SAFCO unveils wholesale pharma outlet in Ajah
– PSN, NAIP, ACPN laud initiative
SAFCO Mega Solutions, a pharmaceutical and health care wholesale distribution pharmacy, has commissioned a new outlet in Ajah, Eti-Osa Area of Lagos.
The colourful ceremony which took place on 12 April, 2016, witnessed a large turnout of pharmacists, mostly from the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Eti-Osa Branch, as well as well-wishers and residents of the area.
In his welcome address, Pharm. Adebayo Afon, managing director of the company, remarked that the commissioning of the mega outlet, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the passing of the founder of the pharmacy, Pharm. Solomon Adegboyega Afon, is a new page in the pharma industry.
“It will please you to know that what is happening here today did not just occur as an accident; it was deliberately master-minded by my late father. We are reigniting the legacy he began in 1976,” he said.
Reminiscing on how he suddenly became saddled with the responsibility of keeping the company going, Afon said, “I remember vividly how the mantle of SAFCO Chemist Limited leadership was thrust on my shoulder when he passed away 30 years ago. As a pharmacy student at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), I tapped into the vault of knowledge that my father had groomed us with to ensure that his legacy did not die.”
The history of SAFCO Mega Solutions dates back to 1976 when it operated as SAFCO Chemist Limited and managed by the late Solomon Adegboyega Afon in Benin City in Old Bendel State (now Edo State). It was mainly involved in retail, wholesale and distribution of pharmaceuticals in the community it was located. The company continued its operation after the death of the founder in 1986 under the management of his son, Adebayo Afon.
In 2004, SAFCO Chemist Limited was liquidated and Afonchies Pharmaceuticals was formed. The latter started out as a retail pharmacy store in Ajah since then and has now grown to a chain of five retail outlets in Lagos.
Over the decade, Pharm. Afon, who is the current vice chairman of ACPN, Eti-Osa, had been concerned about the challenge of ineffective supply chain system, which he had traced to a monopolistic pricing system, delay in delivery, products hoarding, insufficient products and stiff market conditions imposed on pharmaceutical retailers in Nigeria.
This had prompted the need to expand into a wholesale line of business and, thus, SAFCO Mega Solutions was birthed.
“As a company, we are committed to the profitability and viability of independent pharmacies as well as provide support to maintain their positions in the industry,” Afon said. “Our competitive edge cuts across efficient customers’ inventory and management, telephone-email-walk in and door-to-door order system.”
Speaking further on the new outlet’s mode of service delivery, he said: “Orders made between 8.00am and 4.00pm (Monday to Friday) on the Island will be delivered same day within two hours while delivery of orders to mainland locations will take 24 hours.”
Shortly after a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the late SAFCO Mega Solutions founder, Mr Bayo Fadere, chairman of the occasion, noted that it had been a long, eventful journey for the company.
Noting that it was quite challenging starting a business, especially a pharmaceutical business, in Nigeria, Fadere urged the Afon-led team to stay focused on making a difference.
“Although I am not a pharmacist, I commend what Bayo and his family have done and still doing. However, I want you to always give consideration to your customers. This is because without them, there is no business.
“I know you cannot please everybody, but do your best to always meet their expectations. I pray to God to continue to bless the business,” Fadere said.
In the same vein, Pharm. Kayode Aiyegbajeje, former chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Lagos Branch, remarked that he was much impressed with the huge investment made by SAFCO towards helping pharmacists doing retail business on the Island.
“Looking at their journey so far, I am sure they are going to make a big impact. Bayo (MD) is a jolly good fellow. I have met him a number of times, either at ACPN or Lagos PSN functions. I am really impressed,” he enthused.
Another pharmacist, Tunde Alli, a product manager with Reals Specialties Limited, shared the same optimism, saying, “We hope more of this development can be done. SAFCO Mega Solutions is filling up a vacuum that has been left for long in the hands of non-professionals. Now that the professionals are gradually taking over, I think it is a welcome development. Reals Pharmaceuticals is happy to be associated with SAFCO in this epoch-making event.”
Also speaking, Pharm Olufunmilayo Solanke, managing director of Queen Pharmacy and Stores, Lekki Phase 1, stated that the idea of launching a mega wholesale outlet is good, especially for retailers on the Island.
She however emphasised that the success of such a venture would depend on the prices and quality of services rendered.
“For some time now, we have been having challenges with order. But if we see someone who can come up with something that will make it easier for us to get our orders on time, that would be great,” she remarked.
According to Pharm Rotimi Afon, SAFCO director, who is also the chief executive officer of Freedom Pharmacy, Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, the idea behind the wholesale distribution system was to launch a quality customer-oriented outlet that would be unparallelled in terms of materials, products and services.
“Basically, we are looking at Ajah, Eti-Osa and environs as our catchment area because there are not many wholesale outlets taking care of their need around here. If you look at the manner in which the area is expanding, you will agree with me that indeed it is a potentially huge market for pharma distribution business.
Continuing, he said: “You know it is stressful for people on the mainland to cross over to the Island for purchase. In the same way, it is difficult for people on the Island to go to the mainland for goods just because they are unavailable here. This is why we think the services we render are much needed.”
Another guest who believed SAFCO Mega Solutions had found a safe landing was Dr Lolu Ojo, former chairman of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP). The pharmacist opined that the opening of SAFCO Mega Solutions holds the promise of a brighter future the pharmaceutical profession.
“When we have young pharmacists accomplishing great feats like this, we should encourage them,” he said. “What is key and important is that you have a focus. Just have the belief that this is where I am heading and what I want to become in life.”
“I met this young man when he was a boy, but we lost contact then. It is a good thing that I am meeting him at this level. It is great. We need to congratulate him for his focus and belief which has culminated into what we are witnessing today,” he added