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Rowlands responds to speculation about sale of 79 branches

After rumours emerged that Rowlands was considering selling dozens of branches, the multiple has told C+D that so far “no divestments have been agreed”.

A source who wished to remain anonymous claimed that the multiple was selling 79 of its branches to a sister company. 

But a Rowlands spokesperson told C+D last week (January 12) that the figure was “speculative”, as the multiple does not have plans to sell a specific number of branches.

“Like every other pharmacy chain, we constantly review our network to reflect challenging and changing market conditions,” they said.

“At this time, no divestments have been agreed and the figure of 79 is speculative: all divestments are considered on a case-by-case basis,” the spokesperson added.

 

Pharmacy funding “crippling” network

 

They also cited “the severe impact of funding austerity in England which is crippling the network and reducing patient access at a time when…the government is calling on [pharmacy] to do more” as a reason for Rowlands to “constantly review” its network.

“For Rowlands, funding austerity means we have no choice but to merge and close pharmacies, but we will also acquire pharmacies where that makes commercial sense,” they explained.

Read more: Boots growth ‘offset’ by fixed pharmacy funding deal, parent company says

It is Rowland’s “first priority…to keep colleagues informed regarding future intentions”, the spokesperson added.

They said: “As part of Numark, we are committed to a network of owned and partner pharmacies.

“Rowlands’ long-term commitment to operating a robust network of commercially sustainable owned community pharmacies across Great Britain remains unchanged.”

Rowlands is not the first multiple to encounter sale rumours in recent months.

In November, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association offered support to pharmacists employed by Lloydspharmacy, after being made aware that “a number of Lloydspharmacy” branches were “going through the divestiture process”.

Lloydspharmacy has not explicitly confirmed whether it is divesting any branches, or how many branches are affected if this is indeed the case.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy may sell substantial number of branches, sources tell C+D

Several sources told C+D in May of the multiple’s alleged plans to sell a substantial number of branches.

Meanwhile, financial documents published in October revealed that Rowlands reported a post-tax loss of £34.6 million in the year ending January 31 2022 – almost three times higher than the previous year – while its average number of employees fell by 14% in the same period.

The multiple has more than 400 branches across the UK.

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