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UPDATED: Family-owned Whitworth Chemists puts all 34 branches up for sale

Whitworth Chemists Limited, which operates 34 pharmacies in the North of England, has been put up for sale, a specialist broker has announced.

Christie & Co revealed today (November 10) that the whole Whitworth Chemists estate has been put on the market by the company’s “family shareholders” following a “strategic review”.


Whitworth’s business includes 34 pharmacies across the North of England, stretching from Blackpool in the West to Skegness in the East and up to Newcastle in the North East, it said.


Read more: Rowlands sets out ‘close, merge, dispose’ strategy amid £219m loss in 2022/23


The family-owned chain has also placed its “centralised services and MHRA-approved warehousing facilities” up for sale, the broker added.


Interest in acquiring the business is “invited on a group, subgroup or individual basis”, it said.



Family-owned since 1999



John Whitworth first started his pharmacy business in 1967 but founded community pharmacy chain Whitworth Chemists Limited in 1999 after exiting wholesaling, Christie & Co said.


The chain has “remained family-owned” since then, it added.


However, Whitworth’s superintendent pharmacist and managing director Jay Badenhorst said that “the time has come for the family shareholders to step back from the business".


Read more: 'Irreplaceable' Boots branch closes despite APPG chair campaign


Mr Badenhorst said that Whitworth’s had “built a strong business over the last three decades” adding that the sale was a “great opportunity for a new purchaser or purchasers to continue to build on the enviable reputation we have created”.


“The business benefits from an amazing, dedicated team delivering first-class pharmacy services daily,” he said.


Rare opportunity



Average dispensing volume across Whitworth’s 34 branches are around 8,500 items per month, with volumes at individual pharmacies ranging from 3,000 items to 22,000 items, according to Christie & Co.


And it said that the opportunity to buy the business’s centralised services and warehouse – with a support office in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire – is one that “does not come on the market often”.


Read more: ‘Popular’ Glasgow pharmacy changes hands for first time since 1987


Christie & Co director of pharmacy Jon Booth, who is handling the sale, said that it was rare that a chain “of this size and quality” was put up for sale “on a group, subgroup, or individual pharmacy basis”.


He added that the broker anticipated “significant interest” in the pharmacies and that it is “delighted to have been engaged by the family and shareholders of Whitworth Chemists Limited in this exciting project”.


Read more: Pair of Derbyshire pharmacies in administration on the market for £850k


In 2019, C+D reported that Richard Bradley, co-owner of Whitworth Chemists, had “doorstepped” then health secretary Matt Hancock on his way to a meeting in the House of Commons to explain the plight of community pharmacy.


Meanwhile, Mr Badenhorst won the award for C+D’s community pharmacist of the year in 2015 and sits on the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) board.

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