Dubai: The Abu Dhabi based medical services firm Response Plus Holding is going on a recruitment drive for doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers as it scales up in Saudi Arabia. It will also simultaneously expand into India, through an alliance with a major digital pharmacy operator there.
In Saudi Arabia, the target is to raise its staff strength to more than 500 in the next two years. “We will repeat a strategy that has worked well for us in the UAE - win. High-profile contracts for on-site medical services from the Kingdom’s oil and gas sector,” said Louis Major Tom, CEO at Response Plus, in which Abu Dhabi corporate heavyweight Alpha Dhabi has a 46 per cent stake and VPS Healthcare being the other other major investor. (The stock listed on Abu Dhabi stock market recently and has had an extremely favourable response from investors.) “We are currently sub-contracted by Johns Hopkins, which is the healthcare services provider to the Saudi oil company Aramco. We hope to further expand our interests in this space.”
The UAE company, which also has a partnership arrangement with Red Crescent, is also linking up possible opportunities to be the go-provider as Saudi Arabia expands the scope of its tourism and hospitality sectors. That means more projects and the need for medical services on-site.
“This is why we will need to expand our Saudi headcount appreciably - from the 60 staffers we have there now,” said Tom. (In the UAE, the company’s staff headcount is 1,600.) A key partner In the UAE, Response Plus is the partner of choice for all ADNOC’s onsite medical needs, including those of its subsidiaries. Response Plus provides emergency services, including ambulance fleets and helicopters. The company has reported solid financials in the year-to-date, and which gives it the platform to expand into new markets. (It is also the on-site service provider for the ongoing T20 Cricket World Cup matches in the UAE.) For both India and Saudi Arabia, response Plus is investing Dh35 million apiece. In the planned India rollout, it has invested in PharmEasy, an online medical store operator. Response Plus has invested $10 million in a pre-IPO funding in the entity, and this will be the platform through which it will add services such as emergency hospital-to-hospital or home-to-hospital ambulance services.
Not easy to break into
Because of its sheer size and logistics, India will not be an easy market to scale up immediately. Response Plus will take a measured approach, initially focussing on South Indian states such as Kerala.
“Our biggest advantage getting in is that emergency services are not up to international standards in India,” the CEO said. “This is what we can change - doing it together with PharmEasy (part of API Holdings) makes it easier.” (PharmEasy is heading for a January IPO, and with a $5 billion valuation, according to Tom.) “. “The need for instant and quality medical response can only keep growing,” he added.