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Online pharmacy Chemist4U rakes in 272% higher profits in 2023

Online pharmacy Chemist4U reported sales of £30m as its profits leapt 272% in the last financial year, it has revealed.

Distance selling pharmacy (DSP) giant Chemist4U saw its sales rise by a third (33%) in 2023 as it sold items worth £30.1 million in the year, according to its annual report published on Companies House last month (June 28).

Chemist4U’s pre-tax profit hit £1.7m for the year ending in September 2023, a leap of 272% from 439,000 in 2022, its financial statements revealed.

The bumper year meant that it was able to issue a £2.3m dividend to its parent company after issuing no dividend the year before, according to the report signed by its director and chief executive James O’Loan.

Read more: Chemist4U owner secures £12m investment to ‘turbocharge growth’

Chemist4U also declared an 177% increase in amounts owed to debtors, which sat at £6.4m in 2023.

Most of this increase was due to £3.7m owed by “group undertakings”, which it said were “unsecured, interest free and repayable on demand”.

The DSP also changed how it managed its cash reserves in the year, with cash balances “swept daily into an interest-bearing deposit account held by the parent company”, it said.

Read more: Online pharmacy Chemist4U set to give employees £750 cost-of-living bonus

It added that its parent company held £4.6m in cash on September 30 2023.

The online pharmacy employed 123 people in 2023, up from 105 in 2022, while its total staff costs were £3.2m in the year, according to its report.

The DSP was the eighth largest pharmacy by items dispensed in March 2024, according to NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) data presented by Pharmdata.


Business worries


Chemist4U’s strategic report said that its performance was “satisfactory given the current economic fundamentals”, in particular noting the effect of “high and persistent inflation”.

It added that the government's “focus on reducing government expenditure” created “a higher level of uncertainty” in the sector about what pharmacies could expect as reimbursement for NHS prescriptions.

But its strategic report painted a confident picture of the DSP’s prospects, as it said the company was “well positioned to deliver further growth”.

Read more: Boots boss Seb James quits pharmacy giant amid ongoing closures

It added that it would “play a significant role in the development and provision of pharmacy services” through new technology.

Chemist4U, which “operates to the highest possible professional standards”, saw 26% more registered NHS patients in the year, it said. 

It had 70,542 NHS patients at the end of September and dispensed 866,312 items in the year, 17% more than 2022, according to its report.


C4U news


In September, Chemist4U’s parent company announced that it had received a £12m cash injection from Bolton-based equity investment company Pitalia Capital, which specialises in healthcare and manufacturing and is funded by SpaMedica founder Anil Pitalia.

SpaMedica is owned by Veonet, which operates ophthalmology clinics and this month announced that former Boots boss Seb James would join the company as its chief executive in November after quitting as Boots’ managing director.

In 2022, Chemist4U announced that its 106 employees would each be given a cost-of-living bonus to help with mounting bills.

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