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Well 'confident' it can 'fill gap' left by Lloydspharmacy Sainsbury closures

Well is gearing up its stores and staff to take on customers displaced by Lloydspharmacy’s withdrawal from Sainsbury's in the coming months, it has told C+D.

Last month, C+D exclusively revealed that Lloydspharmacy intends to withdraw pharmacy services from all 237 Sainsbury’s stores “over the course of 2023”.

It remains unclear whether the Sainsbury's branches will close or be sold, as the multiple told C+D it is “currently exploring options for each individual branch”.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy quits Sainsbury’s: What we do (and don't) know so far

But Well chief executive Seb Hobbs told C+D yesterday (February 13) that the multiple has “put in a lot of time and effort” since the announcement to make sure that all its pharmacies “could have the capacity to support patients” affected.

This is especially true for “those closest to the Lloyds pharmacies that are closing”, he said.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy confirms closure of Dorset Sainsbury’s branch next month

“[We] feel confident that we’re able to fill that gap and support local patients if they decide to choose to come to us,” he added.

“All of us at Well were sorry to hear about the closures, as we know people right across the UK rely on having a convenient local pharmacy that they can depend on,” he said.


Well owner takes Sainsbury’s stake


Meanwhile, Well’s owner Bestway Group acquired a total of 80,792,512 shares in Sainsbury’s at the end of January, representing 3.45% of Sainsbury’s issued share capital and widely reported to be valued at £193m.

In a statement, the group said it “intends to hold its shares in Sainsbury’s for investment purposes and looks forward to supporting the executive management team”.

Read more: Legal view: What now for Lloydspharmacy services in Sainsbury's?

“Bestway Group may look to make further market purchases of Sainsbury’s shares from time to time, subject to availability and price,” it added.

However, when asked by C+D if Bestway had any plans for Well pharmacies to fill the spaces vacated by Lloydspharmacy in Sainsburys stores, Bestway declined to comment.

Bestway Group bought Co-operative Pharmacy in February 2015 and renamed it Well.


Lifeline to staff


With 760 pharmacies, Well is the third largest pharmacy chain in the UK.

It last month offered a lifeline to Lloydspharmacy staff affected by the forthcoming closures, confirming it had “lots of roles available for staff affected by the news” – alongside similar offers from Boots and Day Lewis.

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

Lloydspharmacy has also pledged that it is “working with all colleagues potentially affected by the changes” and intends to “support them through the process”.

The multiple’s announcement that it would withdraw from Sainsbury’s branches over the course of 2023 came after months of branch sale rumours, with the multiple making the decision after conducting “a strategic review of its operations in response to changing market conditions”, it told C+D. 

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