18 June 2020 - Deborah Wilkes
Vision Healthcare’s e-commerce platform offers an effective way for consumer healthcare companies to sell their products directly to consumers, according to founder and chief executive officer Yvan Vindevogel.
Speaking exclusively to OTCToolbox, Vindevogel said the European company had “lots of experience of consumer healthcare” and “more and more experience in the online world”. “This combination is unique,” he commented.
Avista taking stake in Vision
Private-equity firm Avista Capital Partners is set to take a stake in Vision Healthcare in a deal valuing the company at EUR305 million (USD336 million) (click here to read the News story).
Vindevogel said Vision Healthcare’s ambition was to become a “leading global omnichannel consumer healthcare platform with a unique digitised direct-to-consumer approach”.
He added that Avista’s presence in North America would help Vision Healthcare “accelerate its plans to expand in the region through targeted acquisitions”.
Rapid growth through acquisitions
Vision Healthcare has grown rapidly through a combination of a buy-and-build strategy and organic growth since it was formed in 2017. The Belgian company reported sales of more than EUR135 million in 2019, and its products are available in several countries including Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.
It houses the Bärbel Drexel, Cute Nutrition, Flinndal, Medivital, Mylene, Purasana, Remark and VitaminExpress businesses acquired over the past few years, as well as three brands acquired from Belgian firm Qualiphar in 2018.
Vindevogel says Vision Healthcare takes an “omnichannel” approach with a “specific focus on the emerging digitalised and direct-to-consumer channels”. The company, he adds, connects with end consumers through a range of channels including e-commerce, marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba, social media, influencers, mail order, catalogues, home parties and teleshopping.
Digital team is a key asset
Bart Dobbelaere, chief operating officer of Vision Healthcare, tells OTCToolbox that the company’s digital team is one of its key assets. The team comprises online brand marketeers to develop the online marketing plans, technical people to build the webshops and IT systems, and e-commerce activators. The latter group includes specialists in search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine advertising (SEA) and email marketing.
“Generalists build the market plan,” says Dobbelaere, “and it is then up to the experts to activate within their field.”
Vindevogel remarks that a digital strategy requires “more than one or two people within a workforce of hundreds of people”.
Vision Healthcare, he says, aims to have a “couple of hundred people focusing on digital marketing and e-commerce”. The company is looking to recruit the best people in technology, direct-to-consumer marketing, consumer behaviour and IT, he adds.
Chief financial officer Bernard Lemaire points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having an effective direct-to-consumer presence. He says Vision Healthcare has a lot to offer consumer healthcare companies, either through partnerships or acquisitions.
Lemaire also notes that Vision Healthcare is seeking to expand its presence in OTC medicines. The majority of its products are vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS), cosmetics and self-care devices.
The COVID-19 pandemic will encourage more countries to allow e-commerce for OTC medicines, says Lemaire, and Vision Healthcare intends to be at the forefront of providing such products to consumers when regulations are liberalised.