Vijay Patel Honorary Doctors of Science, 2008
Bio | Citation
Vijay Patel and Bhikhu Patel are the brothers who have created the highly successful global pharmaceutical company Waymade Healthcare. Born into poverty in Kenya, their hard work, combined with innovation, drive and determination has led them to become inspirational leaders within healthcare.
After completing their early education in Africa, they moved to England to make their fortune. Vijay graduated from the College of Pharmacy in Leicester and Bhikhu, after taking A Levels at Kilburn Polytechnic, gained a place at Bristol University to read Architecture. Five years after qualifying, his need for a challenge proved too much and in 1980, he invested the £15,000 in his first business - two newsagent shops in Woolwich, London. Vijay opened his first pharmacy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in 1975. The business grew rapidly, developing into a chain of 20 outlets. In the early 1980s the company then expanded into buying and supplying medicines for its own chain, and then diversified into supplying hospitals and wholesalers.
Bhikhu joined the business to bring some financial control to the fast-growing operation and together in 1984, they founded Waymade Healthcare. Some years later they sold all but three of their pharmacies to concentrate on the supply of high quality, affordable medicines for those who need it. Waymade employs several hundred people at its office in Basildon, and the group has recently completed a number of deals for the rights to sell products throughout Europe, the Middle and Far East, Australia and New Zealand, and in Latin America. Their products are available in more than 100 countries.
Since finding success in the UK and globally, the brothers have been able to pursue goals more personal to them. They have opened a new school in their native town in Kenya to help give the children there a chance of a better education and lifestyle; sponsored medical camps in India, and ran a continuing programme in the setting-up of water wells. The latest feather in their cap is the Waymade College of Education at Vidyanagar University in Gujarat. Its aim is to enhance the English language skills of students for the betterment of themselves and others. In 2001, they were jointly voted Ernst and Young 'UK Entrepreneur of the Year' and they have won the attentions of a number of other top organisations and institutions.
In 2008, Vijay Patel and Bhikhu Patel were awarded the Honorary degrees of Doctors of Science.
Medical men in rude health - Vijay Patel
Roger Trapp meets two brothers who have built up a prosperous business from one pharmacy
Sunday, 30 June 1996
Vijay Patel has a simple explanation for the success of the healthcare company he runs with his brother, Bhikhu. "We are totally focused," he says.
And the object of that focus is equally clear. It is the customer. You have to know your market, he says, adding that everything the company does is linked to the hospital and pharmacy trade. "We think we know it better than anybody else."
As a result, they know that the pharmaceuticals market is consolidating - both at the production end and in the high street. Moreover, they realise that survival will depend upon being flexible and adaptable.
For now, though, prospering would be a better description of their state than surviving. Waymade, the Essex-based company that came 86th in the Independent on Sunday's latest annual listing of the 100 fastest-growing privately owned businesses in Britain, is continuing to see strong expansion in sales.
Turnover for 1995 rose 31 per cent to pounds 41m, and Vijay Patel, who acts as chief executive to his brother's managing director, is optimistic that a similar improvement will take sales through the pounds 50m barrier this year. Such sustained growth is just the sort of achievement that the Middle Market section of the listing, carried out in association with Price Waterhouse, the accountants, is designed to recognise. Last year Waymade came 22nd out of 50 in the category for companies that had sales of at least pounds 5m in the first year of the five-year period in which they are judged.
The origins of Waymade go back to a chemist's shop that Vijay opened in Leigh-on-Sea in the 1970s after qualifying as a pharmacist. Though his brother was practising as an architect, he was so excited by what he saw Vijay doing that in the early 1980s he joined the business. The group of shops, now 15-strong and spread over south-eastern Essex, became the springboard for the healthcare company that was established in 1984.
Though it has grown considerably, Waymade still specialises in marketing and distributing prescription medicines and manufacturing surgical products and medical devices. Its main market is domestic, but it is enjoying some success at exporting - an activity that recently helped it gain the title of one of Europe's most dynamic entrepreneurs.
More than 110 people are employed in the four divisions - covering medicines distribution; the manufacture of dressings, bandages and what it calls "innovative medical devices"; the development of a portfolio of branded prescription products acquired through licensing and marketing agreements and joint ventures; and the establishment of the Reflexion brand of perfumed body spray.
But the brothers, who are the children of Kenyan immigrants, have further ambitions. Vijay hopes that the development of the medical side will provide an opportunity for his own child, studying to be a doctor, to join the company.
Indeed, both he and Bhikhu believe the family connection has a significant part to play in their success. Now aged 45 and 47 respectively, they lost their father when they were six and eight and were brought up by their mother. She was, in Vijay Patel's words, "a very strong-willed woman" who wanted them to succeed.
Although they credit her with making them what they are today, they also acknowledge that she made them different. "We complement each other very well. Vijay has a great flair for sales and I control the finances," says Bhikhu.
Both point out that his architectural training has given the older brother a discipline that has helped in the development of the company. And though Bhikhu admits he sometimes misses his original profession, he contends that he is still in the building business through being part of an expanding company.
While he has a slightly different perspective from Vijay, he agrees with the emphasis on the customer and with being flexible enough to respond to such changes as the replacement of a single pharmacist with multi-outlet retail chains.
And though they have had to contend with a fierce recession and changing markets, it has been expansion all the way. The company has been profitable from the start and much of that money has been reinvested in expansion, with the result that each year's targets have been exceeded.
But, as Vijay says: "The biggest part of running a successful business is keeping it going."
And, lest anybody forget, the key to that comes back to the customer, he contends.
"It's a dreadful thing to say that if it wasn't for the customer life would be great," he says, referring to the still-all-too-familiar attitude of many complaints.
"The most important single person in your business is the customer."
HRH Prince of Wales presents business award to British Asian achiever - Vijay Patel
Eastern Eye, Britain's biggest selling Asian newspaper, today announces the winners of its first Asian Business Awards.
The awards are being presented on Tuesday 19th March at a gala dinner, to be attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, at the Natural History Museum in London.
The Prince of Wales will be presenting the Eastern Eye Young Achiever Award to a British Asian businessman who began his career selling fish at the age of 18 while studying for his A'levels. Shelim Hussain now aged 29, has a workforce of 200 staff in his food processing plants in Newport, South Wales and Croydon.
Young Achiever of the Year:
Shelim Hussain started in business at 18 while working as a part time waiter when he was still at college studying for his 'A' levels. He saw an opportunity when the local supplier of frozen seafood closed his business. Shelim, together with a friend, took on the deliveries at night, while continuing with their education during the day.
Two years later in 1993 he had formed Eurofoods (UK) and the company has grown rapidly since, almost doubling in size each year. Shelim, now 29, employs 200 staff and has food processing units in Newport, South Wales and in Croydon. He is also building a new plant in Bangladesh and has started a subsidiary in New York.
Shelim's company has revenues approaching £40m and he has also invested in a property development business in Wales.
Business of the Year:
Vijay Patel arrived in Britain from Kenya as teenagers with nothing more than some pocket money. They now control a formidable business in the pharmaceutical industry, with a current valuation of around £290m.
Theirs is a classic 'rags to riches' story, starting in Kenya where they struggled to survive after their father died. In 1967 they arrived in Britain and Vijay, studied at night school and university and trained as a pharmacist, opening his first shop with a loan from an uncle. His brother Bhikhu, joined him in expanding the business to 15 shops. In 1984 the brothers founded Waymade Healthcare, based in Basildon, Essex, and started supplying prescription medicines to pharmacies across the UK.
The brothers launched their own brand of medicines under the name of Sovereign by buying unwanted drugs from the multinationals and marketing them directly to retailers.
The business has flourished, with current revenues possibly approaching £200m and the brothers have invested in commercial and residential property.
Last year the Patels won a major accolade when they were named UK Entrepreneurs of the Year by Ernst & Young. The judges said: "It is an inspirational story from humble beginnings; they are role models for future entrepreneurs."
Entrepreneur of the Year:
Reuben Singh is one of Britain's most successful young entrepreneurs. Still only 25, he has already created and sold several successful businesses. Reuben started at 18 and by 22, had established the nationwide chain of Miss Attitude fashion stores, which he sold in 1998. The following year he was back in business with alldaypa.com, a 24-hour secretarial service aimed at small businesses and individuals.
The business has expanded rapidly and has plans to employ 1000 people in a communication centre employing PAs and secretaries. Like most successful entrepreneurs, Reuben is involved in a string of other enterprises. His Reuben Singh Group of Companies trades in property, currency, venture capital and construction. His venture capital fund 'Dream on Attitude' supports start-up ideas from young entrepreneurs by providing £50,000 for each project.
Newcomer of the Year:
Karl Sandhu, 35, has carved out a niche in a business full of stiff competition from some big players. He opened his first health and fitness club four years ago when he bought a derelict building in West London and converted it into an upmarket club. His company, Vistastar Leisure is now developing its third club in Harrow with an investment of £8m.
Karl has taken on some big names in the fast growing leisure sector because he believes he can deliver better customer service.
Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of Eastern Eye
Waymade Healthcare PLC: Information from Answers.com
Created £450m valued Waymade Healthcare in 1975
Waymade Healthcare Plc