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Bestway: We'll buy more pharmacies after Co-op

The UK-based food wholesaler group took formal control of the Co-operative Pharmacy’s 771 branches on Monday and chief executive Zameer Choudrey told C+D it “hoped to add more pharmacies to the chain”


Bestway has confirmed plans to expand its pharmacy portfolio following its acquisition of the Co-operative Pharmacy.

The UK-based food wholesaler group took formal control of the Co-operative Pharmacy's 771 branches on Monday and Bestway chief executive Zameer Choudrey said it "hoped to add more pharmacies to the chain" if funding could be secured.

The group's "first priority" would be prescriptions, which would be the focus of 80 per cent of the business, Mr Choudrey said. The remainder would be dedicated to improving patients' wellbeing, he told C+D in an exclusive interview yesterday (October 7).  

"The dispensing of medicine is the most important element of our business. That will take the greatest amount of time, attention and focus, so we will build on it and expand it," he said.

Bestway, which bought the Co-operative pharmacies for £620 million in July, did not have "anything definite in mind" in terms of implementing new technologies in the branches, Mr Choudrey said. However, it would "gladly" introduce automated processes if it could help grow the dispensing side of the business, he added.

Co-operative Pharmacy managing director John Nuttall, who confirmed that he had retained his role following the sale to Bestway, agreed that the group intended to "invest and grow" the business. Bestway was also planning to expand the Co-operative Pharmacy's management team – which will remain in Manchester – while "looking at our portfolio from time to time", he told C+D.

The Co-operative Pharmacy's headquarters are currently located with the Co-operative Group at One Angel Square, Manchester, and Bestway said it had identified a number of possible sites in the city for the pharmacy business to move to.

Bestway, which is the UK's second largest independent wholesale and cash-and-carry operator, was a "good match" for the Co-operative pharmacies because it was "entrepreneurial" and wanted to grow the business while securing jobs, Mr Nuttall added.

With the addition of the Co-operative pharmacies, Bestway will have an annual turnover of approximately £3.6 billion and a global workforce of more than 33,000 people, including more than 11,900 in the UK.  

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