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‘Difficult decision’: Contractor sells pharmacies to grow online business

Frosts Pharmacy group owner Stuart Gale recently made the “difficult decision” to sell his two Oxfordshire-based branches and focus on his online business, he has revealed to C+D.

Frosts Pharmacy group originally consisted of three branches in Oxfordshire, as well as an online pharmacy business.

A drop in income from services and a doubling of medicines deliveries fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic compelled Mr Gale to permanently close one of the three pharmacies he owned in August 2020.

Last week – just over two years after shuttering the Northway Pharmacy branch – Mr Gale revealed he had made the “difficult decision” to sell his two remaining branches to Well Pharmacy

His business is “now…purely operating as Oxford Online Pharmacy”, he told C+D.

Read more: The Big Debate #9: Do online outlets pose a threat to community pharmacy’s reputation?

“I felt it was the best thing for the two shops to be part of a bigger group that is focussed on and can invest in community pharmacy,” Mr Gale explained of his decision.

The sale of the branches in Banbury and Marston will also leave his business with “more time to grow the online part of the business”, he said.


Pandemic fed online business growth


Mr Gale told C+D he felt “it was the right time to focus on the online business”.

The online segment first saw significant growth through the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

But business “has continued to grow since lockdown has eased”, Mr Gale shared.

As for what’s next, he said the pharmacy “will continue to invest in being an outstanding online pharmacy and look to introduce more services”.

Mr Gale did not reveal what services he would be launching through Oxford Online Pharmacy and by when, simply stating the pharmacy would “expand on what we can safely do remotely”.


Pharmacists not used to full potential


Mr Gale told C+D he felt “things have got increasingly difficult for community pharmacy over the last six years or so”.

Read more: Sector in crisis: Thousands of pharmacies at risk of closure as inflation bites

“It needs to change” for the “amazing professionals” within the sector to be made better use of, he stated.

“I have been a pharmacist for 30 years this year and I still feel that pharmacists have so much to offer, but they are still not used to their full potential,” he added.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has recently asked two health think-tanks to develop a report with the aim to demonstrate the “vital and potentially growing role” of community pharmacy in primary care and how the sector can deliver value for money and better patient outcomes.


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