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Lloydspharmacy branch numbers dropped almost 50% in nine months

Lloydspharmacy is now the third-largest multiple in England after disposing of 461 branches in just nine months, according to NHS England (NHSE) data.

Lloydspharmacy has sold or closed 47% of its branches in England since September last year, NHSE’s most recent consolidated pharmaceutical list has shown.

The data for the first quarter of 2023/24, released last week (August 16), revealed that Lloydspharmacy had 512 branches in England as of June 30, meaning it is now the third-largest multiple in England.

Read more: UPDATED: Well Pharmacy snaps up 11 Lloydspharmacy branches in Scotland

According to the data, Lloydspharmacy now trails Boots, which has 1,651 branches, and Well Pharmacy, which has 547 branches.

Until the June 30 snapshot, Lloydspharmacy had been the second-largest multiple for some time.

The multiple reiterated that it is "selectively selling some branches", first announced in April.


Precipitous decline


Lloydspharmacy’s decline in branch numbers has been precipitous. 

At the end of September 2022 - the oldest available data on the portal - the multiple boasted 973 branches in England.

By the end of 2022, it had 943 branches and in March this year, it had dropped to 883 branches. 

Read more: Ex-Sainsbury’s Lloydspharmacy workers head to court over redundancy benefits

And NHSE’s data shows that the multiple held just 512 pharmacies by the end of June, a decline of 47%, or 461 branches, in just nine months.

Around half of the decline can be attributed to the permanent closure of the 237 Sainsbury’s Lloydspharmacy branches, all of which shut their doors by June 13, as exclusively revealed by C+D.


Bigger picture


Across the UK as a whole, Lloydspharmacy had 1,275 pharmacies on March 31 2022, according to its annual report for the preceding financial year.

In April last year, C+D reported that as of March 31 2021, the multiple had 1,351 pharmacies across the UK, down from 1,427 the previous year, according to its 2021 annual report.

Meanwhile, the most recent Scottish NHS data on dispensers is for the start of January this year, which shows that Lloydspharmacy had 173 branches in the country.

Read more: 'Pharmacy wastelands’: Over 200 net closures in 2023 so far, DH admits

C+D has reported on several sales of Scottish Lloydspharmacy branches this year, most recently the announcement from Well Pharmacy that it had bought 11 branches from its competitor.

And NHS data on community pharmacies in Wales up to June this year showed that 24 pharmacies across the Lloydspharmacy group have closed since the start of the year, with 55 still in operation in the country.


What about the other multiples?


The number of pharmacies owned by large multiples in England declined by 557 between September 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023 - from 4,874 to 4,317 - according to the NHSE dataset on “pharmacy openings and closures.  

Over the same period, Boots lost 35 pharmacies and Rowlands lost 18. The other seven largest multiples lost at most two branches in total, maintained numbers, or added branches, with Peak Pharmacy adding seven, according to NHSE data.

Large multiples are defined by NHSE as companies holding 100 or more pharmacies in their group.

Read more: Do corporate disposals offer an opportunity for independents?

While the consolidated list that provides data on individual pharmacy companies is released quarterly, the openings and closures list, which gives a sectoral overview, is released monthly. A change in ownership is listed as a closure, with a new pharmacy listed as opening on the next day. 

The most recent release of the “pharmacy openings and closures” dataset suggests that many more pharmacies in the Lloydspharmacy group may have been sold in July.

The total number of pharmacies held by large multiples declined by 154 in that month alone, according to the data released on August 10.

It comes after Boots last month (July 19) revealed plans to close 300 of its branches over the next year.


Lloydspharmacy still “selling some branches”


Responding to C+D’s questions, a spokesperson for Lloydspharmacy repeated that the multiple is “selectively selling some branches”.

The spokesperson said that “the majority” of those buying parts of its estate are “independent pharmacy owners and local businesspeople” who have “demonstrated their commitment to our branch teams and patients”.

The spokesperson added that Lloydspharmacy was “pleased” that staff members in the branches would be joining “successful local businesses”.

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