Female entrepreneurship image

A lot of work and vision. These are the words that best describe the success that Anca Vlad has achieved in entrepreneurship. As an economist, her first business was in the marketing field. Today, the Fildas-Catena group is the leader in pharmaceutical retail, and Anca Vlad has become a role model for businesswomen across Romania.

She discovered her passion for economics in high school. In 11th grade, her teacher suggested that she study the subject at university. So, in 1976, she goes to the Academy for Economic Studies – the International Economic Relations section. She started to build her career while she was still a student. Since she spoke very good English, she also worked as a guide and translator. In 1980, thanks to the results she obtained in her exams, she is assigned to Bucharest, at a company in the wood industry – today’s Silvarom. The professional experience she acquired over the seven years of working in the furniture industry, where she climbed to the role of export coordinator, would help Anca Vlad take her next steps in her entrepreneurial activity. In 1987, she had the opportunity to work in the Romanian Chamber of Commerce, as a country manager for British giant SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals. This opportunity led her to international marketing and helped her gain perspective. So, after the appearance of Decree 54, the first legislative act that allowed the establishment of private companies, Anca Vlad decided to leave the public sector. She first opened a marketing office that would provide consulting services, in May 1990, and one year later she laid the foundation for Fildas, a company that started out with just seven employees and responded to the needs of the first private pharmacies. Eight years later, Anca Vlad decided to expand her business to pharmaceutical retail, by opening Catena pharmacies. The network currently has over 720 units, and the number of employees has grown exponentially every year, now exceeding 5,000.

ln order to maintain the leading position in pharmaceutical retail, the group makes constant investments in expanding its pharmacy chain. The budget allocated last year for the expansion was over EUR 10 million. Besides the success of Catena, the pharma group also operates the largest specialised warehouse network in the country through Fildas Trading, ensuring national coverage through two central warehouses located in Bucharest (Mogosoaia) and Pitesti, 12 regional logistics centres and a call centre. As the leading distributor of medical drugs, food supplements, technical-medical and cosmetic products, Fildas Trading has over 1,000 employees and a transport fleet that includes 120 average-sized vehicles and 12 heavy duty trucks. Fildas’s client portfolio includes over 3,000 pharmacies and 300 hospitals, where the company delivers more than 10,000 types of medical drugs, food supplements and cosmetic products. Fildas also offers logistics and warehousing services for international medical drugs manufacturers.

The Fildas-Catena group has a major contribution to cultural or social responsibility projects. The founder’s involvement in the country’s social and cultural life has led to the creation of the Fildas Art foundation, which supports art through its Senso Gallery project. The gallery exhibits creations by contemporary Romanian artists, and constantly promotes art both through its frequent openings as well as through the permanent exhibitions it hosts. The Fildas-Catena group is also dedicated to supporting social and charity programmes, being actively involved in several foundations and their actions: Save the Children Romania, OvidiuRO, Light into Europe, the Renasterea Foundation and HOSPICE Casa Sperantei. Furthermore, the Catena pharmacy network is constantly carrying out campaigns to inform the public about prevention and having a healthy lifestyle. Four years ago, the Catena Racing Team was created, as the largest multi-sports club of a Romanian company, which includes employees and collaborators of Catena, Fildas and Tonica Group, from Bucharest and other parts of the country, all of whom are passionate about sports and who have already received awards at the various competitions in which they have taken part.

At the same time, Fildas-Catena gives graduates the chance to work in the group through the Catena School project, which helps the development of new team members.

Article published in the entrepreneurs catalog edited by Business Review