HEALTHY ASSESSMENT

Kazakhstan 2016 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ruslan Berdenov, President of Europharma, on emerging opportunities, local pharmaceutical regulation, and international strategies.

Ruslan Berdenov
BIOGRAPHY
Ruslan Berdenov was born in 1985 and is a young businessman and perspective leader of Akniet and Europharma. He graduated from the Kazakh National University, KIMEP, and Moscow International Higher School of Business (MIRBIS). He is fluent in Russian, Kazakh, English, and Turkish, and he has successfully completed numerous business trainings both in Kazakhstan and abroad in countries like Poland, Turkey, Switzerland, and Russia. He previously headed Eastcomtrans, he was a Member of the Board in TLGroup Ltd, and he has worked as a Logistic Processes Coordinator with Procter & Gamble.

How was Europharma's performance last year and what opportunities do you see for the company in the medium term?

We are growing faster than the pharmaceutical market in general. Average growth for us is approximately 45-48% per year. In 2013, we grew by 53% YoY, though this year is a bit problematic and our growth will be around 28-30%. In January 2016, we will implement our new five-year strategy that we created with the Boston Consulting Group. In 2012 we had around 90 pharmacies, and we have since nearly doubled that number to around 160 pharmacies. In the pharmaceutical business there are three directions, namely post sale, retail, and government. We currently focus on one direction, and are developing the retail segment. We are currently the number one retail company in Kazakhstan, and for the next five years we want to expand. Our plans are to open 30-35 pharmacies every year. We want Europharma to be the industry's benchmark. Our benchmark is American pharmacies, like Walgreens or CVS pharmacies, and we have projects with these pharmacies. The system in Kazakhstan is a holdover from the basic Soviet Union-era pharmacies; we are the first company to implement American-style pharmacy markets that are like a supermarket and in addition to pharmaceuticals sell cosmetics, baby care products, home care, and other similar products.

What is your assessment of pharmaceutical legislation in Kazakhstan?

We have conservative legislation in Kazakhstan, but it will be changed to adapt to the new Eurasian Custom Union between Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Russia. There will be many legislative changes that will create problems in the short term, but it will stabilize after one or two years.

What strategies have allowed you to create and maintain your partnerships with international pharmaceutical companies, and what partnerships are you looking for to strengthen the business?

Europharma currently has direct contracts with around 200 foreign manufacturers. We are an emerging market, and in an emerging market we can earn a lot due to the high potential profit margins. We are creating a company that can meet the expectations of our Western partners in America and Europe. Out main goal is to be an Eastern company with Western standards. At Europharma, the top managers have to know English. We also have many employees that speak Turkish, Spanish, and German. My goal is that any of our partners in America or Europe will be able to call our company and be able to communicate in their country's language. Beginning in this year we also launched the new standard for good distribution practices (GPD), and starting from next year we are launching a good pharmaceutical practices (GPP) initiative.