Milan, 30 june 2023
The goal is ambitious: to become a global leader in pharmaceutical distribution by developing an increasingly capillary, high-performance and comprehensive network There are two strategic levers to achieve this: digitalisation and sustainability. On this basis, Phse, a small multinational with an all-Italian footprint (its headquarters are in Lodi), is aiming to build its growth also at an international level. The numbers are already significant: 566 employees and 29 branches worldwide, in 2022 it has increased its revenues by 67%. And in 2023 there will be at least two acquisitions in addition to the opening of a new branch in Spain.
Leading the company is Eddy De Vita Executive Chairman of Phse “We are proud to be a cutting-edge Italian company specialized in the transportation of healthcare products worldwide,” he explains. “We operate in Italy with five business units and have 14 wholly-owned distribution platforms managed by our group. The same applies to our employees and vehicles. It’s our unique feature that guarantees a high level of service quality, consistency, and reliability. We like to think of ourselves as a small multinational corporation with advanced in-house quality and IT expertise, specializing and excelling in this industry that invests heavily in innovation. Our goal for 2023 is to achieve a turnover of 100 million euros.”
Specialising in temperature-controlled transport of pharmaceuticals, biotech, clinical trials and biological samples serving the hospital channel, with express delivery times within 24/48 hours throughout Italy and Europe, Phse has grown at an average annual rate of around 45% in recent years.
Booming in 2022, with consolidated revenues of EUR 75 million. This result is mainly due to the performance of the ‘global forwarding’ business unit, which is dedicated to the import/export movement of high value-added drugs to and from all over the world.
This objective was also achieved with the consolidation of all other activities (including the transport of radiopharmaceuticals started in 2021) and the 4 acquisitions made, the most recent in Brazil, which accelerated the Group’s growth internationally.
In more detail, last year alone, the company handled over 625 thousand shipments (temperature 2-8 degrees), equal to over 1.3 million packages; over 228 thousand shipments were made (temperature 15-25 degrees), equal to over 651 thousand packages. The average delivery time was within 24-48 hours for 96% of the shipments.
In spite of the particularly complex and challenging landscape experienced in 2022, characterised by widespread increases in the prices of raw materials and other inputs, the company has embarked on an investment plan for 2023 to accelerate the strengthening of the supply chain and give a further boost to innovation.
“By the summer we will inaugurate a new Pharma Hub in Bologna. Completely air-conditioned, it will represent a reference pole for last-mile distribution to hospitals, pharmacies and laboratories in Emilia Romagna, as well as making the national distribution process more efficient. Furthermore, by the end of the year, we plan to open another platform in Campania, which will replace the current branch, with a tenfold increase in space,” says De Vita.
The Bologna hub
Equipped with the best technology, the Hub will receive the traffic picked up by the network hubs and sort it for local distribution and for the re-routing along the Adriatic ridge of consignments picked up in Northern Italy for the regions of Marche, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia. The Bologna Transit Point will thus bring more efficiency to the national distribution process with a reduction of transits on the network and faster delivery times.
The new 15/25°C Hospital Network Service
And that’s not all, because in the strategic design of having an increasingly capillary distribution network, from April 2023 Phse has introduced the new Hospital +15/25°C service, which has entailed the expansion of its fleet with the entry of more than 100 new refrigerated vehicles, of the latest generation with low environmental impact and with transport capacities higher than the current ones. “Connected to the opening of the Bologna branch, we have launched this new service that will allow us to serve more and more hospitals, which for us represent the most significant channel, with optimised transport solutions +2/8°C and +15/25°C,” De Vita emphasises.
Eyes on digital
Phse’s investments will not be limited to physical assets, however: particular attention is being paid to digitisation. ‘”We strongly believe in innovation, which we support with significant investments,’ De Vita emphasises” In this regard, Phse will be the first player in Italy to implement Rfid technology on a national scale. “This is a technology we are betting on with conviction,’ says De Vita. ‘Our goal is to apply the Rfid system on every single parcel. An important challenge, but one that we are convinced we can win”.
The use of RFID technology
In this perspective of capillary control of every single passage that the drug makes through the distribution network, Phse has matured the need to offer its interlocutors, ranging from the pharmaceutical agent to the hospital pharmacy up to the patient, the certainty of passage detection, i.e. the assurance that each individual package is in the correct area and at the correct temperature.
Specifically, the company decided to apply RFID tags to parcels, borrowing what is already happening in the transport and storage of other mercelogical sectors such as retail, and demonstrating that the adoption of this technology is also possible in the healthcare to pharma supply chain. The advantages are obvious: from the capillary tracking of every single parcel, to the speed and precision of controls; passing through the greater sustainability in transport, to the operational advantages in the execution of warehouse and transit operations.
Digital innovation, but not only. Because Phse’s growth strategy also passes through sustainability activities, with a keen eye on environmental impact. De Vita points out: ‘As a logistics company, we are sensitive to the issue of environmental sustainability: we have been drawing up ESG balance sheets for two years. And the latest generation of vehicles we have recently purchased also guarantee a very strong reduction in CO2.
Also increasing Phse’s structure will be acquisition operations on the one hand and the opening of new branches on the other. “We are in the process of closing at least two acquisitions,” says De Vita, “one in Italy, in the global forwarding, special service area, which will be completed in a few weeks. The other acquisitions will take place in the areas of Benelux, Germany, and the United States. In addition, Phse decided to land in Spain last June with the opening of a new branch. “We identified the right managers to start a new company. The first warehouse has been opened in Madrid, but it is not excluded that we will also be present in Barcelona soon. In Spain we already move a lot of shipments on behalf of many of our customers in the country who ask us to collaborate, not only for clinical trial activities but also for distribution in hospitals’.