Reaching out to the world

Consumers looking for alternative medical solutions

Consumers looking for alternative medical solutions: Sandeep Saxena

Homeopathy major Dr Batra’s has its clinics at the forefront of its growth strategy across all its markets. The company reports it is doing well in aesthetics and FMCG products too. Not too long ago, new initiatives like petcare were realised. Adding to a fully-equipped veterinary hospital in Delhi, the model will be expanded through small petcare centres. Although in a nascent stage like its petcare business, there’s a medical academy by Dr Batra’s.

This education venture kicked off about a year ago and is affiliated to the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), according to Sandeep Saxena, CEO of Dr Batra’s Group of Companies, who spoke to the BusinessLine. Excerpts:

How big is the network of clinics you have?

As we speak, we’ve got around 225 clinics in India and some overseas. In total, we’re present in more than 120 cities. We’ll soon have a new clinic in the UAE, but we’ve got three there already. Adding to that, we have two in London and one in Dhaka – which makes it six international clinics.

Our expansion plans will be focused around the Gulf, the UK, and we would like to have three clinics totally in Dhaka. We’re also looking to enter markets like Bhutan with our homeopathy clinics business.

What has fuelled this growth?

As a global trend, consumers are looking for safer, alternative medical solutions, rather than only banking on one stream of medicine… we’ve been able to grow from one clinic in the 1990s in Bengaluru to 16 now – it’s one of the top three markets for us.

How does that translate in numbers?

Bengaluru contributes about 14 per cent to the total turnover from the India business. It’s one of the emerging and fastest growing cities for us in terms of market penetration. Our patient base in Bengaluru stands at about 17,000 at present. Mumbai and Delhi come next as far as our top markets are concerned.

What is your total patient base?

The active patient database stands at more than 1,02,000 and this is for patients currently being treated by us across all our markets. In Bengaluru, for example, we have approximately 2,000 new patients visiting us every month… this is to give a broad idea of the rate of growth in that city.

Do you treat largely skin and hair problems?

We have over 350 doctors and our predominant base is in the hair category – about 60 per cent of our patient base. Second, 15-20 per cent is of skin patients. A third chunk of patients are in allergy and respiratory problems, and the remaining 10 per cent is a mix of all kind of health conditions even rare conditions.

In our aesthetics business, 95 per cent of the business we do is hair-related. Of course, we’ve added weight management and Bengaluru is our pilot market. We’ve got five clinics in that segment.

On the education front, what is your intake?

It’s a one-year postgraduate fellowship course in homeopathy dermatology. In our first batch, we had 33 senior doctors taking up that course. This year, we’ll continue that course , but also start a new one in advance homeopathy. The idea is to create a centre of excellence for knowledge sharing, medical knowledge expansion.

How strong is your FMCG business in your own assessment?

We have 49 SKUs (stick-keeping units) today and it ranges from haircare products to skincare as well as personal care. Our products are all natural products and contain no harmful chemicals – that’s our key USP. Bengaluru is once again a key market.  We’re present in almost all modern trade stores like SPAR, Total, Hypercity and leading pharmacies like Apollo, Health and Glow… in about 55 stores in total and we’ve been in this space for two years.