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Avicenna to auction freehold of 15 Sheppards Pharmacy branches

The 15 branches are up for auction with prices ranging from £50,000 to £490,000

The freehold of fifteen Sheppards Pharmacy branches is to be sold via auction, two months after independent support group Avicenna acquired the chain.

Avicenna bought the Sheppards Pharmacy group in April for an undisclosed sum, retaining all 259 staff across the 34 branches.

The freehold pharmacy and residential properties at 15 of those locations are now going up for auction on June 16, auctioneers Acuitus announced yesterday (June 7).

The branches are all let to Avicenna Retail Limited, with rent guaranteed by the company on a 15-year lease from completion, Acuitus explained.

The branches that are part of Avicenna's "planned sale of some freehold properties" are located in areas including Abercynon, Aberdare and Pontypridd in south Wales. Their prices range from £50,000 to £490,000.

Peter Mayo, investment director at Acuitus, said the 15 branches are expected to generate interest from private investors.

“Pharmacies performed particularly well during the pandemic and there are a growing number of investors looking to acquire properties of this type for the first time,” he added.

Sheppards Pharmacy was founded by Alan and Jean Sheppard in 1972 and has expanded to 34 branches, predominantly in south Wales.

In its latest pharmacy market report, Hutchings Consultants said the number of new buyers looking to own pharmacies in England increased by 56.9% in the 12 months to March 2021, compared to the previous year.

"Not selling the pharmacy businesses"

Avicenna CEO Jonathan Power told C+D today (June 8) that this is "purely a property transaction" and the group is "not selling the pharmacy businesses".

"We are currently in the process of conducting a sale-and-leaseback agreement for some of the Sheppards buildings. This is part of a planned sale of some freehold properties that include some of our pharmacy locations," Mr Power added.

The property transaction will not have an impact on the branches' "operations, their locations, or future viability", he stressed.

Have you bought or sold a pharmacy in past year?

R A, Community pharmacist

The lack of common sense is astounding! First buy a business in a sector which is facing slow demise. Secondly sell off the most valuable assets to reduce the debt!

This is what happened with Debenhams and now we see the same thing with the pharmacy sector. Sadly this will end in tears. If the business had good outlook I doubt the Sheppard family would have sold this business off in the first place. 

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

I would not bet against their judgement or common sense

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