(Source: BusinessWorld | January 26, 2016)
Ayala Corp. has started experimenting with retail health clinics, a new health care format with a potential to expand to over a hundred clinics in three years, as part of the Philippines’ oldest conglomerate’s move to increase exposure in “underinvested” sectors.
Ayala has identified the area of social infrastructure such as health care and education as one of its key investment clusters, Paolo Maximo F. Borromeo, group head of corporate strategy and development, told reporters in Makati City yesterday. The conglomerate has pledged to pour in $100 million in the education sector, of which $20 million to $30 million has been already been spent.
“If you think about those two sectors (health care and education), our thesis is they need capital to grow. There’s pent-up demand for quality health care,” Mr. Borromeo said.
Wholly owned unit Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. is putting up retail clinics, at a cost of P6 million to P7 million each, that will incorporate a convenience store, pharmacy and primary care services under the FamilyDoc brand, he said.
Each retail clinic, with a size of 100 square meters, may reach break-even point in a year and a half, Mr. Borromeo added.
Patterned after models in the United States, India and Indonesia, FamilyDoc will rise in middle-income communities and around its network of QualiMed Hospitals — a joint venture of the conglomerate’s real estate arm Ayala Land, Inc. with the Mercado medical group.
Ayala started the roll out of the retail clinics last month, with two outlets in Imus and Las Piñas. So far, each clinic has been serving 50 patients on a daily basis, with consultation fees pegged at P350.
“This one, when you go out, it’s right smack outside your house. Madaling puntahan ng tao (It’s easily accessible for people),” Mr. Borromeo said.
Ayala will need three months’ worth of data before launching the venture, but Mr. Borromeo said the conglomerate can scale it up to “over a hundred clinics in three years, nationwide if we are successful.”
“It’s basically a consumer play. The first few years won’t have a significant impact yet, but it is basically tapping into the growing consumer segment,” Lexter L. Azurin, head of research at Unicapital Securities, Inc., said in a phone interview.
The conglomerate’s latest health care venture is taking off from its acquisition of a 50% stake in Generika Drugstore last year. Generika has 570 stores nationwide.
The Ayala group entered the health care sector in 2014 through QualiMed, which focuses on building hospitals and satellite clinics within Ayala Land’s real estate projects.
Ayala Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said in April the health care business could be the next major new growth area for the conglomerate.
The Ayala group’s recent foray into health care is part of the conglomerate’s massive transformation in recent years that saw it enter businesses offering services to a larger part of the population, paving the way for investments in education, water, telecommunications, power and infrastructure.
The conglomerate also has interests in real estate, banking, manufacturing and automotive. Shares in Ayala Corp. lost P21 or 3.19% to P638 each on Tuesday.
— By Krista A.M. Montealegre
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