We meet Alitam member Nick Thorne.
Nick is at the forefront of the Welsh government’s initiative to broaden the remit of clinical pharmacy; and his three stores in the Cardiff area are a force to be reckoned with. Nick, together with business partner David Fairclough, built the business on the foundation of a talented and loyal team; focused on delivering fantastic customer service. Nick is now spearheading greater clinical roles for his pharmacists, lighting the way for the pharmacies of other nations to follow. Feisal Nahaboo says, “Nick works tirelessly to prove just how much a forward-thinking pharmacist can do. He has a visionary government behind him, and is now also powered by the group strength of Alitam. His considerable experience of the new clinical territory for pharmacy is a real boon; and his focus on the wellbeing of staff, and their professional development, is an inspiration.”
Beating the competition
Nick acquired his first store in 2007, in a highly competitive market. “It was tough competing with the big multiples,” he explains. “But I persisted. Having identified a store where I could make a real difference, I won the bid and since increased its turnover sixfold. Two more stores followed and today I have a staff of 24, including 4 full time delivery drivers.”
Nick discerned other opportunities early on. “From the outset it was clear the only way to compete was through superlative customer service. And that’s all down to the team around me. I put a lot of effort into recruiting and training staff, so they’re happy and dedicated to the cause of customer contentment. This in turn leads to loyal customers who trust us implicitly. It’s a simple precept, but a powerful one.”
Another area of improvement caught Nick’s eye. “The more time my pharmacists have to spend with customers, the better the level of individual care and the stronger our business. So I relieved them of prescription-checking duties by training staff to be Accredited Check in Technicians. This freed up the pharmacists to deliver the clinical services the Welsh government encourages us to offer. We’ve since taken this even further by implementing the Common Ailments Service (treating a wide range of conditions directly) and training two Independent Prescribers. Currently these IPs provide support with many aspects of women’s health and an oral contraceptive service. But the will of the government, and ourselves, is for them to cover a more extensive clinical remit. We’re absolutely ready to go ahead, once the focus shifts away from the demands of the pandemic.”
‘Alitam is an inspiration’
Nick is candid about the instant appeal of the Alitam model. “I’d already worked with several people closely involved with the genesis of Alitam, and respect and trust them completely. So I knew it had to be something special. And, once the concept was explained, I felt it was a no-brainer. Bringing diverse strengths together, pooling the knowledge and experience gained by providing so many different services….It’s an inspiration. As an independent I’ve been attending to building a team and increasing turnover; but Alitam has really focused me on increasing profit margins through delivering more private services. In the past year alone I’ve taken on many more, including allergy testing, ear wax removal and a travel clinic. This is all because I’m bolstered by the talented Alitam team. I’m fired up about the future – not just for me, but for us all. Together we are going to make an incalculable difference that will be noted for generations to come.”