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.
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