Greece Aims for Pharma Hub Status

GREECE is positioning itself as a key regional hub for the burgeoning pharma market And, as is the way with niche service-intensive markets, Independent forwarders are leading the way in both Innovation and strategy. One such forwarder that has its eye on this expanding market is Piraeus-based Marinair and it has identified the key markets that will help it meet its growth targets. Managing Director, Pavlos Poutos, explains that although the company was formed relatively recently in 2007, it has made good gains in niche markets. “We started with airfreight and this remains our core business, although we do also offer ocean logistics services. We quickly realised that our experience and expertise was perfectly aligned with time-critical, pharmaceutical and perishable products and this is our primary focus.”

With a deep knowledge of the regulations and needs of specialty products, Poutos says that the first few years, with Greece entering a deep recession, were difficult. “I believed in the opportunity. The multinational forwarders are not so good with small and medium-sized shippers that demand high service  quality. This makes space for smaller, more flexible customer-oriented companies.” Poutos says the crisis actually proved to be a catalyst for pharma exports from Greece, with new production facilities for generic drugs springing up rapidly. “The situation in Greece meant that it was cheap for manufacturers to establish production here.

Athens became a centre for generic drug production and this is then air or road freighted around Europe and further afield. Although much of our other work is reliant on imports and 3PL activities from Asia, the US and parts of Europe into Greece, there are increasing opportunities in the pharma sector for export driven growth.” The strength of its pharma business prompted Marinair to open up offices in India. “This was not originally a target market for us but the pharma business made it very attractive. India is now positioned to become the second biggest market in pharma traffic after China and we can go after this business.” With offices in Mumbai, Chennai and Tirupur, Marinair is perfectly placed to use its experience to expand its reach in this key market. Back in Greece, Poutos says that base materials and ingredients for the generic pharma production are leading to increasing imports. “I believe that the market is being driven to cheaper generic products and producers and there is great potential. We also anticipate a small but growing potential of the exports moving to ocean freight and Piraeus can act as an ideal hub for this new demand.”

Overall, despite the horrendous market conditions Greece has suffered, Poutos is very upbeat about the future. “With the investments by Cosco, Piraeus is set to become a major player in the supply chain of Europe and we hope as a quality logistics provider we can benefit from this boom. Next month we will open a Hong Kong office to meet the needs of our European clients and this is all driven by the potential of the sea port.

Published in voice of Independent Digital Editionissue 29 – April 2014

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