For any company, undergoing a major merger or acquisition can be disruptive, often challenging and in some cases, can even break apart a client or customer base. After all, if a leading conglomerate swallows up a smaller company, will that smaller company and its smaller operating model and attitudes continue to exist?
This is the question facing Accord Healthcare, a subsidiary of Intas Pharmaceuticals, born out of the acquisition of Actavis UK and Ireland ltd in January 2017. The goal of Accord? To become the best supplier of generic medicines in the UK and Ireland.
Heading up the company’s supply chain operations is Brandon Turk, Director of EU Supply Operations. Brandon brings with him more than 20 years’ experience operating in the supply chain space across a number of sectors, before joining Actavis back in 2015.
In fact, it is this diversified experience across multiple sectors that allows Brando to steer this ambitious company towards that goal of being a leading European player.
“I very much view supply chain as a toolset that you can take with you from company to company,” he says. “If you understand how things are made, you can apply that logic and best practice supply chain processes to pretty much any industry.”
Accord is very much a growing company and in the generic medicines space, this can present a challenge in trying to establish a solid footing in a crowded market. Prior to the merger, Actavis was already a leading supplier of generic pharmaceuticals in the UK, with a portfolio that supports more than 85% of pharmacists dispensing needs. Intas Pharmaceuticals is among the top 10 Indian pharmaceutical companies and is the largest privately held pharmaceutical company in India.
With the coming together of two leading pharmaceutical players, where then does that leave Accord? Is it an extension of what’s come before or is it a new entity altogether?
“It’s one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in Europe,” says Brandon. “Through the acquisition of Actavis, we have a very strong pipeline of new generic medicines coming to the market, a significant investment into R&D and a constant desire to grow the business rapidly.”
Brandon notes that in the pharmaceutical space, remaining competitive is a continuous challenge as consumers and pharmacists aren’t just choosing products based on the packaging; rather the key drivers are the quality of the product, the reliability of the service and most importantly, availability.
This is where Accord differentiates itself, as the company prides itself on its consistent level of service and its agility.
In the pharmaceuticals market, agility, it seems, is king.
“Pharmaceuticals is a very, very dynamic market,” says Brandon. “It’s commodity driven, so when a branded player or another generic supplier goes out of stock, that’s where the we have to be very agile and have that responsive supply chain.”
That’s exactly what Brandon is trying to do with Accord, developing and cementing an agile and responsive supply chain in order to ensure that Accord’s products are on the shelves when patients need them.
“It goes back to what I said earlier, putting those practices in place so that Accord can build a reputation as a reliable supplier,” he says.
In order to be an agile supplier, Brandon cannot stress enough the importance of market intelligence, forecasting and almost predicting the gaps that will emerge in the market.
Accord achieves this through strategic relationships with key partners and suppliers.
“We have a very structured account management organisation between managers, buyers and suppliers, and through this there is an exchange of data, which means we don’t sit and wait for an order – we are proactive,” says Brandon.
One key relationship is with the Department of Health (DOH), the governing body on healthcare throughout the UK. Accord maintains regular links with the DOH which enables the company to, in Brandon’s words, “keep an ear close to the ground”.
“It’s all about making sure that we are aware of what’s going on in the market and we work hard on our relationships in the market so that we know that when there is a gap in supply, we are there, we are agile and we can fill it,” he says.
As Accord continues to grow, the company is continuously expanding its portfolio. Launching more and more products in larger quantities, Brandon seeks out suppliers that can respond to the changing pace of demand that runs alongside this growth.
“We spend a lot of time every year building up strong, responsive, strategic partnerships with suppliers who can be as responsive and as agile as we are and as we need them to be,” says Brandon.
One such example of this is Essentra packaging, the principal supplier of the packaging components used to blister, label, leaflet and carton their products. Essentra has demonstrated the same level of agility that we strive for, responding to business opportunities at short notice and offering a flexible yet reliable service offering. Brandon explained that Accord packs large volumes and very quickly, thus relying on high quality components from its’ suppliers that perform consistently. The two organisations have spent many years building this partnership across not only the procurement function but also the artwork, regulatory and importantly quality sectors.
Key staff retention during acquisitions is critical to protecting your business continuity and with many of these projects under it’s belt Accord has a great track record.
“In pharmaceuticals, people are very conscious of what it is they’re supplying. Whereas in other industry supply chains, you understand what the product is and sometimes where it’s going, it’s different for pharmaceuticals,” says Brandon. “We believe in High Performing teams across the Accord network, through our culture of behaviours, our real aim is to attract grow and retain great people.
“We’ve actually been very good at retaining these people because they see what we do, the difference that we can make to patients as well as plenty of development and progression opportunities throughout the company.”
Accord has lofty ambitions and at the rate at which the company is growing, equipped with the best supply chain practices and an experienced and passionate workforce, Brandon can look beyond being a leading player.
“You can make it into the top 10, but you want to be number one,” he says. “Accord is continuously diversifying its portfolio, launching new products into new markets, so really we are only at the beginning of our journey. Who knows where we’ll go from here.”