Guarding Your Health

Sigma Pharmaceuticals

Boasting thirteen distribution centres, four hundred suppliers, four thousand pharmacy customers and twelve thousand product lines, Sigma is proud to deliver six hundred thousand quality products every day.

“Sigma is focussed on healthcare solutions for pharmacists and customers,” explains Gary Dunne, Chief Operating Officer of Sigma Pharmaceuticals. “It is why we value our staff and the strong relationships with our suppliers and pharmacy customers and it’s why Sigma continues to hold a respected heritage for its contribution to the healthcare of Australians.”

In celebrating its centenary, Sigma has much to be proud of. Established with just a handful of products, Sigma’s growth and development over the ensuing hundred years stands as a testament to what can be achieved from small beginnings. The vision of Ernest Leete and Thomas Church has been more than realised through a century of service, not only to pharmacists, but to millions of individuals and families throughout the nation.

Navigating its way through many market changes, two World Wars and the Great Depression as well as witnessing the birth of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Sigma has continued to play a vital role in healthcare in Australia.

“Sigma has survived and evolved, successfully meeting all of the challenges placed before it – a testament to its ethos, culture and continuing determination to proudly serve pharmacists, as it had done from its beginnings.”

Despite continued development and growth, Sigma reported a loss in 2010 which threatened the company’s existence. For the first time since its inception, the publicly traded company was unable to offer its shareholders any returns. To bring stability back into the business, Sigma divested its pharmaceutical division and refocussed on its core business of wholesale and retail with the central tenet being its Customer Value Proposition (CVP).

Explains Mr Dunne, “The CVP ‘places pharmacists and consumers at the centre of everything we do for mutual benefit,’ which is a new approach for Sigma, who had for many years worked in an environment that focussed on manufacturing product and moving it through its retail base (banner groups).” While pharmacists were earning significant income from their dispensaries via generic medicines and wholesaler discounts, there was less focus on improving their front-of-shop service and product offer to consumers together with professional services.

“However, with ongoing PBS reform, this thinking is beginning to change,” explains Mr Dunne. Pharmacists are realising they need to extend their efforts beyond the dispensary in order to maintain strong revenue streams and bottom line performance.

In Australia, pharmacists are typically considered trusted health professionals within communities, which therefore enables them to provide a greater value-added service and product offering to offset the impact of declining dispensary profits.

“Moving forward from a transactional or financial relationship to a partnership with our pharmacy customers and suppliers, Sigma has developed a new senior leadership team with global expertise across its retail, e-commerce, marketing and merchandising fronts, complementing our existing team of dedicated staff.” A key part of Sigma’s approach is to maintain strong relationships with valued industry partners – Charter Mason, for instance, is a Management Consultancy firm who has worked closely with Sigma since its own launch five years ago to assist in the strategic reinvestment.

To help guide staff behaviour, Sigma developed ‘Our culture: the way we do things at Sigma,’ with a focus on partnerships, performance excellence, empowerment and accountability, agility, integrity and respect, and unity. It has centralised the coordination of learning and development to ensure availability of training to all employees nationally and promote succession for future capacity. Furthermore, Sigma operates its own reward program, Shine. The internal program is designed to recognise and reward Sigma employees and teams who demonstrate values and behaviours in line with Sigma’s desired culture; Partnerships; Performance Excellence; Empowerment & Accountability; Agility; Integrity & Respect and Unity.

The Brands

From its humble beginnings in the 1930s as Allied Master Chemists of Australia Limited (Amcal), the brand has developed over time to become the largest pharmacy led network in Australia. The Amcal brand is perhaps the most recognised in the country, bringing to customers a sense of time honoured traditions and superior quality. At the 2011 Roy Morgan Research Customer Satisfaction Awards, Amcal was awarded ‘Pharmacy of the Year.’

Sigma is also behind the Guardian brand – one of Australia’s most trusted retail brands. Guardian has served Australians for more than thirty years. The Guardian brand is committed to enhancing the role of the pharmacist in the community, with the mantra of ‘Advice, Trust, Care’ at the core of all its operations.

“Guarding people’s health is what we do day in day out,” comments Mr Dunne. “We protect the health of our consumers, their families and the communities in which we operate.” Guardian won the CANSTAR Blue Award in the Pharmacy category for Most Satisfied Customers for 2012, further underpinning the brand’s ethos. “We strive to be empathetic in our approach. We give you the advice and information you need to help make a decision that’s right for you. Ultimately the result is that we help to Guard Your Health.”

Working from a strong retail base, with two of Australia’s most recognised brands, Sigma Pharmaceuticals is also showing new growth through the introduction of the Amcal Max brand. This newly positioned brand has grown by twelve stores over the past year. Launched in 2005, Amcal Max is a dynamic, modern, retail pharmacy that has emerged from the strong foundations of Amcal.

Recently, Sigma has embraced the use of Brand Ambassadors. Georgie Parker is working with the team as Brand Ambassador for the Amcal and Amcal Max brands. In addition, Dr Cindy Pan represents Guardian as Brand Ambassador.

As part of its new strategic direction, Sigma has committed to a major investment in multichannel. Sigma believes there is an upside in developing new channels for pharmacists and suppliers through which to collaboratively grow product and category sales. Dovetailed into this is a social media program to create awareness.

At present, Sigma is developing further opportunities to grow its brand presence within Australia, and launched new marketing campaigns for all three of its brands in July 2012.

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December 19, 2018, 5:14 AM AEDT