Litha Pharma is a South African pharmaceutical company that was recently acquired by Acino Pharma based in Basel Switzerland. The group focuses on representing international pharma generic and innovative pharmaceutical brands in South Africa through licensing and distribution agreements.
Litha Pharma was a fast growing pharmaceutical sales and marketing company who had just gone through a major merger where five privately owned companies were being integrated into one newly form pharma division as part of the Litha Healthcare Group (JSE listed).
As in any large merger, culture alignment issues as well as a high staff turnover created a significant challenge in terms of ensuring a successful merger. In addition, the company faced tremendous pressure from International pharma brand owners due to contractual obligations related to any merger and acquisitions.
The legacy leadership with their various management styles had the onerous challenge of not only integrating these companies but also faced the challenge of being deployed to new management roles under a new experienced pharma CEO and also working with each other within specialised functions rather than their historical general management role.
Another challenge that lay ahead was the expectations of shareholders to deliver the financial budget commitments in the first year of integration carrying over the historical successes of these entities while facing people and processes integration which impacted people performance and productivity in the early months post the integration.
The pharma CEO and head of sales brought in our team in collaboration with Clear Fusion to diagnose and assist with the people performance aspects and confidential HR concerns whilst at the same time formulating marketing solutions for the various products within the Litha Pharma bouquet.
As a first directive mechanism, the team applied an early detection tool to understand the inherent working qualities of the 20 member leadership and management team. Once this was complete and a common understanding and working relationship was established, the mechanism was then rolled out then to the 120 sales and marketing personnel.
Further online assessments and surveys were instituted followed by independent one on one coaching sessions with each staff member. This gave good insights into management and personnel on working preference styles and how to work collaboratively with each other for better work outcomes.
Armed with the motto: “There’s nothing like an extraordinary experience that helps leave an imprint in people’s hearts and minds”, a strong foundation was created for facilitating effective group workshops that assisted with internal brand culture alignment, forged a stronger bond, built a better understanding as well as effective WOW (Ways of Working). The group sessions used games, dialogue, interaction and creativity to ensure that the employee experience was unforgettable and created a positive sustainable momentum to work together.
To ensure that management stayed on track we had monthly sessions for the following six months advising on how to apply the foundational knowledge received as well as monitor the progress of the Participlan.
Once the internal challenges were met, the team could now focus on the external marketing front. Out-the-box online marketing strategy was applied on behalf of the various products and, despite pharmaceutical legislative restriction, the team was able to effectively position products thereby creating significant revenue growth.
Staff attrition stabilised with the organisation retaining the legacy leadership and management team for a period of plus 1 year post the integration exercise. Organisational performance improved and majority shareholders equity increased from 55% to over 74% and the company also managed to sign new product pipeline due to the stronger leadership collaborative and market presence of the new entity. The overall merger eventually became 100% owned by Canadian shareholders who eventually became target of American owned pharma.
The USA management team had a strong focus and commitment towards this organisational focus in South Africa that they delisted the group holdings and sold off the medical and vaccines businesses to the original founding partners, allowing better focus with the pharma team and products portfolio. At the time of merger in 2012, expected sales revenues was around the R600 million which grew to the group targeting over a billion rand revenue in 2017, representing a 5 year CAGR of around 10.5%