MDS gets boost from consumer brands

Medical Disposables & Supplies Limited, MDS, spun to profit of $25 million in the June quarter, from a loss of $7 million in the comparative period last year, amid continued expansion of its consumer products distribution portfolio and pharmaceutical division.

CEO Kurt Boothe says the profit in the first quarter was driven by an increase in sales, which was the result of increased consumer demand for pharmaceutical and medical disposable items.

MDS operates three divisions: consumer goods, pharmaceutical, and medical supplies. The company has boosted its sales force in line with the expansion.

“The truth is that there were big efforts right across the three divisions. We have been working on specialised divisional focus, where they have their own initiatives aimed at yielding results from competitive advantage,” Boothe said.

He adds that the strengthening of the consumer division positively impacted sales, which reflects growth in a number of product areas brought to the market within the last 15 months.

MDS’ consumer goods, which was added as a business division in 2017, started with the distribution of GlaxoSmithKline consumer products and was later expanded to include categories such as confectionery and snacks, beauty and homecare.

The consumer division has about 14 brands in its portfolio, according to Boothe, with Disiclin cleaning fluids, Simply flavourings, Benjamins’ cosmetics, True & Natural and Naked Care speciality soaps, and Blue Maxx laundry soap being the most recent additions, he said. MDS recently advised the market that it had entered into distribution arrangements with Miracle Corporation for distribution of the True & Natural and Naked Care soaps, and with ICD Group for the Simply and Benjamins lines.

Upgraded its system

Boothe says while building the consumer portfolio and strengthening other divisions, MDS upgraded its IT system to take care of inventory, pricing, forecasting, logistics and enterprise analytics.

“We were growing at a rate that was fast outpacing our support systems capacity. We could survive being stretched, but disastrous consequences threatened,” said Boothe, adding that the company made the call to invest for the future, notwithstanding the pandemic-driven uncertainties facing businesses.

“For us, we saw this as an investment, because what we’re seeing now in the numbers is true testament to the wisdom of the moves. What seemed like us stepping back was us reversing and settling into our starting blocks to blast forward,” he said.

“Coming out of eight months in the red last year and having a positive trend for the first quarter, there is nothing that can dim our optimism for the coming months,” Boothe said.

The company expects uncertainties to persist, he added, but would continue to seek out opportunities.

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