LloydsPharmacy selling significant number of UK branches
By Neil Trainis and Arthur Walsh
Exclusive: LloydsPharmacy, the second largest pharmacy chain in the UK, is selling a significant number of branches across Scotland, England and Wales in a highly confidential process, Pharmacy Network News has learned.
PNN has seen emails from Hutchings Consultants, a company that specialises in pharmacy sales and valuations, informing prospective buyers of a “divestment campaign by a multiple operator to include a significant number of new branches.” It is believed LloydsPharmacy has employed other pharmacy sales agents to work on its behalf.
The branches are being sold under at least three projects; Project Sapphire, Project Mulberry and Project Clover. Under Project Sapphire, branches have been put up for sale in parts of Scotland including Ayrshire & Arran, England Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Forth Valley, Grampian, Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Highlands, Lanarkshire, Lothian and Tayside.
Under Project Clover, branches are for sale across England, including Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, East London, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, north Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Staffordshire, Somerset, east and west Sussex, Tyne and Wear, Wiltshire and north Yorkshire.
Under Project Mulberry, branches in Northumberland, County Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire, Somerset, Staffordshire and Tyne & Wear are believed to be up for sale.
Meanwhile in Wales, branches have been put up for sale in Pembrokeshire, Glamorgan (Mid & Vale), Blaenau Gwent and Dyfed.
Aurelius, the owner of LloydsPharmacy, did not say if it intends to sell all of its LloydsPharmacy branches in the UK or the homecare and wholesale parts of the business. Aurelius also refused to comment on reports in recent days that LloydsPharmacy has decided to stop providing pharmacy services to the Scottish prison service.
A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy said it “regularly reviews its pharmacy estate to ensure it is operating sustainably and any decision to sell stores is taken in the interests of patients, colleagues and the business.”
They added: “At all times, patient safety remains our top priority ensuring that our customers and patients are always able to access vital prescriptions, health advice, products and services.”
Independents across the UK could make offers for the LloydsPharmacy branches. However, the National Pharmacy Association told Independent Community Pharmacist it has not been involved “in any of these projects” nor has it encouraged its members to buy the branches.
News of widespread sales across the UK comes just weeks after LloydsPharmacy ended its relationship with Sainsbury's, a move that could see more than 220 pharmacies close.