We aim to open 15,000 retail pharmacy stores within three years: Sujit Paul

In an exclusive conversation with Sujit Paul, MD, StayHappi sheds light upon the growth strategy of the brand.
We aim to open 15,000 retail pharmacy stores within three years: Sujit Paul

Tell us about the brand StayHappi. How did the brand get started and journey so far?

StayHappi is a self-funded start-up that was incepted in October 2017. It provides High-Quality Medicines at ‘Real and Affordable’ price with their molecule names and not by the brand name. Patients have the power to choose the right medicine and make a smart choice. StayHappi Stores have medicines ranging from Allopathic, Ayurvedic or Herbal & Nutraceuticals, OTC or Consumables and Cosmetics as well as Surgical Items & Medical Devices that comprise of Geriatric Care, Dermatological, CVS & Dyslipidemia, Respiratory, Ophthalmic, Hormones Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT), Antiepileptic, CNS, Urological, Anti-diabetics, Antipyretics, Gynaecology and Sedatives / Hypnotics. Other medication includes Antibiotics, Cough & Cold Preparations, Paediatric medicines, Anti-Hypertensive, Pain Management medication, Pre & Probiotics, Anti-amoebic etc.

Kindly tell us about your current distribution in the online/offline space. Are you also expanding via a franchised model or plan to?

The Company has a central warehouse and a robust supply chain with a distribution network across all states in the country. The aim is to create employment opportunities for thousands of pharmacists, doctors, and business opportunities for entrepreneurs.  The StayHappi team has over 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry from manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, and marketing.

StayHappi plans to scale up and reach every nook and corner in the country, in order to make “Health for all” a reality. Initially, the company is looking to scale up to 15,000 retail pharmacy stores within three years’ time and will launch 1,000 products in a phased manner. Subsequently, the company will increase the product mix that would offer a comprehensive range of products covering all types of therapeutic forms, dosage forms, consumables and healthcare products.

How do you see the organized pharmacy retail market is growing in India. Where do you see this market will stand in next five years?

Currently, India has 4-5 organized retail pharmacies, in a pool of around 18-19 lakh retail pharmacies. When I talk about this huge number of 18-19 lakh retail pharmacies, I am talking about a very small number i.e. only approximately 5000 organized retail pharmacies. Within this number too, there are majorly 3 main players, which contribute to about 65-70% of the total market business. These organized retail pharmacies are also involved in selling branded medicines and medical equipment to the end consumers. However, StayHappi has a different market strategy altogether. We sell medicines by their molecule names and not by their brand names. For us, competition is not too trivial as of now, as we mainly aim to, ultimately deliver the best quality of medication and medical equipment, at an affordable and cost-effective price, to the end consumers i.e. the patients and doctors.

In terms of where I see this brand in the next few years, I just want to add on, that as of now, there are several overseas countries like Japan, USA, UK etc. that are selling medicines by their molecule names and not brand names, and this concept is working well there. The government is providing us with sufficient support and I strongly believe, that in the years to come, India will shift from brand name to molecule name selling of medicines, and hospitals too will resort to this idea.

According to you, what are the major challenges as far as organized pharmacy retailing is concerned?

The real challenge that we faced while paving the way for StayHappi in the market, was mainly the current mindset of the people. They were very convinced to buy only those medicines, which are sold by their brand names because these are prescribed by the doctor. Other challenges seem very simple compared to this, because we had to not just change the prescriptions given by doctors, but the attitude of a million people, that they don’t necessarily have to buy medicines by their brand names, and can easily switch to molecule named medicines, as the quality of the medicines remain unchanged. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of the medicines will help them save a lot of money.

Apollo pharmacy is the niche name in this segment. Do you see them as your competition?

 StayHappi Pharmacy would be insulated from any competitors as the whole concept rotates around selling Best Quality Generic medicine at Fair Price, with MRP’s as low as 90% in some cases from branded drugs, which would enable the common man to get medicines at a way lower cost. Our concept is all about selling medicines by their molecule names.

Tell us more about StayHappi stores in terms of size and location? Have you also tied up with leading hospital chains?

Our idea is to sell medicines by their molecule name all across the country, and this is exactly what we plan to do. StayHappi stores will be present all across the country, including backward and SC-ST locations.  As per the size of the stores is concerned, the average size would be about 550-600 sq. ft.

We have a proposed plan of launching 3 models of StayHappi stores. The first model would be a usual Pharmacy store selling Generic medicine, the 2nd model would be larger than the first and would have a range of OTC/ FMCG/ Ayurveda along with Genric medicines as well. The 3rd model, which is our largest model, would have a Doctor in the store, enabling a holistic approach to Patients. Speaking of tie-ups with hospital chains, we are independent of any ties as of now.

How do you see the potential of organized pharmacy chains in tier 2 cities?

We, as a team, believe that the entire idea of StayHappi has high potential because we sell medicines at affordable and cost-effective prices. In tier II cities, where families are not very equipped monetarily and cannot afford very high priced medicines, we provide them with the best quality of medicines at prices that they can afford. We also believe that even in tier I cities, we would be able to grow and sustain well. Our country is the Diabetic capital. A large number of people suffer from diabetes, and considering the amount of medication required for this health issue, families would definitely switch to more cost-effective medicines.

At last, kindly highlight your growth plans? 

As mentioned earlier, we want to spread all across the country. As we launch StayHappi, we have 11 cities planned, namely: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhopal, Patna and Bhubaneswar within 3-4 years, we aim at launching approximately 15000 stores all across India.


Sujit Paul