Rowlands to sell 70 pharmacies
Rowlands Pharmacy, the UK's fourth largest multiple, has put 70 of its pharmacies up for sale.
Christie and Co, who are brokering a deal to sell 69 pharmacies in England and one in Wales, said the pharmacy chain was pushing ahead with plans to invest "significantly in automation through new central dispensing models."
Rowlands' managing director Kenny Black said the move was designed to establish the pharmacy chain's pharmacies as "local healthcare hubs."
"We are committed to investing in the future and changing our dispensing processes in order to deliver sustainable, profitable growth for the business, enable colleagues to spend more time with patients and reinforce the role of Rowlands pharmacies as local health care hubs," he said.
"As a result, we need to focus our investment on a slightly smaller Rowlands pharmacy network than we have today.
“We are confident the branches we are divesting have the potential for future growth to meet emerging healthcare needs and will create an exciting opportunity for first-time buyers and existing independent contractors to develop and expand the range of services offered on a more localised basis. Our branch colleagues will be fully informed and supported throughout this process.”
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: "We know that the NHS and government are looking to community pharmacies to offer more patient-focused services to support the delivery of their recently published vision for the delivery of primary healthcare.
"This will require transformative changes for the sector, including a shift away from the current focus on dispensing volumes, changes to working practices and an increased focus on efficiencies, automation and technology to free up community pharmacists’ time to offer more clinical services.
"It will not mean that more money is available for doing the same things that we have always done. Given the urgent need for these significant changes in practice, which must be supported by a multi-year funding settlement, it is no surprise that some of the larger pharmacy businesses are already reviewing their networks carefully.
"Rowlands Pharmacy’s decision to reduce the size of its pharmacy network almost certainly reflects these upcoming changes, and it may also be a symptom of the very difficult financial situation that so many community pharmacies currently find themselves in.
"In this environment our advice to anybody considering purchasing a new pharmacy is to seek specialist professional financial advice first. Like all pharmacy businesses, potential buyers should be thinking carefully about what changes their pharmacies are likely to need to make to fit into and remain profitable in the future models for the sector.”