Client Story: Iron Pharmacy Group

Posted on 9/4/2019


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Operating 22 retail pharmacies across Australia, the Iron Pharmacy Group utilises Perks as their external finance team to handle all their accounting, cash flow, budgeting and forecasting, tax, bookkeeping and finances. With dedicated expertise in pharmacy, Perks ensures the Group navigates through challenges highlighted by legislative changes and captures new opportunities to map out a strong future for the business.

Many football fans will have fond memories of Darryl Wakelin. A rugged defender, he played in the AFL for St Kilda and Port Adelaide, where he was a crucial part of the club’s 2004 premiership success. In 2007, after an illustrious 261-game career, he hung up the boots in pursuit of a new challenge in the world of pharmacy.

From humble beginnings operating a suburban pharmacy in the Port Adelaide Football Club heartland of Alberton, Darryl is now a partner in the Iron Pharmacy Group which operates 22 retail pharmacies across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The Group primarily operates in regional areas throughout country Victoria and New South Wales and provides pharmacy supply services to remote and Indigenous communities throughout the Northern Territory. It also operates several metropolitan pharmacies in Sydney, Adelaide and Darwin.

“Working with Perks gives us access to the best people to handle our finances without having to deal with the day-to-day hassles of recruitment and the expenses associated with maintaining hardware and infrastructure.”

While this journey has had many twists and turns, Perks has been by Darryl’s side every step of the way. Darryl has worked with Perks on a personal level for more than 10 years and as part of the Iron Pharmacy Group for the last five.

Over that time, the relationship has developed to a point where Perks essentially operates as the external finance team for Iron Pharmacy Group, handling all of their accounting, cash flow, budgeting and forecasting, tax, bookkeeping and finance.

“Not only does this save us a lot of money in terms of overheads, but we have confidence knowing that Perks operates with all the latest technology and are across current legislation, which means we can focus on running the business.”

With most of the Iron Pharmacy Group pharmacies operating outside of Adelaide, and many in regional areas, the scalability and flexibility of the solutions offered by Perks has been a key benefit of the relationship, according to Darryl.

“The previous pharmacy group we were working with had a large and cumbersome head office, so we were adamant when we transitioned across to create Iron Pharmacy Group that we wanted to keep our head office quite lean and have the ability to scale up and down as necessary,” he said.

“When we initially left the other group, we brought a number of stores across. We started with 15 stores and had as many as 30 pharmacies under our management, which we brought across over an 18-month period. “The ability of Perks to work remotely, especially when doing the initial setup and training at a new site is a big help.

“It ensures all the systems being used at the coal face are integrated with our own systems and feed information through to the back-end at Perks, which enables them to deliver to in-depth reporting that we use to make crucial business decisions.”

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Iron Pharmacy Group. Changes to government legislation over the past five years has negatively impacted profitability in the pharmacy industry, which has led the Group to consolidate its holdings – a process they worked through closely with Perks.

“Over the past few years, we’ve actually scaled back again and sold off some assets that didn’t quite match the direction we were headed in with our core business,” he said.

“The flexibility of the solutions offered by Perks have allowed us to easily scale back down and reduce the size of the teams as necessary.”

“However, the core requirement is that these changes are managed and reported through to our stakeholders in a manner that is easy to understand and consistent with the current pharmacy business model.”

Perks’ dedicated expertise in pharmacy and close working relationship with Darryl and his team has ensured that the Group has been able to not only navigate the challenges highlighted by these legislative changes, but also capture new opportunities and map out a strong future for the business.

“With the way the legislation has evolved over the last four years there’s a number of different programs and revenue streams that have come into play,” Darryl said.

“Working closely with Perks has ensured that we are able to capitalise on these legislative changes, while also navigating the challenges they present and the everyday demands of our business.

“Ultimately, it’s about having a consistent approach in the way we communicate relevant financial information to stakeholders and using this to capitalise on sustainable and profitable growth over time.”

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