Husband and wife team, Pharmacist Gary Lewis and his wife Carmen launched A1 Pharmaceuticals Plc in 1986. Gary, a keen sportsman and tennis player graduated with a Pharmacy Degree in 1982. During the 6th form at Archbishop Michael Ramsay, an inner city Secondary school, Gary was one of only 2 students to pass Economics. After receiving his distinction in Economics his tutor Mr Baker pulled Gary to one side and said you are a natural entrepreneur and could build a multi-million pound turnover company. The seeds of the dream were sown and a 17 year old boy inspired by this amazing teacher and mentor. As a consequence of this experience Gary has always been a dedicated mentor to young people in business and sport, particularly those from deprived or disadvantaged backgrounds.
Whilst a Pharmacy student, when visiting Carmen in Brixton where she worked an arduous 50 hours per week as a sales assistant, Gary’s strong entrepreneurial eye noticed that Carmen had a natural ability to be liked and adored by her customers. When A1 was founded in 1986, the opportunity was immediately seized where Carmen would handle sales and Gary would manage the company and its strategy. Their humble backgrounds and blends of skills strongly complemented one another and has resulted in one of the most successful husband and wife teams in British business today.
The early days were extremely arduous with very little starting capital of only £2250 and no external investment in the first four years. The business in spite of these early difficulties and meagre funding survived and eventually flourished becoming today one of the most successful companies in its industry and ranked No54 in the Grant Thornton Essex top 100 of 200,000 limited companies in Essex.
In the early years, 26 year old Gary and Carmen only 21, were working 7 days a week in their own business, often working 80 hours or more. Carmen visited up to 40 retail outlets a day on foot which meant walking approximately 10 miles a day literally wearing out shoe leather and learning her craft the hard way. Neither had a company car for 3 years and the first years turnover was only £30,000 but it was a start and the seeds of a great company were sown!
As the years have progressed, Gary now 56 and Carmen 51 have a combined industry experience of 67 years, which enables them to use their wealth of knowledge and experience to be powerful mentors and leaders to their young team.
The net profit growth is arguably the key performance indicator for any company and has steadily increased from £3.2 million to a record £4.3 million in 2015, a healthy increase of 34% in just 2 years. The average annual sales growth since 2000 is a healthy 7% pa and the Managing Director Gary Lewis predicts that this growth rate will continue organically and without acquisition until the end of the decade.
The net current assets of A1 Pharmaceuticals Plc and its holding company were a record £12.3 million at the end of April 2015 the company is highly cash flow positive with excellent A* credit ratings and prides its self on arguably being the fastest payer of creditors in the industry.
This success has been achieved with the inspired leadership of a growing team combined with the skilful management of the company’s working capital and employees. Current sales are suggesting record sales of £58 million (€77 million) 2016/17 with only 40 employees this establishes A1 Pharmaceuticals Plc as one of the most people efficient companies in the world with annual sales turnover per employee of over £1.45 million (€1.90 million).