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Online chemist branches out into babycare

Soma launched the start-up with his wife Krishna, a qualified pharmacist, in November 2007. The site featured everything from deodorant to antihistamines. But now, Soma is spreading the net even wider.

After the recent birth of Soma’s third son, Aryaan, the entrepreneur decided to launch a baby page on the website.

“I went to Mothercare and could not believe how much they were charging for essential every day items needed for newly-born babies,” he says. “So I decided to see how much I could offer the same items for and managed to get them much cheaper.”

The revamped site went live earlier this month. Soma anticipates that this new range of products will increase revenue by £500,000 this year, representing some 10 per cent of sales in the future.

But here’s an interesting fact. While Soma has negotiated rock bottom prices for most of his baby products, he’s drawn a blank with nappies.

“All the main nappy suppliers are blocking my attempts to stock their lines because I want to offer them at discounted prices,” he says. “It seems sad that the consumer misses out. I am determined to find a supplier who will not be so greedy as to stop me giving the consumer a better deal.”

But Soma’s not one to back down in the face of adversity. Especially after his latest clutch of good news! Chemist Direct has just been ranked the UK’s leading online chemist by Hitwise.

Despite being only eight months old, the £3m-turnover online retailer currently holds a 8.66 per cent market share, more than two per cent higher than second-placed Lloyds.

As for how the start-up is faring against pharmacy giant Boots, we’re in the dark. Hitwise classifies the brand as a general retailer, rather than a chemist.

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