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Demand for Scottish pharmacies remains high in 2020, despite COVID-19

Demand for Scottish pharmacies remained high during the first three quarters of 2020, as COVID-19 showed their vital role in the community, Hutchings Consultants has said.

The broker reported interest from “a notable number of new and first-time buyers” but also group owners who are looking at expanding their portfolio of pharmacies, Hutchings Consultants said in a Scottish pharmacy market update published this earlier this month (October 7).

Hutchings told C+D today (October 23) that it registered 70% more enquires from first-time buyers this year compared with the same period last year, while the remaining 29% of enquiries came from group owners, investors and existing pharmacy owners.

There is a particular appetite for pharmacies located within health centres and in “the larger cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh”, according to the broker.

The banks involved in lending to the sector are also positive about the future of pharmacies in Scotland, it said in the report.

Future for Scottish pharmacies

Pharmacies have demonstrated how important they are to local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchings said.

“The public is depending on the sector more than ever, as it delivers vital healthcare services at a time when accessing your GP on a face to face basis has become, in many cases, much more difficult for patients, particularly those considered high risk,” according to the report.

Demand for Scottish pharmacies is expected to remain high in the future, according to the broker, which attributed the popularity of the sector partly to the Scottish government’s funding commitments. Recent such commitments include a one-off £250 payment to pharmacies delivering this year’s flu vaccination service.

Goodwill prices – incorporating brand value and other intangible company assets – remain “at impressive levels compared with the rest of the UK”, the broker said.

The number of pharmacies in Scotland has remained stable over the past six years and the broker registered a total of 1,265 branches in 2020, up by eight since 2014.

In June, Hutchings Consultants and Christie & Co told C+D that the pharmacy sales market had remained strong despite COVID-19, with Hutchings completing 10 pharmacy sales between March 23 and May 18 and seeing offers on 48 pharmacies it was selling.

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