South London pharmacists Kehinde and Bolaji Oladuji

Serving a large swathe of the Lambeth community are husband and wife team Kehinde and Bolaji. Through their six pharmacies they have become household names, proudly offering superlative service and support for all their customers. “Kehinde and Bolaji ensure every customer is welcomed with a meticulous level of care,” says Alitam founder Feisal Nahaboo. “They are deeply rooted in their diverse communities, and totally committed to the efficiency and innovation which Alitam will bring to their pharmacy business. They both contribute enticing ideas, born out of many years’ pharmacy experience. We’re delighted they are part of this vital movement.”

Back to back support

Kehinde and Bolaji both qualified in Nigeria then, after arrival in the UK in the early 1990s, they achieved their UK pharmacy qualifications and worked for several of the large multiples. Kehinde takes up the story, “Then in 1999 we acquired our first pharmacy in Brixton SW9, near the popular Oval cricket ground, and went on to acquire five further stores in strategic locations throughout the Lambeth area. I work as the Superintendent Pharmacist, while Bolaji is the pharmacist prescriber, professional service director for the group and PCN lead of the Fiveways Primary Care Network.”

“We provide back-to-back support for each other,” smiles Bolaji. “And I think this lies behind a lot of our success. We can pick up where the other left off, we dovetail nicely. So we can always offer customers a great deal of care.”

Going above and beyond

From the beginning, the focus was on providing services hitherto unavailable in the area. “From day one we’ve been offering a free delivery service and also a personal shopping service for those patients who are housebound or have restricted mobility,” explains Kehinde. “We also have a variety of clinical offerings to meet many needs, including the smoking cessation service, emergency contraception, flu vaccinations, a Travel Clinic, supervised methadone consumption and now Covid-19 testing. A very popular service is ear piercing, as customers know they can trust us completely.”

He continues, “All of our 25 staff have been trained to get to know customers, calling them by their first name. They go above and beyond, meaning we have excellent relationships with our loyal clientele. We ensure no-one ever runs out of a medicine they need, and if collecting the prescription is an issue, we’ll take care of delivery. There’s no problem.”

The pandemic was a challenge met magnificently by all the staff, and the Oladujis couldn’t be prouder. “We literally doubled our hours overnight,” explains Bolaji. “We had so many people coming to us, as they couldn’t access GP services. But we coped really well, we took it as proof of the trust our community has in us. We could provide that confidential, professional advice they so badly needed, and our familiar faces offered reassurance.”

The orbit of Alitam

“Alitam has come at the perfect time for us,” says Bolaji. “If you don’t improve you die. There is so much expertise in this group, so many bright minds in our orbit, we know we can achieve all we need to take the business forward – and more.”

Kehinde agrees, “Technological advances are my big passion, specifically dispensing robots which will free up a huge amount of our pharmacists’ time. With Alitam behind us, and all the experience and advice we can draw on, we’re in a brilliant position to implement this now. There are many more ideas we have, and there’s lots of discussions happening as we speak. The momentum is enormous.”

Bolaji adds, “As soon as we saw Feisal we were convinced this was the way forward. Now we’ll be able to compete with the big pharmacy groups in the UK, but with an added personal touch as our unique advantage. We can bring cost savings to our community through Alitam branded products; and address the needs of our community more with initiatives to involve them in their healthcare provision. It’s a grassroots movement, based on our local standing and professional expertise. We’re honoured and proud to be a part of it.”