Irish Pharmacy News recently spoke to Country Manager, Mr Diarmuid Gavin to find out more about the strengths which push the company continually to rate as number one within their market sector, and to understand the challenges faced recently as Ireland, and indeed the world, came face-to-face with Covid-19.
Maintaining Close Links
Théa is Europe’s leading and pioneering Eye Health Group founded in 1994 by Henri Chibret. The Chibret family has been dedicated to ophthalmology for more than 150 years. Théa headquarters are based in Clermont Ferrand in France and ran by Jean Frederic Chibret and his uncle Henri.
Jean-Frederic is married to Norma Quirke from County Tipperary so he has close links with Ireland and follows local Gaelic games closely. Théa is very much a family run company and being part of Théa is like be part of a global family where people always come first.
Diarmuid Gavin explains, “TheaPamex is the Irish subsidiary of Laboratoires Théa and was set up in 2018 in Ireland. Within a year through our focus on education and quality we managed to earn the trust of Ophthalmologists, Pharmacists and consumers around the country and become their Number 1 choice for eye care.
“Our strength lies within our people; a team of dedicated, highly motivated and driven professionals ready to satisfy with the most efficient and effective way the increasing needs and wants of our customers and consumers for eye health.”
The company places a big emphasis on its values, education and its vision. The major pillars which continue to shape TheaPamex center around a strong belief in excellence of service.
“Our motto is “Eye Care without Compromise” because we believe neither the consumers nor the health care professionals should be given sub-standard products,”Diarmuid continues.
“Our company ethos is driving innovation, education and professionalism in improving eye health. Our vision is to remain the undisputed Number 1 choice in the eye care industry in Ireland by creating lasting, quality value for both customers and consumers and staying close to their needs with integrity, truth and dignity.
Education is Key
“Education of our team and of our customer base is the cornerstone to our success. We have developed modules for pharmacy staff training to help understand the eye care category and to aid in the identification of eye conditions that may present to pharmacy. We have recently engaged with GP’s and we are now running educational meetings around eye care in General Practice. We are closely linked with the major secondary care eye centres and work closely with the Ophthalmologists to deliver educational talks to GP’s.”
TheaPamex have recently partnered with Advanced Ophthalmic Systems who offer a software solution to Optometrists to enable remote triaging of patients during these current restricted times.
“Preservative Free is in our DNA. Théa understand the importance of preservative free in maintaining the health of the ocular surface of the eye and have developed many Innovative solutions for eye care, their ABAK bottle is the most widely used, preservative free multi dose dispenser in the world. With many new products on the horizon, Théa’s innovative spirit drives new discoveries,” he adds.
Coping with Covid
No one individual, or company has escaped the challenges brought forth by Covid-19. Fast paced adapting and protecting of strong market brands is what Diarmuid believes has ensured TheaPamex has successfully risen to the challenge.
“Firstly, our key message has been to ‘look after yourself and family’. All sales and office staff were asked to stay home once Covid 19 broke in early March. We quickly adapted with by weekly “town hall” meetings and Zoom coffees on a 1:1 basis.
“The heart of our business is our fantastic team of people, as education is a core pillar in our business, we set up an internal training program spear headed by our training manager Mairead Heffernan.
“We realised that our customers were busy and operating under new conditions and challenges so we supported from a distance if called upon. We realised that working from home can be difficult for some depending on circumstances with children, Wi-Fi and living space. So it was important to be flexible and understand each individual’s circumstance and adapt to support our colleagues.
“Théa Global were very clear in their communication of support for every member of the Théa family. No one will be left behind.
“We have maintained the fun element to working at TheaPamex and developed “TheaGram”, weekly points that could be won for the best presentation, best work at home outfit, and this week is best 80’s love song with an eye theme!
“Furthermore, we have prepared our team for a new world of e-detailing and limited access across all our customers, Pharmacies, GP’s, Optometrists, and Ophthalmologists. Our return to face-to-face meetings will be at the right time for our customers, we must be patient. In the meantime, there is much to do; PPE training, new product training and development of a five year strategic plan to see Théa grow a deeper and wider presence on your pharmacy shelf.”
Future of the Industry
The impact of Covid will continue to be felt long into the future. As Ireland starts to loosen restrictions and a ‘new normal’ emerges, we asked Diarmuid what he foresees as the future landscape of the industry.
“Covid 19 has impacted heavily on all our lives. Safety is the most important consideration to keep front of mind for our teams and their families.
“I’m proud of Ireland and how we all rose to the challenge of containment, the message was clear right from the start, no ifs, buts or maybes. That’s good leadership.
“The new norm will emerge and we will together adapt to ensure we play our part in preventing the spread of the virus. I expect we will see a progressive return to a new norm with visits to the pharmacy being reduced and customers having prepared their shopping list.
“I see online as being a very important tool and service to provide customers. With the recent “push through” of e scripts, it shows that it can be done and that often Ireland can be held up by bureaucracy and red tape. Now is the time to learn new skills, change old habits, and build better systems to support our new world.
“If not now, when?”
In looking to the effects of longterm impact on footfall, and sales, he adds. “In business, cash flow is king, credit terms allow you sell what you have to get cash in to pay for your last order and place your next order. That will be a challenge if costs have risen (PPE) and sales are down (footfall).
“This will have a knock on effect on the ability to afford rentals, utilities and locum cover which gives the owner a chance to recharge and take a much needed break. Pharmacy staff are on the frontline every day and they have loved ones at home who may be vulnerable, keeping staff motivated over a sustained period is a challenge but I believe regular staff briefings with time for Q & As are most important. Keeping a fun factor even under current restrictions is crucial, the team who can laugh together can certainly work together.”
There are many exciting developments coming to fruition within TheaPamex, as the company continues to build on their already incredibly strong brand.
“Théa Ireland will emerge from a joint venture with Pamex Ltd in January 2022,” he says.
“Our pipeline is hot with many exciting new products for Blepharitis and Dry Eye. Thealoz Duo is our flagship product for dry eye and we aim to launch four line extensions over the coming years. This will see your eye care category become decluttered from many of the older generation products to a new era of streamlined eye care from Théa.”