Aug. 26, 2015

Bashir Shakib Al-Jabri

Saudi Arabia

Bashir Shakib Al-Jabri

General Manager, Medical & Pharmaceutical Services (BASHIRCO)

TBY talks to Bashir Shakib Al-Jabri, General Manager of Medical & Pharmaceutical Services (BASHIRCO), on the long-term dynamics of the dental care sector, new opportunities in the Kingdom, and plans to implement new technology and systems.


Bashir Shakib Al-Jabri graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Paul Sabatier University Toulouse, France in 1976 and achieved a Higher Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Sciences and Technology of the Languedoc, France in 1977. He served at Sandoz Pharmaceutical for 12 years, occupying several positions including marketing manager and general manager. He is a member on several boards including Marketing Services Company, Exitcom. He has been the Chairman of the Board at Medical & Pharmaceutical Services Co. (MPS) since 1990, Dental House Est. since 1999, and Ward Al Taif Co. since 2013.

BASHIRCO was founded 35 years ago. What gaps in the local dental industry were you hoping to fill at that time?

At the time of our establishment, the dental supply business was considered a small part of the medical business. This is why all other players in the field were part of diversified conglomerates. We were the first to start a fully dedicated dental business, attending to the needs of dentists and dental technicians in the Kingdom. The other companies were so large that this niche market, for them, was not considered important. This is how we were able to get to where we are 35 years later, with a 27% share of the Saudi dental market. After two years, we started a pharmaceutical company to service OTC needs. We started by dealing with the needs of the pharmacies and, little by little, we understood there was a niche in all that is considered “herbal" or “natural." Therefore, we went into that market. Slowly, we learned this business, and now we are thinking it is time to produce these products here. We merged the two businesses, the dental and the pharmaceutical business, which is why it is called Medical & Pharmaceutical Services.

What are your views on the opportunities for the private healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia?

The customers are becoming more and more demanding. They have more information. They can go anywhere in the world and see what is happening, and so they are putting a lot of pressure on us. They want us to deliver the best products that we can. Those who can do it will have an excellent market, and be able to turn a real profit. This is bringing a lot of goodwill from outside, and many large companies are thinking about entering the local healthcare market. I see a lot of interest in education and health. People have the money, the experience, and the organization, and are looking to find new opportunities. They are starting by buying groups and clinics, and commencing production. All these rules and difficulties we are speaking about will force international companies to produce locally. Some countries have laws demanding that you produce locally. Saudi Arabia doesn't have this stipulation yet.

How have the changes in the Ministry of Health affected Bashirco?

In 2014, we were having difficulties in the private market because the Ministry of Health was in a state of flux. We had five ministers of health in one year. They were implementing new rules and scrapping previous ones. However, they are trying to implement advanced processes. For example, the Ministry of Health is trying to put everything related to health in Saudi Arabia on one IT platform. This is fantastic for everyone; however, it needs a lot of work and support. This represents the ideas and visions for the future.

What are your priorities for the rest of 2015?

This year we have a number of major tasks that are taking up a lot of our time, mainly in logistics. With the growth we have experienced, we cannot meet existing demand with our current capacity. In turn, we are building new warehouses, and implementing software that can help us carry out our business in a more sophisticated way. This will be what helps us cope with the demand of the market. Hopefully, this will be up and running next year. We have an ERP in the company; however, things are changing so fast that now we want to have an ERP that can work with the customer-relationship management, while also being linked with the warehouse. We also have a large training center that can train up to 120 people, be they dentists or pharmacists.