Vivian Que Azcona

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Vivian Que Azcona is the president of Mercury Drug Corporation, the country’s biggest drugstore chain and operates more than 500 outlets. Forbes listed Azcona as the 15th richest Filipino with a networth of USD445 million. She is the second richest Filipina after Beatrice Campos (8th). She is also the NCR director of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA)

Founding of Mercury Drug

Before the World War Two started, Vivian’s father, Mariano Que started his career working in a Manila drugstore. After the war, when the country was scarce in medications because most of the drug stores were destroyed, sulfa drugs, including sulfathiazole, considered as the cure-all drug, was in-demand. Que recognized the opportunity and started selling medical vials and capsules in marketplaces. When Que had enough money, he bought a bottle of sulfathiazole tablets and sold them in single dosages. This method of selling, known in Filipino culture as “tingi”, became very popular for the poor.

When his business prospered, Que bought a pushcart and sold an assortment of medicines. While other sellers abused the unregulated market by selling fake and expired medications, and sometimes at exorbitant prices; Que developed a reputation of selling fresh and quality medicines, and fair prices.

In 1945, Que already had regular clients and decided to open a store in Bambang. He named it, Mercury Drug after the Roman god and bearer of the caduceus, the symbol of the medical profession. From then until the early 60s, Que innovated on the drugstore’s operations such as introducing drug delivery service and 17-hour business operations.

In 1963, Que opened the second branch of Mercury Drug in a shopping center in Makati upon the invitation of the Ayala Corporation. In 1965, the third branch opened in [Quiapo]], Manila and became its flagship branch. Mercury Drug continued to improve its facilities such as introducing computer-guided temperature controls and biological refrigerators in branches for life-saving medicines.

In the early 70s, Que expanded its product line by purchasing Medical Center Drug Corporation, which sells pharmaceutical supplies, equipments and surgical instruments. This lead Que to established Mercury Group of Companies, Inc.

Over the next decades, the Mercury Group opened Q*10 Convenient store as a competition for 7-11. Additionally, Vivian’s father-in-law Cezar Azcona, father of her husband Edward, sold the hamburger chain Tropial Hut to her father.

To date, there are a total of 700 owned and franchised-store all over the country. And while the company has been hit with criticisms for its allegedly high prices, it nevertheless received accolades and awards of all sorts, including "Retailer of the Year" award in 1964 from the Business Writers Association of the Philippines for its innovative service concepts; "Quezon City’s Best in Business" in 1994 from the Government of Quezon City and the Rotary International District 3780; Consumers Union of the Philippines’ "Hall of Fame" Awardee in 1996 for having been awarded as Most Outstanding Pharmaceutical Retailer for 5 consecutive times; "1996 PMAP Award for Outstanding Employer of the Year" from the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines; "Most Outstanding Drug Store Chain" in 1999 from the New Millennium Excellence Award Committee and the Parangal ng Bayan Awards Foundation jointly with the National Consumers Council in recognition of its products/services beneficial to the consuming public.




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