KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore-listed Enviro-Hub Holdings Ltd, which opened its first R Pharmacy here on Saturday through 40% jointly owned subsidiary Pastel Care Sdn Bhd, plans to invest RM12.5 million to set up 25 outlets of R Pharmacy in Malaysia by year-end.

Enviro-Hub has a diverse portfolio that includes trading, recycling and refining of e-waste/metals, piling contracts, construction, rental and servicing of machinery, property investment and management, as well as plastics to fuel refining.

In 2021, Enviro-Hub diversified into the healthcare business with its acquisition of Malaysia’s Pastel Glove, marking the group’s foray into glove manufacturing. This year, the group is expanding into the healthcare consumables sector with the opening of retail pharmacies in Malaysia under the R Pharmacy brand.

R Pharmacy CEO Adrian Toh said its outlet in Bukit Jalil is the first out of six in the pipeline and a total of 25 outlets targeted by the end of the year.

“We are able to do that because of the recipe. We already know the next step. We’ve already designed the whole mechanism for the storefront, the hiring of people, inventory, the whole process we just need to replicate,” Toh told SunBiz at the opening of R Pharmacy at the weekend.

With a concept aimed at millennials “to excite the market” in Malaysia, R Pharmacy is not a franchise, said Toh.

“It’s because we don’t want our stores to be different. When people take over your franchise, they might operate it in their way. Everything might be very different. Defeats the whole meaning and purpose of R Pharmacy.”

Toh saw great potential in the pharmacy business in the country when Covid-19 happened as people became more health-conscious. He also saw many people take supplements that might not be suitable or that could be harmful to them.

“It’s not like you just read online then you know, you need a certified pharmacist to talk to you,” he said.

Toh, who comes from a family that owns the Kikilala brand, said: “This is my idea to start a pharmacy in Malaysia. I don’t have experience in the pharmacy business but I know the retail business very well.”

Most pharmacies only focus on the pricing so Toh wants to be different. With the tagline “Really More Than Just a Community”, Toh wants people to walk into R Pharmacy and find someone to talk to.

“My mom used to tell pharmacists about everything. When people feel tired, just come to my pharmacy and talk.

“R Pharmacy will not just be a place to buy medicine. Pharmacies are the promoter of the brands. We have to talk to the customers. That’s the same thing with the Kikilala brand. This is how you promote and make people aware of the brand.”

Toh said the pharmacy business in Malaysia is very fragmented with the big players owning only around 4-5% market share.

“So I would think that the pharmacy business will be very rosy in the future.”

Toh said R Pharmacy will have new and different features such as e-prescription, reminders to take medicine via the app, tiered membership, and more.

Each pharmacy costs the group RM500,000 to RM600,000 and Toh targets the first outlet in Bukit Jalil to have a revenue of RM300,000 to RM400,000 per month.

Toh said the margin in the pharmacy business can seem minimal, at about 10%, especially for pharmacies in the infant stage.

“But you can go to RM1-2 million per store per month so it really depends on how mature your store is. When the business starts to scale, your cost structure is the same, rental, your staff, are similar. So your margin will start to improve.”

R Pharmacy’s mission is to make leading healthcare products more accessible to their customers. The retail pharmacy will focus on health supplements and medication brands that prioritise reliability. In-house pharmacists will be present at each retail store to provide advice and services to customers.

R Pharmacy aspires to position itself as the heartland pharmaceutical store of Malaysia.

The opening of R Pharmacy builds on Enviro-Hub’s ambition to become a leading integrated healthcare supplies player in the region.

Commenting on the new business venture, Enviro-Hub executive chairman Raymond Ng said, “The opening of R Pharmacy reaffirms our big push into the health supplies industry. The recent global health crisis has shed light on the need for healthcare solutions that are reliable, accessible and affordable.

“By reinventing the way we think about pharmacies, I believe we can understand our customers better and connect them to more superior products and services. As we expand the R Pharmacy brand, we hope to set a new benchmark for quality retail healthcare.”