Juan Carlos Saladriaga, Country Director of Farmatodo Colombia, spoke with El Espectador about the future of the Venezuelan society and its arrival in our country a decade ago. He also noted that they still operate in his home country, the same one in which 1,018 companies are in danger of being closed.
In 1918 Raphael Zowelega, Basque origin, he set up a pharmacy in the city of Barquisimeto, Venezuela. For years then called Farmacia Lara, was united as a successful pharmacy, with some points of sale throughout the country, and in 1988 he took the name of Farmatodo.
Thirty years later, when Venezuela's inflation is the highest in the world, Parametodo continues to operate in the neighboring country and according to its representatives, they do so without any inconvenience, as opposed to multinational companies such as Colgate – PalmoliveKimberly Clark or Kellogg, who had been forced to leave the country in recent years.
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Farmatodo arrived in Colombia in 2008 with its business model based on self service and now has 55 stores in six cities in the country, in addition to an 8% share in the common basket market, according to Nielsen. For a hundred years of this society, Juan Carlos Saladriaga, The village manager of Farmatodo in Colombia, spoke about the challenges the firm has in Venezuela and its plans to unite in the national market.
Is this celebration refreshing?
Not at all Farmatodo celebrates that what is built in Colombia is a very important achievement. We were pioneers in the format (self service) and this is a source of pride. The company is backed by 100 years of experience and its goal is very clear: to better serve the customer. That's what always moved us.
What is the current situation of Farmatodo network in Venezuela?
Farmatodo Venezuela Not close Shops. While it is true that the economy is affected and also consumption, there is a demand for products and we supply this demand, even if it declined. Today, 160 stores continue to operate and more openings are available this year.
Are you creating the same jobs today as you did 20 years ago?
It is a business which has traditionally been successful and continues to succeed. It has more than 2,000 employees and operates continuously in Venezuela market.
How does Venezuela's drug supply crisis affect a chain such as Farmatodo?
Clearly, supply is a challenge today in Venezuela. Farmatodo has overcome the problem through a good relationship with suppliers, they are the ones that have to match the reality of the country. We can not talk about full supplies, but there is a very good level.
Have you had any strategy to get more medication or help solve the crisis?
The main strategy is to maintain the action achieved in a joint effort with suppliers. There is no full supply, that's clear.
How do American sanctions affect Venezuela? Have you had any dispute with foreign suppliers?
No. Farmatodo works with vendors that can operate within the country. The current situation produces less variety, but the vital supply is achieved through these suppliers, who manage to take the products to Venezuela. We do not have any direct imports, we retailer Of local purchases as we are in Colombia.
What products do not exist on a Venezuelan farm?
Well, this list is important in terms of variety. There are brands that are not there, but there will always be a general that replaces it. In addition, there are cases where they arrive and then they run out. It's not so fixed.
What is your pharmacy concept?
We have the format Free status, Which is the small blue house usually on the way home. We are looking for Farmatodo as an oasis for the consumer. And as a company, we focus on innovation as a key element of differentiation.
What are your latest innovations?
We launched the mobile app a year ago, revamped the whole logistics system of home deliveries – what we were able to do in 35 minutes or less – and our virtual channels (application, website and call center) represent 20% of sales.
Why did he gamble on Colombia 10 years ago?
Colombia is a very similar market to Venezuela for cultural and geographic reasons. Venezuela to Colombia has always been a partner to tradition and closeness. It was a logical step to do business so close to the economy. Today we have 55 stores in 6 cities.
In Farmatodo Colombia do you have any policy to rent Venezuela?
No, there is no policy of hiring Venezuelans or Colombians, we hire people for their talent.
What do you think of the funding law to be discussed in Congress?
Our point of view, like that of every employer, is that the measures taken by the government in its financing law stimulate the entire system. We have faith that a good agreement will be achieved in the creation of employment or the establishment of society, without going out against demand.
What do you expect over the next 10 years?
Although we currently have 55 stores, our vision is to reach a number close to 100. We also strengthen our virtual channels and have the best offer for an Omni channel in the categories of drugs, baby care, personal care and beauty. And continue to grow until national coverage is achieved.