Everstone Capital-backed pharmaceutical distribution firm Ascent Health and Wellness is looking at investing around Rs 500 crore in the next three to four years.
The plan is to acquire distributors and small pharmacy retail chains, among others. The firm supplies to around 20,000 retail outlets at present. It is looking at raising around Rs 300 crore of funds next year. Ascent Health raised around Rs 400 crore in 2016 from Everstone, Nimesh Kampani of JM Financials and US-based hedge fund Think Capital.
The plan now is to develop a model where it could offer ‘smart pharmacy’ capability to traditional stores in the segment. Investment would be into technology and setting up of warehouses through the country, said Siddharth Shah, founder and chief executive. At present, India is a branded generics market; there are an estimated 200,000 medicines. However, a small store cannot keep more than 3,000 medicines. Shelf size is less and the supply chain is fragmented.
“There is no single source where one can get all medicines. We will provide services and technology so that all medicines will be made available to the retailer within four hours. Every retailer will become a smart one,” said Shah. The company has acquired seven pharma distributors in the past 30 months and signed a strategic partnership with Chennai-based Muthu Pharmacy and the Gurugram-based 98.4 pharmacy retail chain.
In the partnership, Ascent has no equity stake. The intention is not to compete with the chains but to understand the pain points, said Shah.
The plan is to reach around 100,000 pharmacy outlets in two years, by when it will have a total of 20,000 pharmacies under strategic partnership, of which around 200-300 would be own outlets, through acquisition.