World e-Com Blog|EN

Beauty and health converge: DOUGLAS enters the online pharmacy market

For Europe's leading premium beauty platform, the move is another step in a systematic digitalization strategy. Apotheke B.V., based in Heerlen (Netherlands), is among the fastest-growing suppliers in the online pharmacy business, with Germany and China currently the main markets. The company, which has about 200 employees, recorded double-digit million in sales in fiscal year 2021. With this acquisition, DOUGLAS reinforces two pillars of its growth strategy: the consistent digitalization of its business model and the expansion of the DOUGLAS Group's offering with health products.

"The beauty and health markets are increasingly converging, as we can clearly see from the desires of our customers," says DOUGLAS Group CEO Tina Muller. "We recognized this trend early on and began to continually expand our product portfolio by adding more and more health products. We will continue to strengthen our leading role as a beauty and health platform in this segment." With the upcoming introduction of electronic prescriptions in Germany, the online pharmacy business is expected to grow tremendously. Together with Disapo, we will systematically take advantage of growth opportunities in the online health market."

DOUGLAS will connect Disapo to its own digital platform, thereby giving millions of DOUGLAS customers access to the online pharmacy. The launch is scheduled for the first half of the year, initially in Germany with over-the-counter drugs to be offered, sold and delivered independently through Disapo's partner on the DOUGLAS marketplace. The ability to order prescription drugs will be further enhanced when so-called e-prescriptions are introduced in Germany during the year.

"By offering over-the-counter drugs and other pharmacy products through Disapo, our marketplace will instantly reach millions of customers in Germany alone. In this way, we are systematically evolving into a platform for health and beauty," says Vanessa Stützle, DOUGLAS Group's digital technology director. "We plan to gradually expand the online pharmacy offering in our main European countries, thereby entering a market that will exceed 160 billion euros in sales in 2020."

DOUGLAS has already signed a purchase agreement with Disapo founder and CEO Sebastian Kraus. The acquisition remains subject to antitrust approval; the deal is expected to close during the spring. Sebastian Kraus will remain CEO of Apotheke B.V. and will bring his expertise in online retailing of pharmaceuticals and other pharmacy products to the partnership with DOUGLAS. "Over the past few years, we've put a lot of effort and energy into making Disapo a high-performing online pharmacy," Kraus says. "Now we're joining forces with DOUGLAS to unlock outstanding new growth prospects. I look forward to working with the DOUGLAS management team."

The sales volume of the German pharmacy market in 2020 is estimated at around 60 billion euros; in the main DOUGLAS countries - France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands - the volume was last estimated at more than 100 billion euros. In Germany, online retailing accounted for about five percent of the total market in 2020.

|Our original article is available here