Awards - 2013 Essex Countrywide Business Awards – A1 is Growing Business of the Year
Friday evening saw A1 Pharmaceuticals collect the latest in a string of business awards. Nominated in the large business category, A1 saw off tough competition to seal the Growing Business Award, which crowned a record year for the pharmaceutical wholesaler. The award is designed to recognise companies in Essex who have been trading for a minimum of three years, and who can demonstrate high growth revenue and profit over the last year. The company’s founder, pharmacist Gary Lewis, was a finalist in the Businessman of the Year category.
A1 Pharmaceuticals had its origins in humble beginnings, and this success reflects the hard work put in by Gary and his team over the 26 years the company has been trading. Gary and co-founder and wife, Carmen, both grew up on a poor council estate in London. Gary was one of only two students to pass O-Level Economics at the inner city secondary school he attended, and founded the company in 1987 after graduating in Pharmacy. Carmen was responsible for sales, and in the early days worked as the only employee while Gary managed the company strategy. Gary and Carmen started the company with minimal capital of only £1350, and were forced to work seven day weeks, often in excess of eighty hours per week to enable the company to get off the ground. Now in its 26th year, A1 has transformed into an international undertaking. From sales of £0.03 million in its first year, A1 has averaged annual growth of 33%.
l-r: sales director Chris Dancer, purchasing director Carmen Lewis, managing director Gary Lewis and Business Development Executive Anup Chakraborty.
Despite the difficult economic climate, A1 Pharmaceuticals continues to flourish under the leadership of managing director Gary Lewis, ably supported by the strong team he has assembled. Over the last three years A1 has achieved 100% growth. The judges noted that one of the key criteria was the ability to show international expansion, coupled with domestic growth. A1 has certainly done this, with the 2012-13 financial year witnessing record results for the company, both on the domestic and international fronts. Sales turnover for the year was £52 million, and with only forty employees, this means that A1 has one of the highest sales revenues per employee in the UK. The award caps a successful year in which the company also received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
The judges commented that “A1 has demonstrated a growth strategy that has achieved outstanding levels of sales, profit and market share improvement, and has a robust plan in place for sustained financial growth. The company has always strived to continue building on its success, and Gary commented that the next goal is to achieve £100 million in sales turnover by 2020 – Gary’s 60th birthday. Gary paid tribute to the team at A1, stating that A1’s success “demonstrates what can be achieved when young people from many different backgrounds and races, each with different skills, are welded together as one team”.
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