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PDA issues advice as Lloydspharmacy moves ahead with divestment process

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has issued advice to its members following claims that some Lloydspharmacy branches are being sold in a two-part share sale process.

The PDA said on Monday (May 22) that it had been informed by some members that the Lloydspharmacy branches they work for were being “divested as part of a share sale”.

The union said it was “aware” that the multiple intended to carry out a number of divestments in a “two-stage process”, whereby branches would first be transferred into a “newly created company termed a ‘New Co’” before being sold to a new owner through a share sale.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy confirms locations and dates of six Sainsbury's branch closures

According to the PDA, Lloydspharmacy employees impacted by such sales “have been given two dates to work towards”, including a date of transfer to the new company and a subsequent completion date when new owners “will take over the pharmacy”.


It remains unclear how many branches may be affected.


A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson reiterated to C+D yesterday (May 23) that the multiple “is reviewing its community pharmacy estate and is selectively selling some branches”, mainly to independent pharmacy owners and other local businesspeople.


Read more: Davidsons Chemists reveals acquisition of five Lloydspharmacy branches


“The way in which we organise our estate, and the commercial approach taken, always considers the interests of patients, colleagues and the business,” they added. 


And they stressed that there will be “no change” for patients in the way they use their local pharmacy following any sales.


It comes as Rowlands Pharmacy today (May 24) announced that it has bought 30 Lloydspharmacy branches across Scotland.



Impact on TUPE legislation



The PDA said it is “unclear why” Lloydspharmacy has opted for the share sale method of divesting certain branches.

While pharmacy sales would “traditionally” come under TUPE legislation – which safeguards employees’ rights when they transfer over to a new employer – this process would "not ordinarily apply" to share sales, the union noted.

Under such sales, employees “will continue to be employed on their original terms”, which means they will not have “special rights” to protect their contractual terms or from being dismissed due to the sale, according to the PDA.

Read more: Lloydspharmacy defends position amid Sainsbury’s redundancy row

However, in these cases employees would still have “'normal’ protection” against if they needed to pursue claims for unfair dismissal, deduction from wages or breach of contract, it said.

The PDA stressed that the next steps for affected employees would "depend on the approach taken by the new owner" and encouraged members to "seek advice" from the union's legal team if their terms and conditions "are going to be adversely impacted".

"TUPE legislation is complex and fact specific, so we are unable to provide more detailed advice until a 'New Co' has been sold and the new owners decide what, if any, changes are going to be made," it said.

Members should contact the PDA's service centre if they are made aware that they are part of a share sale divestment programme, it said.



Lloyds Pharmacy Limited



C+D has since learned of a large number of companies listed on Companies House that are owned by Lloyds Pharmacy Limited and are each registered as a “dispensing chemist in specialised stores” .

The companies, all of which were incorporated between November 2022 and May of this year, are named LP SD One up to LP SD Fifty-Three, and LP North One up to LP North Twenty-Five.

Another company, LPOD RX Limited lists Admenta UK Limited as its person/s with significant control, which can be traced back to Aurelius Group – the private equity company that bought Lloydspharmacy's parent company McKesson UK in 2021 –  AAH Limited and Lloyds Pharmacy Limited.

Lloydspharmacy declined to clarify whether these new vehicles will be used to sell the pharmacies in the divestment programme highlighted by the PDA. 

Read more: Kamsons Pharmacy reveals acquisition of five Lloydspharmacy branches

On Monday, C+D reported that Lloydspharmacy had confirmed the locations of six of its branches in Sainsbury's supermarkets that are due to close, as well as closure dates.

And independent pharmacy chains Davidson's Chemists and Kamsons Pharmacy announced their acquisitions of five Lloydspharmacy branches apiece.

Meanwhile, Lloydspharmacy decided to formally reject a claim for enhanced redundancy benefits in the latest stage of its dispute with former Sainsbury’s staff, which was reported by C+D earlier this month (May 15). 

Read more: Lloydspharmacy rejects ex-Sainsbury’s staff enhanced redundancy claims

In a move the PDA branded “disappointing, but not entirely unexpected” given Lloydspharmacy’s position on the matter to date, the multiple decided not to uphold a grievance from ex-Sainsbury’s employees that claimed they were entitled to enhanced redundancy pay.

Lloydspharmacy took over the pharmacies in Sainsbury’s stores in 2015 but earlier this year (January 19) announced it will withdraw pharmacy services from the supermarket over the course of 2023.

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