From Pfizer to My Chemist – Sarath Jayasekera, MD of My Chemist International (Pvt) Ltd

Having begun his career at Pfizer Ltd. in 1985 as a Marketing Representative, Sarath Jayasekera is now operating his own business, My Chemist International (Pvt) Ltd. with two of its subsidiaries. He is a dreamer with absolute passion for what he does, and he has a very optimistic view of life that has helped him to become who he is today.

“From Pfizer, I moved to Sterling Winthrop, where I was exposed to a revolutionary brand revamping project ‘Panadol’. This exposure instilled a liking in me towards Consumer Marketing, which encouraged me to move to New Zealand Milk Lanka (now Fonterra Brands) as a Brand Manager. There, I was able to learn FMCG Marketing and I was given the opportunity to launch ‘Anlene High Calcium Milk Powder’ in Sri Lanka. My stint at New Zealand Milk certainly helped me discover my entrepreneurial skills and it made me fearless in the face of business risks. The support I have received from my colleagues and the management is noteworthy. Thereafter, I changed industries completely moving to Ceylinco Group as Senior Brand Manager. 

“In the year 2000 I realised my dream as Co-founder of My Chemist (Pvt) Ltd, a retail pharmacy outlet which soon became an established pharmacy chain with the support of leading skin care specialists in the country. Moved on to incorporating My Chemist International (Pvt) Ltd in 2005 expanding the scope towards importing specialised Health supplements & skincare brands focusing on Health & Beauty sectors. My Chemist International (Pvt) Ltd is currently established as the exclusive agent for a few key International brands including Good Health, Dermacolor, FixDerma and Basicare”.

“The journey thus far has been challenging yet enjoyable. I was able to acquire the importing and distribution arms of My Chemist Group in November 2019 which is a momentous milestone in my career.” Sarath added.

Speaking about the Beauty and Personal Care industry and how the latest international personal care trends have been reflected in Sri Lanka, Sarath stated, “In comparison with the world, Sri Lanka has shown far less market penetration in terms of personal, hair and beauty products. It is now changing. The Sri Lankan consumer is also becoming more informed on this issue, making the industry relatively resilient.

“I believe that the priority in personal, hair and beauty care is to move towards high quality natural-chemical free products, which is something that our new Beauty & Body Care Pvt Ltd focuses on.”

Moreover, he said that due to the work from home concept of most companies, many now have time to focus more on self-wellbeing and self-love, encouraging them to invest in personal care and beauty.

The industry expert further stated that Cosmeceuticals is a major development in the industry. Cosmeceuticals are specialised products with cosmetic and therapeutic effects and are topical applications used for various skin conditions such as dry skin, oily skin and acne, scars, blemishes and wrinkles, etc.

“This new trend is increasing consumer demand for specialised products. Gone are the days when consumers were satisfied with multifunctional mass market products. For this reason, we ensure that we offer our consumers a wide range of specialised products with specialised functionalities.

“Another emerging trend is consumer preference for online shopping, which is not entirely new but has shown a significant increase in the market. The current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic encourages online purchases. To support this trend, we have set up our online shop at www.beautynbody.lk.”

Furthermore, Sarath stated that there are approximately 120 local manufacturers in Sri Lanka and that they must make an effort to invest in more knowledge gathering supported by research and development in order to keep up with international trends and standards without making vague claims about products.

“This is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why high-end consumers tend to opt for international brands as opposed to local brands if given the choice. This is the perception we need to change.”

When questioned about the standards of ensuring and maintaining product quality, the industry expert mentioned that there are standards and procedures set by relevant authorities which have to be maintained due to the sensitive nature of these products.

“In my opinion, there is always more that can be done to ensure that the best quality and safe products are provided to the consumer.”

“In our group of companies, we treat product quality with paramount importance and this is a key differentiator which has helped us gain the consumer’s trust throughout our years of business. It is the reason why “product quality” is embedded in our value system.”

On a final note, the Managing Director divulged that the company is exploring the potential for developing its own skin care brand to be sold in both local and foreign markets.

“At the moment, we are focusing on building our existing brands in the local market, while at the same time seeking to attract more specialised product lines to identified niche markets.”

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