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Lloydspharmacy to ‘withdraw’ pharmacy services from all Sainsbury’s branches

Lloydspharmacy has chosen to withdraw pharmacy services “from all Sainsbury’s stores over the course of 2023”, C+D can exclusively reveal.

After months of branch sale rumours, Lloydspharmacy today (January 19) announced that it intends to withdraw operations from all Sainsbury’s in-store pharmacies it acquired in 2015.  

“Pharmacy services will be withdrawn from all Sainsbury’s stores over the course of 2023”, it said.

Read more: PDA offers support as Lloydspharmacy branch sale rumours persist

There are 237 branches affected by the announcement, a spokesperson told C+D.

The multiple came to the decision after conducting “a strategic review of its operations in response to changing market conditions”, it continued.


Timeline will vary


When asked whether the pharmacies in question will close or be sold, the multiple told C+D it is “currently exploring options for each individual branch”.

This “means that timeline and final plans will vary on a branch-by-branch basis”, the multiple said.

The spokesperson told C+D that "how colleagues are potentially affected” will also “vary on a branch-by-branch basis”. 

Lloydspharmacy is “working with all colleagues potentially affected by the changes” and intends to “support them through the process”, they continued.

“This decision has not been an easy one,” chief executive officer Kevin Birch told C+D.


Patients provided with “suitable” alternatives


Mr Birch thanked Lloydspharmacy team members “for their dedication to our patients, customers and communities”. 

He also acknowledged that “patients and customers may have questions about how the change will affect them”.

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

He thanked them “for their continued support”, pledging to provide “a smooth transition over the coming months.”

“Lloydspharmacy is committed to helping patients easily find a suitable alternative provision,” the multiple added.


Closure rumours


C+D reported this week (January 16) that “one or two” unnamed pharmacy multiples had put “a significant number of pharmacies” on the market in the final months of 2022, according to Hutchings Consultants.

Read more: 'Significant number of pharmacies' offloaded by multiples last year, broker says

It follows several sources telling C+D in May of the multiple’s alleged plans to sell a substantial number of branches.

In November, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association reassured its members that when an existing business is acquired and absorbed into another, existing employees “should not see any major changes to their working arrangements because of the transfer”.


How did we get here?


The multiple bought the Sainsbury’s pharmacy business in 2015 – 277 in-store pharmacies and four branches located in hospitals at the time – in a decision that was met with some scepticism.

The government’s Competition Markets Authority greenlit the acquisition in 2016 after a year’s scrutiny, although it first compelled Lloydspharmacy to sell 12 branches in England and Wales to prevent it from “reducing service quality to increase profits" in certain areas.

Read more: Aurelius Group takeover: the latest chapter in the Lloydspharmacy saga

In 2018, C+D revealed that 10 of the Lloydspharmacy branches in Sainsbury's stores had closed in the two years since the multiple acquired them.

Meanwhile, in November 2021, the multiple announced it was reducing the trading hours of its 100-hour branches located in Sainsbury’s supermarkets until January 2022 due to “workforce challenges”.

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