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Bank's 'appetite' to fund pharmacies 'strong' despite cuts

High street bank Santander will continue to invest in pharmacies, despite the funding cuts across England, it has told C+D.

"The bank's appetite remains strong for good quality businesses" where management have "proven" themselves "in operating a retail pharmacy, including stock purchasing", according to a relationship director at Santander, Mark Lawson.

Mr Lawson – who oversaw Santander's £2.3 million investment in online pharmacy group Pharmadose, which led to the company buying two high street pharmacies last week – said the bank continues to "work closely with professionals in the sector".

"The bank can identify relatively closely what the effect of the [funding] cuts to each individual pharmacy will mean to the bottom-line profit," he told C+D on Tuesday (June 20).

Mr Lawson acknowledged this is a "difficult period for pharmacy", but said the impact of the cuts could be "negated" by "other income sources", such as the quality payments scheme and medicines use reviews.

The bank had been "impressed by the strength and experience of the management team" at Pharmadose, because they work "closely with their professional advisers" to "grow their business in a sustainable way", he said.

Pharmacies interested in receiving a loan should "engage with the bank as early as possible", as understanding the available support can help with the buying process, he added.

If there is "the right strategy" then "there would be no reason for Santander not to support further funding to Pharmadose or similar businesses".

Last month, Scott Hayton, director of brokers Hutchings Consultants, said the buying and selling of pharmacies had not been impacted by the funding cuts in England so far.

Have the funding cuts impacted your plans to buy or sell a pharmacy?

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