Tra­di­tional ser­vice in an ever-chang­ing industry

e world of phar­macy has changed enor­mously since Richard Malouf rst started work­ing; how­ever it is a tra­di­tional phi­los­o­phy of old-fash­ioned sup­port and ser­vice that has helped make his com­pany so suc­cess­ful through more than 50 years of busi­ness.

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Malouf Phar­ma­cies is the largest chain of pri­vately-owned phar­ma­cies in Aus­tralia, em­ploy­ing some 450 sta across the phar­macy busi­ness and an­other 150 through their cos­metic and fra­grance stores. In an era of huge na­tional chains and ‘dis­count su­per­stores’ this is no mean feat.

Richard Malouf started his jour­ney with “one tiny lit­tle half shop” in Al­bert Street Bris­bane in 1962, grow­ing it into a $140 mil­lion busi­ness to­day.

“ at rst store is prob­a­bly my great­est achieve­ment, in that I started it from scratch rather than tak­ing it over from any­one else – and then it grew from there,” he says.

How­ever, Richard’s in­ter­est in the industry goes back even fur­ther than that rst store, with a fond mem­ory for a lo­cal phar­macy in Maxville, Queens­land back when he was barely 10 years old.

“I think I al­most made my mind up back in those days when I would visit the store and felt like a great place to be,” he ex­plains laugh­ing. “My fa­ther had a very big fash­ion store, pos­si­bly the big­gest in Aus­tralia. So I ac­tu­ally went into the fash­ion industry a lit­tle bit while I was study­ing phar­macy, work­ing di­rectly with my fa­ther where he taught me how to buy and how re­tail worked. It gave me an idea of trad­ing, and it’s those skills that I still have in my busi­ness to­day.”

Phar­macy was a very di er­ent re­tail o er­ing to what we see to­day. As Richard notes, when he opened that rst store in 1962, peo­ple bought tooth­paste, toi­let pa­per and more at the phar­macy, whereas the large su­per­mar­ket chains now have a stran­gle­hold on those goods.

Equally, one of the roles of the phar­ma­cist was to cre­ate the med­i­ca­tions in the shop.

“Ev­ery sec­ond pre­scrip­tion you got was a mix­ture that was made by adding var­i­ous in­gre­di­ents into an oint­ment, pow­der or some­times into pills. You were a com­pound­ing phar­ma­cist in the real sense of the ti­tle. en the big drug com­pa­nies came in to the game and were able to make the re­ally com­mon mix­tures in bulk at bet­ter prices and sup­ply it all as pack­aged goods un­til that be­came the stan­dard process.”

For a fam­ily busi­ness to sur­vive such change shows a will­ing­ness to in­no­vate and an abil­ity to un­der­stand what the mar­ket wants. In­deed, even when Richard rst started in the industry, he was pi­o­neer­ing the ser­vice o er­ing to the mar­ket.

“Hav­ing that fash­ion industry un­der­stand­ing made me look at things a bit di er­ently,” he says. “Most phar­ma­cies in those days were pretty ba­sic in o er­ing and look. I de­cided that we needed to make it quite glam­ourous, so as I opened new stores I in­tro­duced new things. I think I might have been the rst one to ever car­pet a phar­macy – they were al­ways vinyl oored places back then.”

Richard also used those early days to ven­ture into per­fume and fol­lowed his fa­ther’s fash­ion store ideas to make the ex­pe­ri­ence more ex­cit­ing and en­joy­able for the con­sumer.

“ ey used to have live mod­els in those days who would walk around the stores as they did in Amer­ica. Ev­ery­body wanted to shop where the mod­els shopped so it cre­ated a real pres­ence about the place.”

An­other ma­jor step for­ward came when Richard’s younger brother Ian joined the busi­ness. Richard says it was some­thing of a “nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion” with Ian also study­ing phar­macy and get­ting a taste for the busi­ness whilst work­ing through hol­i­days.

“Ian’s about 15 years younger than me and once he de­cided to study phar­macy he got a feel for the busi­ness and was ob­vi­ously able to o er a lot as we ex­panded.”

is nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion ex­tended to the man­ner in which the two broth­ers took the busi­ness for­ward. Over the years Ian fo­cused on the ac­tual phar­macy side, whilst Richard con­cen­trated on the busi­ness side. rough the years it has ex­tended, with nieces and neph­ews join­ing and bring­ing new skills and

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