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UPDATED: Tesco reveals proposals to close eight in-store pharmacies

Supermarket chain Tesco has announced a raft of proposed changes to its businesses, including “the closure of eight pharmacies”.

Tesco today (January 31) announced that it was considering “some proposed changes” to its UK operations, which aim to ensure it “remain[s] focused and competitive in a fast-changing market”.

Among proposals for management changes and counter closures, Tesco said there were “a small number of other localised changes across our business that we are talking to colleagues about”.

“This will include the closure of eight pharmacies, where there are other pharmacies within one mile of our store,” it said.

Read more: UPDATED: Asda proposes closing seven pharmacies

The chain will “enter a consultation process with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers on these proposals”, it added.

A Tesco spokesperson told C+D today that it expects the pharmacies in question to close in August 2023. 

The spokesperson said they would be able to share the locations of the eight pharmacies in due course, once Tesco worked through the proposals with the NHS

Tesco continues to have 365 pharmacies across its large stores, the supermarket said.

 

“Difficult but necessary decisions”

 

Tesco “continually” reviews the way it operates to make sure it is “meeting customers’ needs and supporting colleagues in a sustainable way” and running its business “as efficiently as possible”, it said.

This led to the supermarket chain “making some difficult but necessary decisions”, it added.

Read more: Multiples offloading branches is ‘positive’, pharmacy broker says

However, it pledged to “ensure [it] can continue to invest in the things that matter most for [its] customers and business”.

Tesco said it expected all the proposed “localised changes” – which include changing some roles’ hours, reducing some post offices’ hours, removing some head office roles and the closure of its national maintenance centre, on top of the pharmacy closures – to “impact around 350 roles across the business”.

“Our priority is to support colleagues impacted by these changes,” it added.

Tesco currently has around 2,000 vacancies across its businesses, it said.

The Tesco spokesperson told C+D that pharmacy staff make up a small portion of the employees affected by the changes, and that the relevant staff  had been informed of the proposals yesterday (January 30).  

The supermarket chain will work hard to find roles for affected pharmacy staff in nearby Tesco branches, they added. 

Read more: Boots: 1,500 jobs open for pharmacists 'impacted by Lloydspharmacy closures'

CEO for Tesco’s UK and Republic of Ireland operations Jason Tarry said: “These are difficult decisions to make, but they are necessary to ensure we remain focused on…ensuring our store offer reflects what our customers value the most.

“Our priority is to support those colleagues impacted and help find alternative roles within our business from the vacancies and newly created roles we have available.”

 

Supermarket pharmacy closures

 

The news follows Asda’s proposal to close seven pharmacies last week and Lloydspharmacy’s recent announcement that it plans to withdraw from its 237 Sainsbury’s in-store pharmacies.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy exits Sainsbury’s: Locations of all the branches revealed

Last week (January 26), the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) pledged to “support individual PDA members impacted by [Asda’s] decision so that they are aware of, and can exercise, their rights at work in relation to this situation”.

PDA Union director Paul Day raised concerns about the prospect of further “reductions in access to a pharmacy for patients” as well as for the pharmacists employed at Asda stores earmarked for closure – including “hundreds of employees at risk of redundancy and thousands facing a pay cut”.

The PDA also said the government must “clarify what is being done to ensure the overall sector has the capacity” to alleviate pressure on the NHS, as politicians have been calling for.   

“Capacity lost in supermarkets needs to be gained on the High Street or elsewhere in the community,” it added.

The PDA previously said it was “working tirelessly to avoid job losses for pharmacists” affected by Lloyspharmacy’s withdrawal from its Sainsbury’s pharmacies.

Read more: PDA 'working tirelessly' to avoid job losses after Lloyds quits Sainsbury's

Meanwhile, broker Christie & Co’s head of pharmacy Tony Evans told C+D this month that corporate branch disposals were “something positive from [his] point of view”, as they will result in “more pharmacies coming back into the independent sector”.

 

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