnaPharm, on how a company can prosper in turbulent times
When you enter a pharmacy – any pharmacy – in Bulgaria, the first thing you will see is the same range of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that treat cold symptoms, pain, probiotics, etc. Most of these products are on the local market thanks to MagnaPharm Bulgaria, a company for registration, market assessment, promotion, marketing and distribution of medical products, medical devices, and food supplements. It is the best partner for international manufacturers who want a strong presence in Bulgaria without opening a designated office. MagnaPharm Bulgaria is a part of MagnaPharm Group, and is also present in Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, and the Czech Republic.
For two years now, MagnaPharm Bulgaria has been managed by Yuliyan Hristov. As a general manager, he had to guide it through arguably the industry's most disruptive event, the Covid-19 pandemic. How did he, his teams and the company dealt with the challenge? Yuliyan Hristov elaborates.
What is the core mission of MagnaPharm in Bulgaria?
Our mission is to be the leading supplier of pharmaceuticals and healthcare services in Central and Eastern Europe and to be preferable partner on the pharmaceutical market. We are offering a unique "one-stop-shop" set of services: marketing, sales, consultancy, and assistance in compliance with local regulations for a solid portfolio of health and care products.
In Bulgaria we are very proud with a portfolio that represents international companies such as Reckitt Benckiser, UPSA, Urgo, Laboratoires Expanscience – partners who have been with us for over 10 years. Exclusively representing all of them we are continuing our growth despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is your most important task as the company's General Manager for Bulgaria?
My main priority is the company's further development and growth. The current situation, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and economic turbulence, is extremely volatile and hard to predict. We, at MagnaPharm Bulgaria, aimed to keep the quality of our service and our teams' motivation and spirit, preserve the company's integrity, and remain a trusted partner to local and international partners. Together with the team we have succeeded even to attract new major partners and join them successfully to our big Magna family.
From financial perspective we are also doing excellent. In the past 2 years MagnaPharm Bulgaria saw its highest efficiency in terms of sales and profitability. This was a great challenge and a great achievement, particularly in such an environment.
Which medicines represented by MagnaPharm should be in our homes this autumn and winter?
I would like to underline that people should pay more attention to prevention of diseases with a healthy lifestyle and regular visits to the doctor. I also do not believe in keeping medicines at home "just in case." In Bulgaria we have a well-developed network of pharmacies and distribution centers. OTC medicines are freely available and affordable. Stashing up medicines is pointless. As they sit in your drawer unused, they will eventually expire, while people in real need might be unable to get them. A reminder: medicines should be taken only after consultation with a doctor and according to treatment instructions.
All products represented by MagnaPharm have proven quality and efficacy, when used in accordance with prescription. Some of them can relieve Covid-19 symptoms, but they should be taken only after a consultation with a doctor as a co-treatment in order to avoid complications.
What does the pharmaceutical market look like in 2021?
The pharmaceutical industry experienced serious turbulence in the past two years. These ranged from overconsumption, provoked by stock up, to underconsumption, provoked by the lockdown, to changed consumption with buying medicines, including antibiotics, without a prescription.
We also saw dramatic changes in customer behavior provoked by "miracle cures" promoted in the media. First everyone was stocking up vitamin C, then vitamin D, zinc, selenium, etc. This volatility caused significant, unpredictable shortages. And in such a situation, no matter how good your company forecasting is, you just cannot predict and prepare for the next craze with enough supply to meet the demand.
Pharmaceutical business is like any other business, it relies on prognoses and surveys to plan for future development. This was how the sector operated before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the last year “threw all these through the window."
This is one of the main challenges for the pharmaceutical sector. The pandemic consequences are far from over. I assume that in 2022, the distributor-pharmacy-customer chain will continue to experience chaotic demand causing shortages and problems in portfolio management.
How does MagnaPharm Bulgaria react to these challenges?
In a moment of crisis, a company tries to preserve itself and be sustainable. To sustain in such a situation, a business should be flexible and adaptive. We, at MagnaPharm Bulgaria, have the great advantage of being both a part of a large holding, and of having a structure that allows us to make fast decisions regarding the local market.
As our industry is undergoing modernization and business optimization, we are also working towards this by implementing new software and an information system and planning to implement more environmental-friendly practices and policies.
I am proud to say that currently MagnaPharm Bulgaria is in a good shape. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic we succeeded to keep our employees and our teams well structured, even to raise their salaries in this period. In the same time in the last two years we managed to attract new talents in the team. This sustainable strategy makes MagnaPharm Bulgaria the preferred partner to international companies and pharmacies all over the country. As a result, we are one of the leaders in OTC medicines in Bulgaria and have good positions on the prescription medicines market.
The times are very challenging, but we, at MagnaPharm Bulgaria, are ready and well prepared to continue our successful story as trustful partner, in building our business, covering the needs of the patients and sustaining our significance in the healthcare environment in Bulgaria.
Sofia, 2 Prof. Alexander Fol St, entrance B, floor 7
phone: 02 810 39 49