Introducing pharmacist Iwona Machaczka and business partner Alan Costello.

Combining the clinical pharmacy skills of Iwona Machaczka and the business brain of Alan Costello has paid great dividends for this formidable duo. Their Dublin store, Strand Pharmacy, was built from scratch into the award winning, busy pharmacy relied upon by so many in the city today. And now their sights are set on exponential expansion, thanks to the futuristic vision and strategic might of Alitam.

A fixture among change

Iwona takes up the story, “I graduated as a Master of Pharmaceutical Science in Poland in 1998, and proceeded to work as a pharmacist in Poland, and then upon settling in Ireland. I was introduced to Alan Costello in 2010 and we decided to open our pharmacy in the middle of the financial crisis.” Iwona grins, “Why not? We opened in October 2011 and in a short time have become a fixture in our ever-changing community in the inner city. We’ve created a place where all regulars are greeted by their name, we know their kids and their family stories – not only their medical needs.” It’s a testament to Iwona’s ethic of community focus, warm personality and significant clinical skills, that people still visit long after they’ve moved out of the area. “I strive to offer as much as I can to better people’s health,” she explains. “Everything from the latest tests such as Vitamin D checks, the herpes simplex vaccine and, soon, the Covid-19 vaccine down to methadone dispensing and smoking cessation clinics.”

“Iwona always goes the extra mile,” says Alan. “Investing in her was an easy decision to make. The pharmacy has been a phenomenal success. And her work in the Dublin Community Co-operative, helping women to stop smoking, is really inspiring.”

‘This is it’

The advent of Alitam represented another ‘easy decision’ for Alan. “The minute I heard Feisal speak, I knew ‘this is it.’ As if we’d all been waiting for this vision for pharmacy, but hadn’t realised it. Alitam makes enormous business sense, there will be huge growth for us as an individual store and for all members. It allows us to learn from giants on the pharmacy scene like Oonagh O’Hagan and Patrick McCormack. It’s no accident they have legendary status here: they’re already taking pharmacy to the next level with their use of NextGen technology, and catering to the latest wellbeing trends. I immediately forgot any idea of selling up, and am committed to 5-10 years’ collaboration with some of the best minds in pharmacy and business. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

‘Playing to our strengths’

Iwona agrees, “As a pharmacist, I’m now free to play to my strengths. Being a small independent there are limits to what you can do, no matter how great your ambition. Now I can really deliver fantastic service to all my customers. We can embrace automation with robot dispensing, hub and spoke, 24 hour dispensing machines and so on. We can build a brilliant online store and increase our presence online generally. I’m very excited about the online consultation system other members have already employed. And, of course, I’m now well placed to implement even more clinical services. All of this will be immensely rewarding for me, it will change the lives of our customers, and the leap forward in business terms will make Alan a very happy man.”

Feisal Nahaboo, the founder of Alitam, is quick to praise Iwona and Alan. “They’re a fantastic double act,” he smiles. “They bring the best of the pharmacy and business worlds to the table. Their thriving pharmacy is proof that an astute investor in a deeply rooted community service can yield great results. They are a real asset to the Alitam team.”